In their biggest game of the season so far, the Portland Pilots downed the reigning national champion Oregon State Beavers 5-1 at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro, Oregon on Tuesday. The win improves the Pilots’ record to 16-9 on the season and drops the Beavers’ record to 16-5.
The win also gives Portland two victories against the Pac-12 conference, with the Pilots beating University of Oregon 5-3 on March 5.
“It feels good,” Portland head coach Geoff Loomis said about the victory. “It feels good to get a win against a really good opponent in Oregon State and try to carry that momentum.”
Solid pitching helped the Pilots in this game. The bullpen only gave up one run to a strong Oregon State offense that features five players batting over .300 on the season. They struck out 14 batters and held the Beavers to only three hits.
With the long week ahead of them the Pilots had to dig deep into their bullpen, throwing four pitchers out against Oregon State.
“We’ve got a five game week so really the strategy is how do you get your five games with your pitching staff,” Portland head coach Geoff Loomis said. “We were able to throw some of our starting guys in for an inning or two each and that’s how we were able to get through nine innings.”
Senior Kevin Baker started for the Pilots and struck out six batters in four innings while giving up only one earned run. Redshirt senior Chris Clements was the winning pitcher in this one and improved to 5-0 on the year. A two-time WCC pitcher of the week winner this season, he pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts. Senior Cameron Richman struck out three batters in the seventh inning and Junior Connor Knutson closed out the last two innings.
“I think it was more just sticking to who I am,” Clements said, who will also start on Sunday against Loyola Marymount. “I’m not going to overpower guys with fast balls and throwing super hard or anything like that but we’ve worked a lot on command and throwing fastballs low and moving it around and then working off my changeup...just letting the defense work.”
The offense also came through for Portland. The Pilots had five runs off of eight hits. Senior left fielder Cody Hawken had a two-run single in the first and had two hits in four appearances at the plate. Sophomore designated hitter Hunter Montgomery and sophomore Right fielder Gabe Skoro also had RBIs, with Montgomery hitting an RBI single to right center in the second inning and Skoro singling to third base in the seventh inning to drive in a run.
The win is the biggest one of the season for Portland and it will likely remain that way, as the Pilots don’t play another team of Oregon State’s caliber for the rest of the season. They hope to carry that momentum into conference play, where they’ve struggled so far with a 1-5 record to start.
“The first two weekends at San Francisco and BYU were both away series and we didn’t get off to the start we wanted,” Loomis said. “We’re hoping to make up some of that ground this weekend.”
The Pilots play their next game at home at Joe Etzel Field against the Seattle University Redhawks on Wednesday, March 27.
Kyle Garcia is the sports editor for The Beacon. He can be reached at email@example.com.