Portland drops No. 22 San Diego
Pilots' Kraus wins 26th game, new high in program history
PORTLAND, Ore. --- Portland senior starter Kyle Kraus went the distance on the mound to become Portland’s new all-time leader in career wins as the Pilots defeated the No. 22 San Diego Toreros 5-4 in a West Coast Conference baseball game played on Friday afternoon at Joe Etzel Field. Kraus surpasses Wes Smith with career win number 26.
It wasn’t easy as the Toreros (32-10, 9-4 WCC) tried to rally against Kraus in the top of the ninth. Down 5-2, San Diego got its first two runners of the inning on base with back-to-back singles. Corey LeVier then blooped a single to shallow center field that dropped just out of the reach of Michael Lucarelli, Portland’s shortstop. Kris Bryant advanced to second base on the hit, while Jon Hotta came around to score, making it a two-run ballgame.
Portland’s (22-15, 9-7 WCC) defense then came through with a couple of clutch plays. First, Turner Gill was able to get a glove on a sinking line drive hit by A.J. Robinson. Gill then fired the ball to second base to force out the pinch runner Victor Rasor-Thompson, who had been tagging up.
Now with runners on the corners and one out, San Diego’s Andrew Daniel lined a single to left-center field, bringing Bryant home from third base to pull the Toreros within a run. But on the play, Daniel tried to advance to second base. Lucarelli alertly took the cut off throw and tossed the ball to second, where Cody Lenahan applied the tag for the second out of the inning. And with the tying run now on third, Kraus induced a game-ending ground-out to Lucarelli.
Only two of the four runs allowed by Kraus (6-3) were earned as the right-hander picks up his second complete game of the year. He fanned five, didn’t walk a batter, and scattered eight hits, with four of those hits coming in the ninth.
The dramatic top of the ninth followed two huge Portland runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. First, with a runner on third base and two outs, Caleb Whalen drilled a high fly ball deep into the left field corner that bounced off the wall for a triple. Whalen’s third triple of the year pushed the UP lead to 4-2. Chet Thompson then followed with what would prove to be the game-winning RBI. His hard-hit single to left field easily scored Whalen to give the Pilots a 5-2 advantage.
Portland’s first three runs came in bizarre fashion with the Pilots trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning. USD starter Dylan Covey unleashed three wild pitches with runners in scoring position that allowed the Pilots to score three runs and take a 3-2 lead. Covey would finally settle down to get out of the inning, but not until the damage had already been done.
Covey (6-3) takes the loss for San Diego after allowing the three runs in 7.0 innings of work. He struck out five, walked one and gave up eight hits. Relievers Jack Shannon and Drew Jacobs were each charged with one of Portland’s runs in the eighth.
The Toreros scored a pair of unearned runs in the top of the first inning to take early control of the scoreboard. Both runs were unearned following a Portland error, and both runs came in on a soft single off the end of the bat of Robinson.
Kraus was dialed in after that, facing the minimum amount of batters during the next five innings.
Portland out-hit San Diego 10-8, while both teams committed an error. Whalen, Thompson, Nick Armenta and Brian Fratalli each finished with two hits for the Pilots. Robinson led USD with three hits.