Portland, Ore. --
The Pickles won their fourth straight game and fifth game of their last six with a 6-1 win Sunday night over the Bend Elks, sweeping the series in front of a Walker Stadium record 2, 657 fans.
Zander Clarke hit his third home run of the series, a towering three-run shot in the second, that led the way for Portland offensively. Joel Casillas (W 1-0) got the win in relieft, pitching the fourth through eighth innings while retiring all twelves of the hitters he faced.
The win keeps Portland in sole possession of first place in the South Division with a 15-8 record, leading the Walla Walla Sweets (15-9) by a half-game and the Corvallis Knights (13-10) by two full games with four games left in the season's first half.
Bend (7-20) took the early lead in the first inning with a solo home run by Jake Holton, but Portland tied things in the bottom half. With two outs and the bases empty, Zander Clarke blasted a drive off the wall in left for a single, Jack Murphy walked, and Joey Cooper scored Clarke with a flare to shallow left.
The Pickles plated four in the second inning. With one out nobody on, Bend lefty AJ Atherton issued consecutive walks to Daniel Edson, Mikey Perez, and Gio Diaz to load the bases. Carson Breshears put Portland in front 2-1 with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Edson, and Clarke followed with a moonshot homer to left to score three more and make it a 5-1 lead. It was Clarke's fourth home run in the WCL and fifth overall.
Clarke finished the game going 2-for-2 with four RBI and two runs scored. For the series with Bend he went 6-for-10 with three homers, two doubles and eleven RBI. In his six games this week Clarke went 15-for-26 with four home runs, 16 RBI and seven runs scored. The West Coast League Player of the Week honors are announced Monday.
Colby Wyatt started on the hill Sunday and went three innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits, walking two and striking out two. Brett Walker pitched a scoreless fourth, and Casillas rolled through twelve straight hitters in his four innings of relief, grabbing five strikeouts along the way. Augie Sylk retired three more in a row for an unblemished ninth. Bend did not get a baserunner after the fourth inning.
The Pickles are next in action Tuesday July 3rd for a split doubleheader against the Gresham Greywolves and Cowlitz Black Bears, respectively. The Cowlitz series is in WCL play, with four games left on the league's first half schedule for Portland.
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