Portland, Ore. --
Gio Diaz raced through a stop sign, dove to the backside of home plate and scored the winning run on a base hit by Davis Delorefice in the bottom of the tenth as the Pickles walked-off the Bellingham Bells 3-2 in front of 2,307 fans Friday night at Walker Stadium.
The win improves the Pickles overall record to 31-15, a half-game ahead of the Bells (30-15) for the best overall record in the West Coast League. Home field advantage for the WCL Championship series is determined by best league overall record. Portland is 14-6 in the second half, and by percentage points have a full game lead on Corvallis (11-5) for the division lead.
The Pickles scored 3 runs on 10 hits and commited one error, while Bellingham scored two runs on 9 hits and also commited an error.
Colby Wyatt (Cornell) (W 3-2) tossed a scoreless ninth and tenth innings in high leverage situations to get the win. Carson Olson took the loss for Bellingham (2-2).
The Bells had a 2-0 lead through six innings thanks to a pair of RBI by nine-hole hitter Connor Mack. Mack smacked a leadoff homer in the third and connected for a two-out RBI double in the sixth.
Portland tied things up in the seventh inning after a Joey Cooper (Cal St Northridge) leadoff walk. After a strikeout, Mikey Perez (UCLA) blooped a ball to shallow right field, and the right-fielder Mack and second baseman Dusty Stroup collided trying to make the play. The ball fell safely for a hit, putting runners at first and second with one out. Daniel Lopez (Portland) and Noah Cardenas (UCLA) each came through with RBI singles in succession to tie the score, 2-2.
The Pickles had golden opportunities to take the lead or win the game in the eighth and ninth innings but failed to take advantage. After loading the bases with none out in the eighth, two strikeouts and a foul pop out ended the frame. Cardenas ripped a leadoff double to start the bottom of the ninth, but after being replaced by a pinch runner who advanced to third with one out, Portland failed to execute a suicide squeeze, leading to a caught stealing and another scoreless frame.
Gio Diaz (St Mary's) double to left field to start things in the tenth before Delorefice brought him home with a one-out single.
Portland finished with ten men left on base. Bellingham stranded 13 in the contest.
Going back to the first series between the two clubs, each of the four games have been decided by one run (Bells lead the series 3-1).
Game Two is set for Saturday night at 7:05pm. It is preceded by a seven-inning non-league game with the Gresham Greywolves.
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