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Portland's offense keeps up the assault in the final innings Friday to beat the Chico Heat in their Great West League series opener

This time, the Portland Pickles offense made sure.

The Pickles, who had lost three in a row, including setbacks of 5-4 and 6-5 in the ninth inning at Medford, pulled away from the Chico Heat down the stretch Friday to win 9-3 in Game 4 of a six-game trip.

Portland had a 3-0 lead through 4 1/2 innings, but gave up two runs in the bottom of the fifth — making it look as though another lead might wind up slipping through their fingers.

But in the eighth, Matt Starcovic, out of Cuyahoga Community College, and catcher Thomas Rudinsky, from Lincoln High, each stroked an RBI single to boost the advantage to 5-2.

Then, in the ninth, the Pickles exploded for four runs on four hits, with Starcovic plating the final two runs with a single.

The Pickles' productive night included a home and two RBIs from shortstop Daniel Lopez (University of Portland), a home run by first baseman Trevor Feeney (Lower Columbia CC) on his first hit as a Pickle, and an RBI by designated hitter Griffin Mueller (Northern Colorado).

Right fielder Alec Leighton (Montana State Billings), center fielder Joey Cooper (Cal State Northrdige), Lopez, Starcovic and Rudinsky all had two hits in the 13-hit attack.

On the mound, 6-5 Australian Josh Hendrickson (Ranger College) continued his strong Great West League pitching with probably his best stint of the year. He gave Portland eight innings, allowing one earned run on six hits and two walks, with six strikeouts.

Attendance at Nettleton Stadium Field was 1,285, with the temperature 96 degrees for the first pitch.

In other GWL games on Friday, Medford edged the Lincoln Potters 4-3 at Medford, and the Marysville Gold Sox beat the Yuba City Bears, 4-2.

In the six-team league, which will have four teams qualify for the playoffs, Medford took over first place at 11-5, followed by Lincoln (10-5), Chico (10-6), Portland (7-9), Marysville (5-11) and Yuba City (5-12).

The Pickles and Heat will play again Saturday at 7 p.m. and then wrap up their series at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Portland returns home to Walker Stadium for six games after that, starting with a 7 p.m. Monday meeting with the Yuba City Bears.

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