The Portland Pickles continued a hot start to their debut season in the West Coast League, holding off the Cowlitz Black Bears for a 4-3 win on Tuesday.
Portland improved to 4-1, with four wins in a row, and clinched a victory in its first road series. The team, which spent its other two seasons in the Great West League, has the best record in the WCL and is 1 1/2 games ahead of the Bend Elks for first place in the South Division.
A strong starting pitching performance was again the blueprint. Right-hander Daniel Copeland (Gonzaga) held Cowlitz scoreless for four innings, giving up two hits and walking two.
Junior left-hander Nick Sparks (Saint Mary's) then limited Cowlitz to two runs in 2 1/3 innings. Sophomore Augie Sylk (USC) bridged the gap to the ninth, allowing one run and providing right-hander Brad Bonnenfant (Nevada) with a chance to claim his second save.
Bonnenfant, who notched his first save on Sunday versus the Port Angeles Lefties, pitched a scoreless ninth.
Two of Portland's runs were unearned. The Pickles led 2-0 after scoring in the second and fourth. They added two runs in the fifth.
Shortstop Gio Diaz (Saint Mary's), first baseman Jace McKinney (University of Portland) and right fielder Gabe Skoro (UP) had two hits apiece. McKinney had Portland's lone RBI with a fourth-inning single to score center fielder Joey Cooper (Cal State Northridge).
The Pickles finished with 10 hits.
Cowlitz (1-4) plays host to the series finale at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.?
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