Minor League Round-Up: 4/18/05

After starting the season at 5-1, the Sacramento River Cats can't seem to buy a win. Find out why they have continued to struggle in this edition of <i>Minor League Round-Up...</i>

Sacramento Continues To Slide; Drop Two To Beavers

The Sacramento River Cats had to wake up early to finish off their rain-suspended Sunday game and by the end of the day, they had to be wishing they had just stayed in bed. The rain stopped the River Cats game on Sunday with Portland after the 7th inning with the game tied, 3-3. When the game resumed on Monday, it didn't take long for the River Cats to lose their grip on the game.

Sacramento closer Chris Mabeus came in to preserve the tie in the bottom of the 8th but was unable to get the job done. He walked three and allowed two hits, including the game-winning hit from Ben Johnson to drive in J.J. Furmanik. The final score was 4-3. Sacramento leftfielder Matt Watson hit his first homerun of the year before the rains came on Sunday. Third baseman Adam Morrissey went 3-4 to continue his recent good work at the plate.

A few hours later, the River Cats and Beavers resumed play to start their regularly scheduled Monday game. Sacramento fell behind early, as River Cats starter Mario Ramos was touched up for single runs in the second and third. The Beavers' lead grew to 4-0 in the bottom of the 7th when Jon Knott hit a two-run homer off of reliever Billy Sylvester. It was Knott's second homerun of the game.

The quiet River Cats offense came to life in the 8th and 9th to tie the game in dramatic fashion and send it into extra-innings. The River Cats used a balk to get their first run of the game in the 8th inning. Down 4-1 in the 9th, Sacramento pulled out a three-run rally to tie it. Jack Cust doubled to lead-off the inning. With one out, John Baker and Mike Rouse both walked to load the bases. Jermaine Clark hit a sacrifice fly to narrow the Beavers lead to 4-2. Baker and Rouse advanced to second and third on a wild pitch and both came around to score on Freddie Bynum's clutch two-out, game-tying double. Sacramento was unable to get Bynum across, however, and after a shut-out bottom of the 9th inning by Sylvester, the game went into extras.

The River Cats went down in order in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the 10th, Ron Flores took over for Sylvester. Flores allowed a lead-off single to Furmanik and then promptly retired the next two batters on fly balls to center. The lefty wasn't able to close out the inning, however, as Michael Hernandez hit a walk-off homer to end the River Cats hopes of snapping their losing streak. Sacramento was swept by Portland for the first time in their history and are now two games under .500 after starting the season at 5-1.

Midland's Winning Streak Snapped

The Rockhounds winning streak came to end on Monday at the hands of Corpus Christi. A four-run 4th inning did Midland in, as the Hooks batted around in that 4th inning to break open a 3-2 game. Starter Drew Dickinson had his first really rough start, as he was touched up for seven runs (two earned) and nine hits in only 4.2 innings pitched. Dickinson was hurt by some shaky defense from first baseman Brian Stavisky (who was getting a rare start in the field to give Brant Colamarino a rest) and Omar Quintanilla, who continues to struggle with his throws from short.

Midland managed only four hits against the Corpus Christi pitching staff. One of those hits was a two-run homer by leftfielder Andre Ethier, who continues to display impressive power. The homer was Ethier's fourth of the season. Despite going 1-3 with a walk, his batting average actually went down to .459 on the day. Midland reliever Nick Brannon added another 1.1 shutout innings on Monday. The middle reliever has now worked eight scoreless innings on the year. He has yet to walk a batter and has struck out nine.

Kane County Earns Split with Burlington

Starter Ryan Ford gave the Cougars a solid outing and the Kane County bullpen made it count, as the Cougars held on to a 2-1 win over the Burlington Bees. Kane County scored single runs in the second and fourth innings and made both of the runs hold up in the third one-run game of the series.

The Cougars got on the board first in the second when Chalon Tietje doubled to lead-off the inning and then he came around to score on a groundout and a wild pitch. Another Tietje double factored in the Cougars' other run, as he drove a pitch into the gap in right with two outs to drive in Wes Long. Tietje, who joined the Cougars' roster after Javier Herrera was suspended to start the season, has played well in limited action this season. He is now hitting .333 on the season.

Ford was masterful in his six innings of work. He scattered three hits and two walks and struck out seven batters. Ford also helped himself out by picking off two base-runners. The Cougars' relief pitching was just as effective. Connor Robertson was perfect in his two innings of work, striking out two and retiring all six batters he saw. Closer Scot Drucker came on in the 9th and pitched around a lead-off single to record his third save of the season. Drucker struck out Rusty Brown with a runner on second to preserve the Cougars' one-run win. Both Drucker and Robertson have yet to allow a run this season.

The 5-6 Cougars will head home to Kane County on Tuesday to try to even their record. They will have an eight-game homestand.

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