Portland rally comes up short

Portland, hoping to extend a seven game winning streak against Round Rock's red hot ace Jason Hirsh, came up short despite a ninth inning rally. The 6-foot-8 right-hander came into the matchup without allowing an earned run over 15 innings in his last two starts (both wins). The Beavers were held to only five hits during Hirsh's seven solid innings, despite working the pitcher for four walks and an earned run in the fifth, halting Hirsh's streak of earned-run-free innings at 19 2/3.

Portland continued their walking ways getting three of their six passes from Jack Cust, who ranks second in the PCL in OBP (.464) and has walked in nine consecutive games. He has now walked a whopping 32 times over the last 22 games. Cust, who came into the contest second in the PCL in homeruns (eight) and tied for first in runs scored (31) was unable to advance past first base each time he reached.

Beavers pitching, notwithstanding a 1.80 ERA over the past seven straight wins (65IP), was shaken down for four earned runs over Saturday's matchup. Starter Tim Stauffer lasted only five innings, in spite of throwing 49 of 68 pitches for strikes and only walking one batsman while striking out five. Altogether, the Beavers staff did not give up more than one run in any of their opponent's four scoring innings. Lefty Eric Burke threw two innings of middle relief, fanning four batters, walking two (one of which was intentional) and allowing no runs.

Down 4-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, Terrmel Sledge led off by being hit by a pitch. Up next, Jon Knott reached second and Sledge reached third on a fielding error by Express second baseman, Brooks Conrad. David Matranga, who had a big night with a double, a single, and a run scored, then reached on a fielder's choice that saw Sledge pegged at home. A clutch single by Jason Hill produced his second hit and second RBI of the game. Pinch hitter Luke Carlin walked to load the bases with one out, but the Beavers could not produce again. Portland left the bases loaded and finished as a team with nine baserunners stranded. Round Rock maintains a 15-0 record when leading after seven innings. Despite a firework display following the game, on this night there wasn't a whole lot for Beaver fans to celebrate.

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