Portland bats fall silent

Portland's most attended home game of the 2006 season came on a beautiful mid-70 degrees day in which several students from various grade schools around the area came out to celebrate Beavers School Day. Before a season high crowd of 9,422, the Beavers, and their opponents, the Round Rock Express, put on a less than spectacular performance that saw the Beavers surrender three out of four games this season to Round Rock and finishing up their eight game homestand 5-3.

The competition was decided early in the top of the first inning as the Express right fielder Charlton Jimerson led off the assault with his second game opening double of the series. A Luke Scott double with one out in the inning scored Jimerson, adding to his PCL leading total bases tally (92). Immediately following the game's inaugural run, cleanup hitter Royce Huffman, on a 1-0 count, tagged took Seth Etherton (1-2) to deep left, giving the visitors the sum of their runs for the game and all they would need to defeat the Beavers.

Etherton, after a rickety first inning, supervened with five scoreless innings in which he retired Round Rock hitters consecutively twice. In his eighth start of the season, the right-hander allowed eight hits while fanning eight and allowing just one base-on-balls.

The Beavers hitting continued to exhibit its ability to reach base on balls, adding four more passes to their season high total (182). The Beav's bats, however, were silent when they were most need as ten Portland runners were left stranded.

Jack Cust, who in the first inning extended his PCL lead in walks (41), provided the lone run for the Beavers with a solo homerun (9) in the third inning. The blast followed Manny Alexander (0-for-4 for the game) grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. In the game, the Beavers sent no more than five batters to the plate in an inning, and were retired in order five times, including the last two innings by Roberto Giron. The save was Giron's first of the season.

Trying to overcome the rocky first inning, Beavers' pitching adroitly shutout Express hitting for the final eight innings. The four Portland pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts. Jimerson fell victim four consecutive at-bats and added to his PCL lead in whiffs (60). Portland relievers Aquilino Lopez, Eric Burke, and Brian Sikorski did not allow a run as they each threw one of the final three innings. Sikorski, in the top of the ninth inning, retired the top of the order on nine pitches with a strikeout.

Portland has a travel day on Wednesday and begins an eight-day roadstand in Tennessee versus Memphis on Thursday. With Salt Lake's 4-1 loss to Iowa, the Beavers (22-17) remain 1.5 games behind in the Pacific North.

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