Cust blasts off, Germano shuts it down

Portland, OR – The first homerun was impressive, but it was the second round-tripper by Jack Cust a few innings later that really awed the crowd and set Beaver fans into a frenzy. The towering shot finally touched down after smacking about a quarter of the way up the side of the Multnomah Athletic Club, the enormous cement edifice that sits fifty yards beyond the right field wall at PGE Park.

Jack Cust, Vince Sinisi, and Craig Stansberry had three hits apiece, as they led the way for the Portland Beavers (4-6) in continuing their offensive onslaught from the night before against the Fresno Grizzlies (6-5), pounding out 12 hits in the 6-1 victory Saturday afternoon. Justin Germano pitched seven impressive innings, silencing the Grizzlies' league leading offense and improving his record to 2-0 this season.

The Beavers sported their throwback style jerseys in game two of the opening homestand and followed suit with some throwback style baseball in the second inning. Manager Rick Renteria used a hit-and-run amid singles by Luis Cruz, Germano, Adam Shabala, and Stansberry to plate the first two runs of the game.

Three Portland errors in the top half of the next frame gave a run back to the Grizzlies. Guillermo Rodriguez, Fresno's catcher, grounded to third baseman Brett Dowdy who bobbled the ball in his glove and made a late throw to first. Rodriguez swiped second base a few pitches later and took third when Brandon Gottier's throw went wide of the bag and dribbled into right-centerfield. He would score the only Fresno run later on a groundball out to second base.

Sinisi turned on a 1-and-2 fastball, smacking a two-run home run to right field in the bottom half of the third, finishing the afternoon 3-for-4. Craig Stansberry followed up his three hit game last night with another one today, including a double off the wall in right. His hot hitting has led to a .351 batting average so far this season, with at least one hit in all but one game.

Cust, whose homers came in the fifth and seventh innings, finished the game 3-for-3 with a walk. He struggled to start the season, having no hits in his first 16 plate appearances, but has come on strong of late. In these first two home games he has six hits in ten at bats, with three home runs, a game-winning double last night, and six RBIs. There's no place like home.

The Beavers' offense has struggled to start the season, ranking among the bottom of the Pacific Coast League, but like it's leader, Cust, has come alive since coming home, putting up 26 hits and 16 runs in these two games.

Beavers Manager Rick Renteria is obviously pleased. "They've been grinding out their at bats," he said after the game. "It's like anything, you start out a little slow, but these guys have kept the positive mentality and continued to go after it. When things are going tough, that's when you got to look at yourself and grind out at bats."

Beaver pitching coach Gary Lance was hoping for a strong outing from his starter, Germano, after using six pitchers in the 12-inning marathon win the night before. He got his wish when Germano exited after the seventh inning having given up only the one unearned run, three hits and no walks. He also helped his cause when he singled and scored in the second inning rally. His season ERA dropped to 0.75.

"Really nice game today," said Renteria. "He mixed his pitches well, he worked both sides of the plate, he kept them off balance, and showed a tremendous amount of presence. He showed a lot of poise and we're really happy about his outing."

Aaron Rakers finished the game out with two scoreless innings. In all, Portland's bullpen has kept the Grizzlies scoreless in 11 consecutive innings during the first two games of this four-game series.

Fresno starting pitcher Matt Kinney got the loss, as he went six innings and gave up all five runs. He has a 1-1 record on the season.

Justin Leone's return to Portland has not been ideal. After sitting out of last night's game, he went 0-4 with a strikeout and did not hit a ball solid all day.

Rick Renteria post-game audio:


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