Despite losing his sixth game in as many decisions, Portland right-hander Ryan Ketchner exhibited signs of strength. Ketchner (0-6, 4.24) was again the victim of a lack of run support and pointed pitching by Iowa’s J.R. Mathes. In all six of Ketchner’s losses, the Beavers have mustered no more than two runs. In total, Portland has provided just eight runs during those games. Mathes (5-3, 5.40) allowed just four hits and one run through six frames while fanning seven and walking two.
Portland’s defense sparkled after eleven straight games with errors. With two outs and Iowa’s Geovany Soto on first base, Josh Howard fielded a sharply hit Scott Moore single to the gap in center. Howard hit shortstop cut off man Ray Chang who fired to catcher Pete Laforest to nail a sliding Soto.
Helping his team’s cause in the bottom of the second inning, Chang hit a towering solo home run to left field to put the Beavers up 1-0. It would be Portland’s lone run and despite more defensive grueling, the Beavers just couldn’t find an answer to a timely and productive Iowa offense and uncompromising defense.
Nice defensive plays continued as the Beavers maintained the one-run edge through the first four innings. With one out and a runner at third in the top of the third inning, Royce Huffman handled a Ronny Cedeno grounder and threw home to save a run. Later in the fourth, with one out, Mike Samsoe made a nice bounding catch at the track in left center. Howard followed with an even more amazing grab at the 405 marker in center. Sprinting at full speed, Howard made a spectacular catch, crashing into the wall, doing a backward somersault, and robbing Buck Coats of extra bases.
Three of Portland’s six hits were provided by the hot bat of Chang. Chang has hit in his last four games with two homers and four runs batted in. In that span, he has seven hits in twelve at-bats.
A fifth-inning decision to intentionally walk Iowa leadoff hitter Cedeno with runners on second and third base bit the Beavers. Choosing to face a red-hot Felix Pie at the cusp of .400 proved to be a bad move. Pie smacked a two-run double to center field.
Scott Cassidy was called upon in relieve in the eighth inning. Cassidy struggled through just two-thirds of an inning, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk. Frank Brooks mopped up the mess getting out of the eighth inning for Cassidy and finishing the ninth frame as well, allowing no hits and a walk.