Sun and LeBlanc make brief appearances
Wade LeBlanc
Wade LeBlanc
MadFriars.com
Posted May 1, 2008
John Conniff


PORTLAND, OR- Wade LeBlanc may have gotten off to the roughest start of his career, allowing six hits, two of the towering home runs to left field as first inning sunshine brought out the Redhawks bats.

The danger could have been possibly limited to one dinger, but third baseman Craig Stansberry’s errant throw on a tough chance down the third base line pulled first baseman Brian Myrow off of the bag allowing the inning to continue.

Oklahoma City followed with two straight singles before catcher Kevin Richardson hit the second three-run home run of the inning.

Designated hitter Jody Gerut, who has been red hot got one back in the bottom of the inning with a home run down the right field line, his third of the series.

“He had a great winter ball and a nice camp. His numbers could be a100 points higher because he went through a spell where he was just hitting everything hard and nothing was falling,” said Beavers manager Randy Ready.

The next inning, the Redhawk batters picked up where they left off with Wade LeBlanc, as centerfielder Jason Ellison opened the inning with a double to left field followed by a walk. LeBlanc came close again to getting out of the inning with minimal damage when he picked shortstop Joaquin Arias off of second after right fielder Nelson Cruz flied out. But a walk, and a single followed by third baseman Ryan Roberts’ two-out two-run single added on to the total to give the Redhawks an 8-1 advantage.

The Beavers fought back in their half of the inning with back-to-back hits by center fielder Chip Ambres and shortstop Marshall McDougall followed by a walk to catcher Luke Carlin. Stansberry brought in one run in on a fielder’s choice and Gerut got his second RBI of the game in as many plate appearances with a sacrifice fly, setting the table for left fielder Chase Headley.

Headley, who hit the ball hard earlier, promptly drilled a ground rule double to center field scoring Stansberry.

LeBlanc lasted three innings, allowing 10 hits, eight runs, all of them earned, and three walks. It was his second bad outing in a row, as LeBlanc is still struggling to command his two-seam fastball, a pitch he didn’t use last year.

“He looks tentative out there right now with his command and location were off and he wasn’t pitching with confidence. If he’s tentative he’s not going to survive. If he’s just going through a spell with his command he’ll be ok because there is no question that he has had success,” said Ready.

In the fourth, the Redhawks took advantage of a throwing error by McDougall to first, which scored first baseman Nate Gold who doubled to lead off the inning. However, the Beavers were able to limit the damage by getting a double play to end the inning.

In the Beavers half of the inning, a double followed by a pair of walks loaded the bases for McDougall who doubled down the left field line with his third hit of the to cut the deficit to 9-7.

Clay Hensley, on a rehab assignment, came in and pitched a scoreless 6th and 7th innings, looking like the pitcher he was before last year.

“I’m feeling pretty back to normal and not thinking about mechanics. Right now, I feel like I did in 2006, but I want to make sure I’m a 100 percent before I get back to San Diego. Tomorrow will be a big test since it’s the first time I’ve thrown two innings,” said Hensley.

In the eighth inning, back-to-back singles by Gerut and Headley put the Beavers with runners on the corners and no outs. A wild pitch by Redhawks pitcher Bill White brought home Gerut and a second moved Headley to third. But the next three batters were unable to bring him home stranding him at third with Portland still down one run.

After a thirty minute rain delay, both teams took the field to complete the ninth. The Redhawks were able to hang on despite Gerut giving the sparse remaining crowd a brief thrill with a long fly ball to right field to end the game.

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