Madfriars.com in Portland: Beavers throw blanks

Chris Oxspring

Portland pitchers shut down Skysox bats, 6-0 in the opener and 1-0 in the nightcap in a seven inning doubleheader.

First game:
The Man from Down Under Shuts down the Skysox

Josh Barfield and Jon Knott do the damage with the bats, as the Aussie Chris Oxspring tosses his second complete game shutout.

Beavers 6 Skysox - 0

For Colorado Skysox pitcher Mike Esposito the good news was that he struck out the side in the first inning, the bad news was Barfield hammered his tenth home run of the season over the left field wall after Esposito walked Beaver's leadoff hitter Dustin Delucchi to start the game.

In the bottom of the third, Barfield smoked the first pitch he saw into the gap in left-centerfield for a double, his thirty-third multi-hit game of the year. A batter later, Knott walked and third baseman Sean Burroughs continued on his recent power surge doubling off of the rightfield wall - coming after yesterday's grand slam home run to rightfield - driving in two runs.

Shortstop Jesse Garcia drove Burroughs home with a single over the second baseman's head, to give the Beavers a 5-0 lead.

"He's starting to see some things happen that are giving him more confidence, it was a tough situation with what happened in San Diego, but he's really handled himself well since he came down here," said Beaver's manager Craig Colbert after the game on Burroughs.

In the bottom of the fifth, Barfield hit a shot to the right fielder, who dropped the ball for a two-base error and Knott doubled him in with his second extra base hit of the game, chasing Esposito.

Oxpring went seven strong innings, scattering five hits, walking no one and striking out six. Oxpring who came into the game with an 8-6 record has been up and down all year.

"Ox has had some really good starts for us this year, but he will have one where you ask what was that? That is one reason why his ERA is where it is, he's had a couple outings where he has given up seven or eight runs," Colbert explained. "Although the past month he has been really good for us, you get him past the first inning and he is tough."

Game Two
Jack Cassel, Jason Kershner and Scott Cassidy win tight nightcap for the Beavers, 1-0

A fielding mishap leads to the games only run in the fifth inning.

Beavers 1 Skysox 0

Through five innings Cassel only faced the minimum of fifteen batters, erasing two singles by getting the next batter to ground into a double play with catcher Nick Trzesniak throwing out Skysox rightfielder Ryan Spilborghs trying to steal second base.

"Jack was great in a spot start situation. He only had 65 pitches to work with, and threw pretty much nothing but a sinker" said Colbert.

In the top of the second inning, Barfield made a spectacular double play going to his left on a hard ground ball to the right of second base. In one motion he tagged a sliding runner coming at him and was able to gun the ball to first baseman Greg Sain in time to get the runner by a step.

After the game Colbert reflected on the perception that Barfield might still need to improve on his defense to make the next step.

"I had heard that his defense might not be what it needed to be, this guy for the 115 games he has played, plays one helluva second base."

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Beavers had their only scoring opportunity of the game and capitalized on it. Third baseman Jesse Garcia and catcher Nick Trzesniak put together back-to-back singles, giving the Beavers runners at first and third with one out.

Bobby Scales pinch hit for Cassel and struck out, but the Beavers caught a break. An attempted steal of second base by Trzesniak resulted in a throw error by Skysox catcher Pascual Matos, allowing Garcia to score from third base to give the Beavers the only run of the game.

Kershner and Cassidy pitched the final two innings, retiring the final six Skysox in order.

"Since Scott has been here he has been a strike throwing machine, I don't know why Boston traded him," Colbert said of his newfound closer. "He can really pitch to the corners with his fastball, he's done a very good job for us."

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