Cust saves the day in home opener

Cesar Carrillo

Portland, OR-- Aided by sloppy play and strong late inning pitching, the Portland Beavers rally late and even later to send hometown fans home gladdened after a four-plus hour duel with Fresno.

The Portland Beavers' home opener in front of 7,522 fans was on a cool and drizzly Friday the 13th in which starter Cesar Carrillo continued to struggle with bad luck and the Fresno Grizzlies.

Overcoming a short history of arm troubles, the Portland right-hander was again rattled early giving up nine hits, nine runs (all earned), and three walks through just three innings. Despite a five run second inning triggered by doubles from Oscar Robles and Craig Stansberry, and capped by a towering three-run homerun by Jack Cust, the Beavers offense prowess was squandered by a six run third inning at the hands of a shaky Carrillo. The nine runs allowed by the right-hander was a career-high and initially appeared to be the end for an offensively shopworn Portland team.

Stepping to the mound in the fourth inning was fireballing reliever Andrew Brown who exhibited great poise and control, mixing up low-to-mid 90 MPH fastballs with sharp sliders. Also, with a history of arm trouble, Brown looked like the spring chicken Portland had hoped for, allowing only one hit, no walks, while fanning three in two innings. Padres hopeful Tim Stauffer made an appearance out of the bullpen to strengthen ailing muscles and was resolute, extending two more scoreless innings for the Beavers.

Portland's bullpen gleaned the craggy start with nine consecutive scoreless innings between five relievers including Brown, Stauffer, Justin Hampson, Leo Rosales, and Scott Strickland.

Left-handed right fielder Vince Sinisi provided a critical hit to score Luke Carlin in the fifth inning following a double by the Beaver catcher whom added some incisive defense in the game as well. From behind the dish, Carlin threw out two baserunners attempting to steal and made one of the most climacteric plays of the contest. Carlin to the cheers of "Luuuuuuke!" took a great throw from Sinisi and tagged out a potential go ahead runner to end Fresno's tenth inning rally.

With two outs in the bottom of the twelfth inning, Royce Huffman singled up the middle. It was Cust who pulled a fastball into right field that was bobbled by Nate Schierholz, allowing Huffman to circle the bases and give the Beavers their third win of the season.

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