AAA Beavers get 7-4 win behind Justin Leone homer

The Portland Beavers improved their record to 9-8 with a 7-4 victory over the Salt Lake City Bees at PGE Park on Sunday.

The Beavers were led by Walter Young, who clubbed two solo home runs. Young’s second solo shot was a monster: the ball eclipsed the 405-foot sign in deep center field.

Justin Leone added a three-run, game winning blast in the fifth inning. Leone’s home run sent the crowd of 4,724 into a fury, as his ball hit the top of the scoreboard in center field.

Mike Thompson moved to 2-0 on the year with a solid performance on the mound. Striking out six in seven innings, Thompson kept the Bees’ hitters off-balance with off-speed pitches and good location.

Thompson has been solid for the Beavers all season long. He has thrown 17 strike outs in 23 innings. He now stands as the only Portland pitcher with two victories.

The key to the Beavers’ win was reliever Brian Sikorski. Pitching out of a bases-loaded, no outs situation in the eighth, Sikorski struck out the side. Sikorski, combining a high heater with back-breaking changeups, had the Bees’ hitters swinging out air for his two innings on the mound.

Leone raised his batting average to .460 on Sunday. The hot hitting third baseman now has eight home runs and 23 RBIs on the season.

For Young, the game was a break out. Young had been mired in a week-long slump. Sunday’s effort brought his average to .262 and gave him three home runs and six RBIs.

Portland now sits in third place in the Pacific Coast League North. The Beavers are 1.5 games behind the league leading Tacoma Rainiers.

For Portland to keep pace with Tacoma, the Beavers’ starting pitching will have to improve. Portland ranks next to the bottom in the entire PCL with a 5.40 team ERA. The Beavers’ starting pitchers are also tied at the top for having given up the most home runs (20).

In contrast, it has been Portland’s power hitting that has kept the Beavers in most games. The Beavers are tied for second in the PCL lead in team home runs (20). Ranking second to last in team-stolen bases (six), Portland has announced itself as a long ball team since the season began. Now that the 315 pound Young appears to have broken out of his slump, the Beavers’ long balls may be on the rise.

Portland’s current home stand extends through this Tuesday. Then, following an off day, the Beavers will be back at PGE Park, April 27-30, to face the Fresno Grizzlies.