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June 9, 2010 at 8:59 AM

FedEx ends epic battle with walk-off slam


6/9 Cup of Coffee: A slew of close games were on Tuesday's slate, including a few extra-innings contests, while Salem once again left the Lynchburg Hillcats shaking their heads in disbelief.

The PawSox jumped out to an early lead over Indianapolis (PIT), but this time the bullpen couldn't hold it, and Pawtucket fell 6-5 in eleven innings. After giving up a run in the first, starter Adam Mills was solid in this one, throwing 6.0 innings giving up just the 1 run on 5 hits, walking and striking out 3. He was pulled off the hook early when Jorge Jimenez roped a two-out, two-run single in the second. Pawtucket would score 3 more runs in the fourth on a Dusty Brown RBI double and a two-run error by the Indians to make it 5-1, but that's where the offense stopped, and the Indianapolis comeback began. After Mills left the game to begin the seventh inning, TJ Large couldn't record an out before he had allowed 3 runs, giving way to Dustin Richardson, who allowed an unearned run of his own to tie the score at 5. Fernando Cabrera provided 2.0 innings of scoreless relief to send the game to extras, but in the eleventh, Robert Manuel allowed a one-out triple, and the runner scored on an error by Niuman Romero to end the game. Aaron Bates and Daniel Nava were each 2 for 5 in this one.

Portland, too, grabbed a lead early on Tuesday and also managed to give it up. But the Sea Dogs were resilient, untying things in the ninth and winning a tight one, 4-3. The early lead was of the three-run variety and was created in the third, when Luis Exposito hit a two-run double and was later doubled home by Yamaico Navarro. But the comeback started right away against starter Stephen Fife, who allowed a run in the fourth and 2 more in the fifth to knot things at 3. Fife, who lasted 6.0 innings in this one, gave up 6 hits and a walk, striking out 4. From there, some stellar relief work from Santo Luis brought us to the ninth inning, where with two outs, Nate Spears walked, Ryan Khoury singled, Ray Chang walked, and Exposito was hit by a pitch to drive in the go-ahead run. Bryce Cox made sure that run became the winning run by pitching a scoreless ninth, allowing 2 baserunners by striking out 2 to earn the save. Portland banged out 11 hits in the game, and only Anthony Rizzo went hitless on the night, while Chang, Chih-Hsien Chiang, and Matt Sheely all went 2 for 4.

In another exciting back-and-forth game against Lynchburg (CIN), Salem scored first, got behind, tied things up, fell behind again in extra innings, but won it all on a walk-off grand slam, 10-6. It all started so innocently in the first, when Will Middlebrooks staked the Red Sox to a 1-0 lead with his RBI single. After starter Fabian Williamson allowed 3 runs over the next few innings, Oscar Tejeda scored on an errant pickoff throw in the fourth to make it 3-2 after he had singled to lead off the inning. Two innings later, Tim Federowicz became the hero when he tied things up at 3 with his RBI single, only to see Will Latimer and Blake Maxwell give up a run each to put Salem in a two-run ninth-inning hole. But the Red Sox would not go down quietly, as Ryan Dent hit his third home run of the year to cut the deficit to one, then Ryan Lavarnway doubled home Pete Hissey to tie things once again and send the game to extra innings. Things once again looked grim when Lance McClain gave up a solo home run in the top of the eleventh, but in the bottom of the frame, Mitch Dening led off with a single and scored one out later on a wild pitch, sending Hissey to third. And then, after two intentional walks and a shallow fly ball, Federowicz decided he was done playing for the night, launching a walk-off grand slam to left. He ended up 2 for 5 with 5 RBI in the game, while five other Salem hitters also had multiple hits, led by Dening's 3-for-5 performance from the lead-off spot.

While Greenville's contest against Augusta (SFG) was also tight at the outset, the Drive scored 3 in the seventh and won handily, 4-1. Things started off quite well for Greenville when Jeremy Hazelbaker homered to lead off the game, his fifth of the season. The lead held up for four innings thanks to the nifty start by Drake Britton, who tossed 3.0 scoreless innings, but the GreenJackets caught up to Tom Ebert in his second inning of relief, scoring in the fifth to tie things at 1. But that was all Augusta would get against Ebert, who delivered the game to the ninth inning with a 4-1 Drive lead intact, ultimately pitching 5.0 innings, striking out 7. That lead came courtesy of a three-run Drive rally in the seventh, highlighted by Reynaldo Rodriguez's two-run single. Dennis Neuman sealed the deal with a scoreless ninth. Ronald Bermudez and Zach Gentile had multi-hit games in this one, while Reymond Fuentes stole his 20th base of the season as part of a 1-for-3 night.

The DSL Red Sox built a decent lead early and held on to beat the DSL Royals, 5-4. Jesus Loya led off the game with a triple and scored on an RBI groundout by Xander Bogaerts to make it 1-0 early. Fast forward to the fourth, where Roberto Duncan singled following two walks to open the inning, and Derward Ruiz singled home the another run to make it 3-1. In the sixth, Loya and David Sopilka each drove home runs to make it 5-2, and the bullpen made it count from there, with Iago Januario pitching the final 1.2 innings scoreless to close out the game. Loya, Duncan, and Sopilka each had 2 hits in the game.

Player of the Night: Tim Federowicz, who hit a walk-off grand slam for Salem to end an epic battle with Lynchburg.