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June 14, 2010 at 8:57 AM

Fife brilliant in Portland victory


6/14 Cup of Coffee: It was generally a lack-luster afternoon for Sox affiliates on Sunday, although we were treated to a pitching gem and a thrilling walk-off win.

Pawtucket hitters drew an astounding 10 walks against Louisville (CIN) on Sunday, but managed only 4 hits and fell 3-1. Pawtucket's lone run in the game came on Gustavo Molina's home run to lead off the fifth inning, and the team threatened to add more later in that inning when Niuman Romero doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. But those runners were stranded, as were 11 others throughout the game, as Pawtucket was 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Adam Mills did his best to keep the PawSox in the game, scattering 9 hits and yielding 3 runs in 6.0 innings, while Robert Coello did not allow a hit in his 3.0 innings of relief, but it wasn't enough to overcome the lack of offense. Gil Velazquez, Lars Anderson, and Aaron Bates were all hitless in the game, but each collected 2 walks.

In a game that was scoreless into the fifth, Portland took advantage of 3 Akron (CLE) errors and managed just enough offense to pull out a 3-0 victory on the road. The offense was put in a position to win by Stephen Fife, who was masterful in his 6.0 innings, allowing only 2 hits while walking nobody and striking out 5. Eammon Portice was equally effective in his 2.0 innings of relief, allowing only 1 hit, and while Jason Rice did allow 2 hits in the ninth, he did manage to lock down the shutout and earn the save. The Sea Dogs took the lead for good in the fifth, when Ray Chang doubled with two outs to make it 1-0. Ryan Khoury's RBI single in the sixth made it 2-0, and Juan Apodaca was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth to bring home the final run. But it was Chang who was the offensive star, collecting 3 of Portland's 5 hits.

Salem held a 4-1 lead heading into the ninth, but Blake Maxwell imploded, giving up the tying runs in that inning being charged with the winning run in the tenth, as the Red Sox lost a heartbreaker to Frederick (BAL), 5-4. After Maxwell had blown the save in the ninth, he came out to start the tenth but gave up a lead-off double and was replaced by Kyle Fernandes. After a sacrifice bunt put the winning run at third, a bunt single drove the runner home and handed Salem the loss. All of that undid a solid pitching performance by Fabian Williamson, who lasted the first 5.0 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, walking 2 and striking out 4. The Red Sox took an early 1-0 lead in the first when Mitch Dening walked to lead off the game, stole second, and scored on a single by Ryan Lavarnway. After Frederick tied things up in the second, Dening again gave Salem the lead, this time with his bat, when he lofted a two-run home run out to right, his first of the year. Jorge Padron added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to make it 4-1, but it wasn't quite enough. Pete Hissey had a nice game at the plate as well, going 2 for 5, and Lavarnway was 3 for 5 in the loss.

It was another close game down in Greenville, but this time Sox affiliates were on the right side of the celebration, as the Drive scored three in the ninth to walk off with a win over Greensboro (FLA). The Hoppers led 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth, having done that damage against starter Pete Ruiz, when Michael Thomas drew the Drive closer with an RBI double. Despite allowing those runs, Ruiz put in a good start, allowing 7 hits but no walks in 6.0 innings, striking out 5. Greenville drew closer still in the bottom of the eighth when Ronald Bermudez hit his twentieth double of the year to drive home Jeremy Hazelbaker, who had doubled two batters earlier, to make it 3-2. Greensboro scored an insurance run in the ninth to make it 4-2, but the Drive would not give in. Reynaldo Rodriguez singled to lead things off and was doubled to third by Reymond Fuentes. After Dan Butler walked, a wild pitch allowed Rodriguez to score. Christian Vazquez was intentionally walked to re-load the bases with nobody out, but after Thomas struck out and Hazelbaker grounded into a force play, with the out recorded at home, things once again looked bleak. But Derrik Gibson came up big with two outs, lacing a single to left that plated the tying and winning runs. The only Drive hitter with multiple hits was Bermudez, who was 2 for 4, although Hazelbaker did steal his 31st base of the year, while Fuentes swiped 2 bags, giving him 24 on the year.

Finally, in DSL action, the Red Sox couldn't overcome the Astros, falling 6-2. After falling behind 1-0 in the first, David Sopilka gave the Red Sox a lead with his two-out, two-run triple in the second. But the lead was short lived, as the Astros scored 4 runs in the third against starter Luis Diaz, and coasted to the win from there. The Red Sox did threaten in the sixth, when Xander Bogaerts, Curtney Doran, and Dreily Guerrero walked in succession to load the bases with one out, but they were all left on base when Roberto Duncan struck out and Derward Ruiz flew out to end the inning. Two Red Sox reached base in each of the next two frames as well, but none of them scored, as the team was just 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Sopilka was the only multi-hit performer, going 2 for 3 with a double and a triple.

Player of the Night: Stephen Fife, who allowed only 2 hits in 6.0 innings, striking out 5 to help Portland to a 3-0 win.