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April 8, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Affiliates begin 2011 with sweep

4/8 Cup of Coffee: While the major league squad continued to languish to begin 2011, Pawtucket, Portland and Greenville all brought home victories as the minor league season kicked off in grand fashion Thursday.

Pawtucket overcame a last minute pitching change to clip the Rochester Red Wings (MIN) 2-1. Scheduled starter Alfredo Aceves was scratched before the game as he was recalled to Boston. Scott Atchison made the emergency start and filled in admirably for Aceves, going 4.2 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits while striking out 8. The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth inning, when Rochester staged a two out rally to bring home the game’s first run. The PawSox retaliated in the bottom of the sixth, plating two on a Juan Carlos Linares RBI triple that proved to be the contest’s game winning hit. Rich Hill relieved Atchison and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings of relief, allowing 3 hits and striking out 4 to collect the victory. Hideki Okajima pitched a clean eighth inning and Michael Bowden was impressive in a 1-2-3 ninth inning as he picked up the save. Shortstop Jose Iglesias was 2 for 3 at the plate in his first Triple-A game to lead the Pawtucket offense.

In a back-and-forth affair, Portland edged the Reading Phillies (PHI) 4-3. Alex Wilson took the mound for the Sea Dogs, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits while striking out 3 to pick up his first victory of 2011. Will Middlebrooks RBI single in the bottom of the second gave the Sea Dogs an early 1-0 advantage. After Reading scored twice in the top of the third, Alex Hassan’s RBI single brought home Ryan Dent with the tying run in the bottom half of the inning. Tim Federowicz laced an RBI single in the fourth to give Portland a 3-2 advantage. Reading once again struck back, tying the game in the top of the fifth. The Sea Dogs would get the winning run in the bottom half of the inning, as Che-Hsuan Lin led off with an RBI triple and came around to score on Hassan’s sacrifice fly. Seth Garrison relieved Wilson and pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh inning. Blake Maxwell finished off the game for Portland, picking up the save. Hassan was 2 for 3 with 2 RBI and Chih-Hsien Chiang was 3 for 3 with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored to lead the Portland offense.

Displaying a stellar offensive output, the Greenville Drive stung the Augusta GreenJackets (SF) 12-6. Manuel Rivera picked up a win in his first start of 2011, going 7.0 innings, allowing 4 runs, 1 earned, on 7 hits while punching out 4. The Drive got on the board first in the bottom of the second, receiving back-to-back home runs from Brandon Jacobs and Jose Garcia to take an early 3-0 lead. The GreenJackets followed with a run in the third, but played from behind the entire contest. A six-run fourth inning gave Greenville a 9-1 lead and was highlighted by a Jacobs RBI single, Sean Coyle RBI double and a Bryce Brentz grand slam. The Drive added a single run in the sixth and seventh on a Felix Sanchez RBI ground out, followed by a bases loaded walk. They tacked on another in the eighth when Jacobs singled in a run. Tyler Lockwood came on for the final 2.0 innings, allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 3 hits while striking out 2. Greenville committed six errors, including two from their shortstop Garcia. Brentz and Jacobs each had 3 hits and 4 RBI to pace the Drive offense.

Players of the Night: Bryce Brentz and Brandon Jacobs, who both went 3 for 4 with a home run and 4 RBI in Greenville’s 12-6 victory over the Augusta GreenJackets.