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August 28, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Hurricane Irene hits, Salem Sox walk off, and the GCL season comes to an end

8/28 Cup of Coffee: With Hurricane Irene hitting the East Coast, the PawSox and the Spinners had their games cancelled on Saturday. The PawSox game against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (NYY) will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Monday. The Spinners game against the Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU) will not be made up. The GCL season came to an end yesterday in heart-breaking fashion, while Salem and Greenville each had solid victories.

With Irene lingering in the distance, Portland managed to get two games in, losing the first game to the Reading Phillies (PHI) 6-2, before bouncing back with a 4-2 victory in Game 2. Jeremy Hazelbaker was the star of Game 1 going 3 for 3 with 2 stolen bases. Ronald Bermudez went 1 for 2 with a double, walk, and a run scored, while the rest of the team went a combined 2 for 19. Starter Matt Rusch pitched 4.2 innings allowing 4 runs on 7 hits, walking 1 and striking out 1. Game 2 featured a balanced offensive attack led by Mark Wagner who went 2 for 4 with a double and home run. Alex Hassan, who has had a good month of August after seeing his production fall off sharply in July, added a home run of his own. Oscar Tejeda went 2 for 4 with a strikeout and Hazelbaker went 1 for 4 with a strikeout and a stolen base. Hazelbaker has had a solid year offensively but he needs to work on cutting down his strikeout rate and getting better reads on fly balls in order to become a player who can contribute on a major league roster. Michael Lee started the game, tossing 3.2 innings giving up 5 hits but only 1 run, with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. Eammon Portice was great in relief tossing 2.1 innings giving up only 1 hit. He racked up 4 strikeouts while walking none.

In the most exciting game of the night, the Salem Sox walked off against the Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC) with a 10-9 victory. Every starter for Salem collected at least 1 hit. Bryce Brentz led the offense going 3 for 5 with a walk and a strikeout, and Derrik Gibson went 2 for 4 with 2 walks and 3 runs scored. After going down 5-0 in the 4th inning, Salem responded with 6 unanswered runs to recapture the lead. Wilmington fired back with 3 more runs to take an 8-6 lead going to the bottom of the ninth. A combination of walks to Gibson and Kolbrin Vitek, 2 wild pitches, and a double by Jorge Padron tied the game at 8. After Wimington scored 1 run in the top of the 11th, Gibson started the rally in the bottom of the inning with a single to center. Heiker Menses layed down a sacrifice bunt to move Gibson and his plus speed into scoring position, but the first baseman threw the ball away. Gibson scored and Menses went to 3rd, where he scored on Shannon Wilkerson's sacrifice fly to end the game. Bobby Jenks was scheduled to start this game as part of his rehab, but he was scratched due to an illness. Drake Britton got the start, and he was cruising through 3 innings before running into trouble in the 4th. His final line for the night was 4.0 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts. While this season has been a disappointment for Britton, he still has the stuff to be an above-average starter. His command has taken a huge step back this year which has led to the poor results. As he gets further along in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery, the command should sharpen and his results will improve.

The Greenville Drive easily defeated the Augusta GreenJackets (SF) 10-4. Catcher Christian Vazquez, who earlier this week celebrated his 21st birthday, had a near perfect night at the ballpark. Vazquez went 4 for 4 with a double, home run, walk, and picked a runner off of first base. Xander Bogaerts connected for another home run and also added a double. Bogaerts has been one of the hottest hitters in the minors the past 2 weeks, and an .850 OPS from an 18 year old in the Sally league puts him in very elite company. Brandon Jacobs added a double, but also struckout twice. Felix Sanchez went 1 for 3 with 2 walks and 2 stolen bases. He now has 53 steals on the year. Scott Swinson earned the victory, going 5.0 innings allowing 3 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3.

The last game of the GCL season was a forgettable one as the GCL Twins (MIN) walked off with a 3-2 victory. A Zach Kapstein 5th inning home run and a David Chester 7th inning home run gave the GCL Sox a 2-1 lead going into the 9th inning. However, the Twins won the game without having a single ball leave the infield. A walk, error, hit by pitch, walk, and error allowed 2 runs to score and ended the GCL season on a bitter note for the Red Sox. Blake Swihart and Jose Vinicio each went 0 for 4. Swihart struckout twice while Vinicio whiffed 3 times. Kendrick Perkins went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk, and Williams Jerez went 1 for 4 with a strikeout. Matt Price started going 1.0 inning allowing 1 run on 2 hits walking 1 and striking out 1. William Cuevas threw 6.0 shutout innings allowing 2 hits, 2 walks, and struckout 3. Jennell Hudson took the loss. He did not record an out, walked 2, and committed a crucial error. While the season did not end well, this team has several high upside players who will be fun to follow through the system. Swihart, Vinicio, Perkins, Jerez, Mookie Betts, and Jordan Weems are the names to pay the closest attention to.

Prospect Hitter of the Day: Christian Vazquez, who went 4 for 4 with a double, home run, walk, and picked a runner off of first base.

Prospect Pitcher of the Day: William Cuevas , who threw 6.0 shutout innings allowing 2 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 3.