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April 8, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Cook and Wilson dazzle in PawSox doubleheader

4/8 Cup of Coffee: Stellar pitching in Pawtucket and the debut of Henry Owens highlights an exciting night down on the farm. 
Aaron Cook
(William Parmeter)

Aaron Cook took the hill for the PawSox in Game 1 against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI). He pitched a 7 inning complete game, allowing 5 hits and 1 unearned run, while walking 2 and striking out 4. He induced 11 ground ball outs and only 2 fly outs. Cook used his sinker effectively all game, keeping it down in the zone where the IronPigs could only beat it into the ground. The only time he ran into trouble was the top of the sixth, when he started the inning with eight straight balls. After a visit to the mound from pitching coach Rich Sauveur, Cook induced a double play and then got a strikeout to end the inning.

Lehigh Valley got on the board first in the game, pushing a run across in the 3rd inning. The inning started with a ground ball deep in the hole at short that Jose Iglesias showed excellent range in getting to. He threw across his body to try and get the runner at first, but Mauro Gomez could not handle the low throw and the runner advanced to second on Iglesias' error. After the runner was moved over to third base, Andres Blanco hit a groundball past a drawn-in infield to put the IronPigs up 1-0. The PawSox tied the game in the bottom of the fourth when Lars Anderson hit a fly ball to right field that Lou Montanez dropped, and Ryan Lavarnway scored from third. Will Middlebrooks followed Anderson with a force out that allowed the go-ahead run to score. The PawSox tacked on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth with a Jason Repko solo home run over everything in left field, and an Iglesias sac fly. 

In Game 2, it was Alex Wilson's time to shine, and he threw 5.0 innings, allowing only 1 run and 3 hits, while walking 1 and striking out 7. Unfortunately, the PawSox bullpen could not hold the lead, and they lost, 3-2. Wilson gave up a fluky run in the top of the first. He allowed a single to Andres Blanco, who advanced to second on a balk, moved to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a sac fly. The single was the only hard-hit ball of the inning. Wilson seemed to be mad after the balk call, and he blew a 97 MPH fastball past Montanez. He added a 96 MPH fastball to the next batter just for good measure. The PawSox got the run back in the second when Gomez hit a long fly ball onto the lawn in left field for a home run. They took the lead in the bottom of the third when Daniel Nava ripped a single to left, scoring Pedro Ciriaco. Chorye Spoone came on in relief of Wilson in the top of the sixth and immediately let two runs score, giving the IronPigs a 3-2 lead. Phillippe Aumont was able to close the door in the bottom of the seventh, giving Lehigh Valley a split of the doubleheader. 

Portland is still looking for its first win of the year after the Reading Phillies (PHI) completed a four-game sweep of the Sea Dogs with a 4-1 win. Chris Hernandez started for Portland, and he cruised until the fourth inning. After walking the first two batters, he gave up consecutive singles which plated one run each. He then gave up another single after the third walk of the inning, extending Reading's lead to 3-0. Down 4-0 in the eighth, Portland had its best shot at a comeback. A Jeremy Hazelbaker single, a Ryan Dent walk, and a Heiker Meneses single loaded the bases with nobody out. However, Juan Carlos Linares popped out, Kolbrin Vitek hit an RBI groundout, and Bryce Brentz hit a sharp line drive right at the left fielder to end the threat with only one run scoring. 

The Frederick Keys (BAL) got the best of Salem last night, defeating them 10-4. After a disappointing year in 2011, Salem starter Drake Britton was looking to start this season off on the right foot. Unfortunately, it was more of the same for Britton, who was shelled for 8 runs on 8 hits in 4.1 innings. One silver lining is that he did not walk a batter, after control problems plagued him for most of last season. SoxProspects.com Senior Columnist Jon Meoli was at the game, and he noted that it looked like Britton had sacrificed some velocity in order to have better control of his fastball. The two biggest hits of the game against Britton were two-run home runs in the third and fourth innings respectively. Britton was chased from the game in the fifth after giving up two doubles, a single, and uncorking a wild pitch. Offensively, Salem had six players collect one hit, but it was not enough to match the high-powered Frederick offense. Jackie Bradley, Jr. drew two walks, including one with the bases loaded, and Carson Blair ripped an RBI double to lead Salem. 

Greenville got some help from rehabbing major leaguers and defeated the Lakewood BlueClaws (PHI), 11-6. Rich Hill started for the Drive, and he struck out the side, all looking, in his only inning of work. He was followed by Andrew Miller, who gave up two hits, but struck out 2 and did not allow a run. After Hill and Miller got their innings in, it was time for the professional debut of 2011 supplemental first-rounder Henry Owens. Owens started off very well, striking out 7 batters in his first 3 innings. He allowed five baserunners in his fourth inning of work, all of whom would score, without recording an out. Of the five hits, only two left the infield, and only one was well-struck. The video feed showed Owens' fastball velocity was in the mid 90's, and he was able to keep hitters off balance with his big curveball. Fellow 2011 first-round pick Blake Swihart continued to swing a hot bat, going 3 for 4 with a double, walk, and a stolen base. Jose Garcia had the biggest hit of the game, blasting a two-run home run to left field to give the Drive a three-run lead in the bottom of the seventh. Garcia finished the game 3 for 4 with four RBI. 

Player of the Day: Aaron Cook was dominant for the PawSox on Saturday, and if something should happen in the big league rotation, he is first in line for a call up. His seven-inning complete game featured only a handful of instances of solid contact, and his 11-2 ground ball to fly ball ratio is exactly the thing Red Sox fans want to see from Cook. 

Salem and Greenville are in action on Easter Sunday. 2011 first-round pick Matt Barnes will make his professional debut in Greenville at 4:05PM, and the game will be available on MiLB.TV.