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April 17, 2012 at 6:23 AM

Cup of Coffee: Ohlendorf and Thomas lead PawSox on Patriots' Day

4/17 Cup of Coffee: The Sox affiliates got a split on Patriots' Day, with Pawtucket and Salem picking up victories while Portland lost a late lead and Greenville's struggles continued.

Tony Thomas (Kelly O'Connor)
Pawtucket began its series with a 4-3 win over the Syracuse Chiefs (WAS). Ross Ohlendorf gave his second excellent performance in as many starts to run his record to 2-0, throwing six shutout innings before running out of gas in the seventh. His final line shows 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits, walking 1 and striking out 3 in six innings of work. The PawSox never trailed, as recently activated second baseman Tony Thomas led the offense. Thomas gave Pawtucket a 1-0 lead on his first home run of the season in the third inning, then added a second home run in the fifth following an Alex Hassan single to put the PawSox up 3-0. Ryan Lavarnway led off the sixth with his first home run of the season in what proved to be a valuable insurance run. After six shutout innings, Ohlendorf allowed the first five batters of the seventh to reach, departing with the score 4-2 and the bases loaded. Garrett Mock came on in relief, and allowed an RBI single that cut the lead to one, but then struck out the next three batters. Andrew Miller rebounded from a poor performance the previous night to strike out the side in the eighth, and Junichi Tazawa allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth to pick up his first career save at any professional level.
After holding a lead through eight innings, Portland had a tough come from behind loss to the New Britain Rock Cats (MIN) 10-5 in 11 innings. Chris Martin had his best start of the young season, going 6 strong innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, no walks and 3 strikeouts.  Kolbrin Vitek was the offensive star for the Sea Dogs, extending his hitting streak to eight games with a three-hit effort that included two doubles. Reynaldo Rodriguez went 1 for 4 with his first home run of the season, and Ronald Bermudez and Jeremy Hazelbaker both went 2 for 5. Portland took a 5-2 lead into the ninth, but things quickly fell apart. Jeremy Kehrt, who was unscored upon in the seventh and eighth, began the ninth with a leadoff walk and was lifted for Aaron Kurcz.  Kurcz retired the first two batters he faced, but with the RockCats down to their final out, a walk and a Chris Colabello two run homer tied the game at 5-5. After a scoreless tenth, New Britain piled five more runs on Kurcz in the eleventh to pick up the win. Old friend Daniel Turpen was the winner for the Rock Cats, while Kurcz took the loss.

Salem pitchers combined on a four-hitter in a 5-0 victory over the Lynchburg Hillcats (ATL)Rich Hill, continuing his rehab from Tommy John surgery, got the start and pitched an inning, striking out two and walking only one. He was followed by Keith Couth, who was very impressive over 6 innings of relief, scattering 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7. That gives Couch 19 strikeouts on the season, to lead both the Red Sox organization and the Carolina League. Ruben Flores finished things off with two hitless innings, recording 2 strikeouts and allowing only a hit batsman. Salem got things started offensively when Shannon Wilkerson led off the bottom of the first with a double, stole third base, and scored on an error by Lynchburg shortstop Nick Ahmed. They added another in the second inning, when a Carson Blair double followed by a James Kang single gave the Sox a first and third with one out. Felix Sanchez hit a grounder to short, but Blair was able to score when Sanchez beat the relay to first to avoid a double play. Salem took a 3-0 lead in the fifth on back to back doubles by Sean Coyle and Brandon Jacobs, and added another in the seventh when Coyle singled and scored on a double by Travis Shaw. They picked up their fifth and final run in the eighth when Christian Vazquez singled, moved up to third on a two-base error by Ahmed, and scored on sacrifice fly by Kang. Overall, Salem had 12 hits, with Coyle’s 3 for 4 evening leading the way.

Greenville’s difficult road trip continued, as the Lexington Legends (HOU) knocked them off 6-2, handing the Drive its sixth consecutive loss. After two strong starts to begin the season, Luis Diaz struggled and took the loss, as he was roughed up for 5 runs on 7 hits in only 3.1 innings, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He was followed out of the pen by Nefi Ogando, who gave up 1 run in 2.2 innings, allowing 2 hits, 2 walks and striking out 2. Tyler Lockwood pitched 2 scoreless innings, walking 2 against 1 strikeout. The offense was limited to four hits by Lynchburg pitching. The Drive picked up one run in the third when Jordan Weems walked, advanced to third on an error, and scored on a Cody Koback groundout. They rallied for a second run in the sixth inning, as a Jose Garcia walk was followed by a Lucas LeBlanc single and an RBI double by Henry Ramos, but that would be all for Greenville as Lynchburg pitching shut down their offense for the rest of the evening.

 Player of the Night: Tony Thomas, in his second game back from the disabled list, powered the Pawtucket offense with his two home run night, driving in three in a 4-3 victory.