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April 7, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Almanzar blasts Salem to first win of season, others struggle

Michael Almanzar (Kelly O'Connor)
4/7 Cup of Coffee: Salem opened the season with a win on the road; Greenville,  Portland, and Pawtucket all fell to opponents.

Pawtucket couldn't answer a ninth-inning run by the Buffalo Bisons (NYM) in a 2-1 loss at home. Brandon Duckworth pitched 6.2 solid innings for the PawSox, giving up 5 hits, 4 walks, and just 1 run in the fifth inning. Pawtucket picked up a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Lars Anderson doubled and then scored on a Ryan Lavarnway single. Tony Pena, who pitched 2.1 innings with 3 hits and no walks, gave up the ninth-inning run to Buffalo and was credited with the loss. Anderson and Will Middlebrooks had two hits a piece, but it was a disappointing night at the plate as the PawSox stranded 11 men on base and left the bases loaded twice.  Pawtucket will play its home opener tonight with a doubleheader against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI).

The Sea Dogs were left scratching their heads after giving up nine unanswered runs to the Reading Phillies (PHI) in a 9-4 loss. Both teams had great offensive starts, recording four runs in the second inning. The Sea Dogs caused Phillies starter Trevor May some trouble when Jon Hee hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to help Reynaldo Rodriguez score the first run. With two outs in the inning, Juan Carlos Linares doubled and cleared the loaded bases, scoring Dan Butler, Oscar Tejada, and Ryan Dent. In the bottom of that inning, Reading answered by rocking Portland starter Brock Huntzinger. Huntzinger, who was credited with the loss, gave up 3 scoring hits to start the inning, and then a two-out triple to score the tying run. Huntzinger pitched through the third before being relieved by Jeremy Kehrt. Kehrt pitched for 4.0 innings, giving up 4 runs off of 6 hits. Portland will finish up their series in Reading tonight, where the Sea Dogs will look to pick up their first win.

The Salem Red Sox started their season on the right foot with a 9-7 win on the road against the Frederick Keys (BAL). The game started as a back-and-forth offensive battle for both teams, but Salem ultimately came up with the victory off of Michael Almanzar's three-run homer in the seventh.  The Red Sox took a 3-2 lead in the third, but Salem starter Ryan Pressly couldn't keep up with the Keys' batters. Pressly pitched for 3.0 innings, but let in 5 runs off of 6 hits and 2 walks.  Keith Couch came in for Pressly in the fourth, giving up two runs, but then found his stride and held the Keys scoreless through the eighth to record the win. The Sox were down 7-4 when Travis ShawXander Bogaerts, and Christian Vazquez all came up with two-out singles. Shaw scored to make the score 7-5, and then Almanzar homered to score Bogaerts and Vazquez.  Salem recorded its final run in the eighth inning, when Jackie Bradley scored off of a Brandon Jacobs double.

With 3 runs in the first 4 innings, the Drive started hot but ultimately fell to the Lakewood BlueClaws (PHI), 6-4, at Fluor Field. Henry Ramos singled in the first inning with the bases loaded to score Jose Garcia and give the Drive the first tally of the game. The BlueClaws answered in the third, when Gauntlett Eldemire tripled off of Greenville starter Luis Diaz and then scored on a sacrifice fly. Greenville regained the lead in the bottom of the third, when Ramos picked up another RBI by driving in Blake Swihart. After reaching on a walk in the fourth inning, Jose Vinicio stole second and third before finally reaching home on a sacrifice fly by Garcia. Diaz was replaced in the fifth inning by Hunter Cervenka, who pitched for 2.0 innings giving up 1 run in the sixth. Nefi Ogando took the mound to begin the seventh, but gave up 2 in the eighth before being replaced by Matty Ott, who also gave up 2 and was charged with the loss.  

Player of the day: Michael Almanzar, whose seventh-inning homer brought Salem back from a 7-5 deficit and ultimately secured the win.