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May 1, 2012 at 6:52 AM

Cup of Coffee: Owens and Castillo toss combined three-hitter

5/1 Cup of Coffee: With all four affiliates on the road, Pawtucket and Greenville closed out April in the win column, while Portland and Salem fell on Monday night.

Henry Owens (Kelly O'Connor)
In a back and forth evening, Pawtucket scored two in the ninth to complete a 6-4 victory over the Columbus Clippers (CLE), avoiding the sweep in Columbus. The PawSox jumped out to a 1-0 lead as Mauro Gomez led off the top of second inning with a solo shot to left-center, his number 8 on the season for Gomez. The Clippers took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the inning on a pair of home runs off of starter Brandon Duckworth, but Pawtucket responded quickly with a pair in the top of the third. Che-Hsuan Lin got the rally started with a lead off walk, and went first to third on a Tony Thomas single to right. With Pedro Ciriaco at the plate, Columbus starter Chris Seddon threw a wild pitch, scoring Lin and sending Thomas to second. Two pitches later, Ciriaco singled to center, scoring Thomas to tie the game up at 3-3. Columbuts grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the third on Matt LaPorta's second solo home run of the evening. In the sixth, the PawSox tied it back up, as Ciriaco led off the inning with a double, moved up to third on a Jose Iglesias single, and came in to score on a Ryan Lavarnway sacrifice fly. With the bullpen holding the Clippers at bay, Pawtucket took the lead in the top of the ninth. Back-to-back doubles by Josh Kroeger and Daniel Nava gave the PawSox a 5-4 advantage, and Lin singled to score Nava, adding the insurance run. Ciriaco was the big offensive performer for Pawtucket, going 3 for 5 with a double, run scored, and an RBI. Lin and Iglesias also added a pair of hits. For Iglesias, the two-hit night ended a 2 for 27 slump. Duckworth tossed 5.0 innings, allowing 4 runs on 6 hits, including the 3 home runs. He walked 3 and struck out 5. Justin Thomas added 1.2 innings of hitless relief, striking out 2, and Mark Melancon closed out the seventh by getting a ground out from the only batter he faced. Garrett Mock got the win, pitching the last 2.0 innings, allowing a hit and a walk, striking out 2.

Portland gave up three runs in the ninth to fall to the Trenton Thunder (NYY), 6-3. Trenton took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first off of Sea Dogs starter Billy Butler. Portland tied the game up in the fifth when an Oscar Tejeda double to left scored Juan Carlos Linares. Trenton responded with a run to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth, but Buckner avoided a much bigger inning, stranding the bases loaded. Buckner finished with 5.0 innings, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits, striking out 5, walking 1 and hitting a batter. Portland tied it back up in the top of the sixth, as Kolbrin Vitek singled, driving in Ryan Dent. Reliever Aaron Kurcz came on for the sixth inning, allowing an unearned run that gave the Thunder a 3-2 lead. However, for the second consecutive inning, the Thunder stranded the bases loaded, Will Latimer pitched 2.0 scoreless innings of relief, allowing 1 hit and striking out 2, giving the Sea Dogs the opportunity to tie the game in the eighth on Kolbrin Vitek's first home run of the season. Unfortunately for Portland, Trenton hit Eammon Portice hard in the ninth, scoring 3 runs on 4 hits, included 2 home runs, to seal the 6-3 victory. Vitek went 2 for 4 with a home run, and a pair of RBI. Linares also went 2 for 4, finishing April with a .362/.463/.580 slash line.

Salem's five-game winning streak came to an end, as they began their road trip with an 8-3 loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC). Starting pitcher Drake Britton, who appeared to turn the corner in his previous start, had a rough night as he was unable to find his control. Britton lasted only 2.0 innings, allowing 4 runs on 2 hits, 6 walks, and a hit batsman. He was pulled after beginning the third inning with three consecutive walks. Pete Ruiz came on in relief, but was unable to strand the runners Britton left for him, allowing all three inherited runners to score. Ruiz also gave up 2 runs own in an inning of work. Jeremiah Bayer followed with 3.1 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 5 hits. He struck out 6 and did not walk a batter. Michael Olmsted finished off the night for Salem, throwing 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and a walk, striking out 2. Jackie Bradley, Jr. went 1 for 5 to finish April batting.359/.465/.474. He has now reached base in 16 consecutive games. Brandon Jacobs and Xander Bogaerts both had 2 for 5 nights in the defeat.

Impressive pitching was the story for Greenville, as the Drive shut down the Lakewood Blue Claws (PHI) 7-0. Henry Owens and Yeiper Castillo combined on the three-hit shutout to close the road trip and end a four game losing streak. Owens had a frustrating first four professional appearances marked with high strikeout rates but more than a run per inning. However, the 2011 supplemental first round pick put things together last night in Lakewood, throwing 4.0 strong, allowing only 1 hit and 3 walks, striking out 7. Perhaps most importantly, Owens appeared to get stronger as the evening progressed. In previous appearances, stamina appeared to be an issue, but last night he finished his evening by striking out the side in the fourth. Castillo piggybacked and was equally impressive, throwing 5.0 scoreless innings, allowing 2 hits, striking out 7 of his own while walking 1 and hitting a batter to pick up the win. The Greenville offense gave Owens and Castillo more support than they needed, scoring 2 in the first and never looking back, as every Drive player reached base on the evening. Keury de la Cruz remained hot. He went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI, a run scored, and a stolen base, and is now 9 for 17 in his last four games. The 20-year-old finishes April .321/.389/.543. Garin Cecchini, Jose Vinicio and Boss Moanaroa also had two-hit nights, while Bryan Johns added three walks.

Player of the night: The nod goes to Henry Owens in his breakout performance, with an honorable mention to Yeiper Castillo. Coming in to the night, Owens had allowed 32 baserunners in 14.3 innings pitched, but allowed only 4, while striking out 7. Owens' strikeout rate remains excellent - he has punched out one out of every 2.55 batters he faced, just a tick below the rate of recently promoted Matt Barnes (once every 2.31 batters).