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June 8, 2012 at 7:28 AM

Cup of Coffee: Pitching, Kroeger keep Pawtucket rolling

6/8 Cup of Coffee: The Pawtucket bullpen continued to shine in a come-from-behind victory, extending the PawSox winning streak to five games, while Greenville also got solid pitching in its victory over Rome. Portland lost despite a 13-hit effort, and the DSL Red Sox offense struggled in their defeat. Salem's game against Winston-Salem was called in the fifth inning due to darkness with the score tied 5-5.

After falling behind early, Pawtucket rallied to beat the Indianapolis Indians (PIT) 5-3. The Indians were able to score single runs off of starter Brandon Duckworth in the second, third and fifth innings, but Duckworth was able to keep the PawSox in the game. Down 3-0 in the fifth, the Pawtucket offense began to heat up. Josh Kroeger started the rally with a one-out double, scoring on a single up the middle by Alex Hassan. Nate Spears and Mike Rivera followed with singles to load the bases, and Hassan came in to score on a Jonathan Hee ground ball to bring the PawSox within one. After Duckworth pitched a quick one-two-three top of the sixth, the offense got back to work in the bottom of the inning. Lars Anderson walked, and Mauro Gomez was hit by a pitch, bringing up Kroeger, who hit a three-run blast to right field to put Pawtucket up for good. Duckworth was now in line for the victory after a solid outing, pitching 6.0 innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits, walking 2 and striking out 8. He turned the ball over the bullpen, which continued its run of dominance. Clayton Mortensen induced a double play in both the seventh and eighth innings in order to pitch around a pair of walks and a single finishing with 2.0 scoreless innings. He gave away to Mark Melancon, who tossed a perfect ninth to record his 11th save and lower his ERA to 0.83. Kroeger was the offensive star, finishing 2 for 4 with 3 RBI. Rivera also had a two-hit night. Pawtucket will attempt to complete a four game sweep of the Indians tonight at McCoy with Daniel Bard on the mound. 

Reynaldo Rodriguez (Kelly O'Connor)
Portland's pitching struggled with wildness in a back-and-forth 7-5 loss to the Bowie BaySox (BAL). Portland scored first, taking a 1-0 lead in the third inning when a Shannon Wilkerson single scored Zach Gentile. The Sea Dogs extended their lead in the fourth when Reynaldo Rodriguez led off with a double, and came around to score on another double by Derrik Gibson. After four shutout innings, Portland starter Chris Balcom-Miller lost his control in the fifth. After striking out the leadoff batter, Balcom-Miller hit a batter, gave up a single, a walk and a sacrifice fly to put Bowie on the board. Two more walks, the last with the bases loaded, tied the game at 2-2 and ended the night for Balcom-Miller, as he was relieved by Chorye Spoone. Balcom-Miller's final line showed 2 runs on 2 hits in 4.2 innings pitched, striking out 5 and walking 6. Spoone induced a bases loaded fly ball to end the fifth and keep the game tied. Portland rallied to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the inning, as Nick Natoli doubled and scored on a single by Juan Carlos Linares. However, the Sea Dogs missed a good chance to break the game open. Rodriguez doubled to move Linares to third, and Oscar Tejeda was intentionally walked, loading the bases with two outs. Bowie starter Zach Clark was able to pitch out of the jam, getting Matt Spring to fly out to end the inning. The BaySox took advantage of the base on balls again in the sixth, as top prospect Manny Machado led off the inning with a walk and came in to score to knot the game at 3. A single and a pair of walks by Spoone loaded the bases, but a key inning ending strikeout kept it tied up. A Jeremy Hazelbaker double scored Gentile to put Portland back in the lead in the bottom of the inning, but that was the last time the Sea Dogs would lead. Bowie exploded for four runs in the seventh off of Spoone and Caleb Clay, putting the BaySox up 7-4. Portland had a final rally in the eighth, but fell short, scoring one run. Rodriguez the 13-hit performance by the Portland offense, going 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles. Natoli went 2 for 4 with a double, and Linares finished 2 for 5 with an RBI.

The elements did not cooperate in a battle for first place between Salem and the Winson-Salem Dash (CWS). The teams waited through a 55-minute rain delay in the third inning and play resumed at around 9:00, only to have the game suspend when the power went out about 45 minutes later with the score tied 5-5. The game was officially called and will not be made up, a bad break for Salem as they trail Winston-Salem by only a half-game in the standings. Jackie Bradley, Jr. was 2 for 3 with a double, raising his average to .388. Starter Ryan Pressly allowed 3 runs (1 earned) on  3 hits in 3.0 innings walking 2 and striking out 3. Charle Rosario scattered 3 hits in 2.0 shutout innings, striking out 2. As the game was official, statistics for the meeting will count. 

Greenville got out to an early lead and held on for a 5-2 victory over the Rome Braves (ATL). In the top of the first, back-to-back doubles by Keury De La Cruz and Garin Cecchini were followed by a David Renfroe RBI single, putting the Drive up 2-0. Greenville extended its lead in the third, as Renfroe singled and scored on a double by Drew Turocy, who was driven home by a Blake Swihart single. Jose Vinicio led off the fourth with a solo home run, giving the Drive a 5-0 advantage. Starting pitcher Scott Swinson had another good outing, allowing only 1 run on 8 hits in 6.0 innings, striking out 3 without walking a batter. Nefi Ogando worked 2.0 innings out of the bullpen, giving up 1 run on 2 hits, walking 2 and striking out 1, and Matty Ott pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save. Cecchini and Turocy both went 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles to lead the Greenville offense. 

The DSL Red Sox could not get going on offense, falling 5-1 to the DSL Rangers. Red Sox starter Luis Ortega settled down after giving up a run in the first, only allowing the single run in his 3.0 innings of work, giving up 2 hits and walk while striking out 3. Carlos Garcia followed Ortega, giving up 4 runs on 6 hits. Carlos Pinales allowed only 1 hit in his 3.0 scoreless innings of work, while striking out 2. The Red Sox managed only 4 hits, 2 of which belonged to Alixon Suarez. Suarez also walked and was hit by a pitch, putting him on base 4 times on the day.

Player of the Night: Reynaldo Rodriguez had a big game in a losing effort by the Sea Dogs, gathering two doubles as part of his 4-for-5 effort. Rodriguez leads the Eastern League in both doubles with 19 and extra base hits with 32.