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August 26, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: GCL Red Sox are South Division Champions

8/26 Cup of Coffee: The GCL Red Sox won the South Division title on the last day of the regular season,  and the PawSox stayed a half game behind the IronPigs (PHI) in the Wild Card hunt despite sporting a new-look lineup. 
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Josh Fields came on to get a strikeout to end the game, as the PawSox defeated the Charlotte Knights (CWS), 4-3. The PawSox lineup looked much different after the promotions of Jose Iglesias and Che-Hsuan Lin to Boston, but after Tony Thomas (pictured) hit a two-run home run to put the PawSox up by three in the third, it seemed as though the PawSox were not going to miss a beat. After the Knights scored two runs in the fifth, the PawSox got a much needed insurance run in the sixth as Jason Repko scored on a wild pitch.

Billy Buckner was pulled after allowing a run in the eighth, but Alex Wilson came on to strike out two batters to end the threat. Wilson had to be bailed out in the ninth after he loaded the bases with three walks, but Fields got a big strikeout to end it. Buckner allowed three runs in 7.1 innings, and Thomas led the offense, going 3 for 5 with a home run.
Bryce Brentz continued to scorch the ball, but it was not enough for Portland, as they fell to the Binghamton Mets (NYM), 5-1. Brentz added three more hits on Saturday, raising his season average to .298. Xander Bogaerts added his seventh double, which was the only extra-base hit for the Sea Dogs. Drake Britton had his first poor start in over a month, allowing three runs, two earned, in only 3.2 innings of work. He walked three and struck out six. In his previous six starts, he allowed only six runs in 34.2 innings, while walking 14 and striking out 32.
The Carolina Mudcats (CLE) beat Salem 4-2, and Mudcats utility man Justin Toole played all nine positions in the nine-inning game. Toole moved from right to left across the outfield, and after playing all three outfield positions, he moved over to first base, and worked his way across the diamond again. He moved to catcher in the eighth inning and pitched the ninth inning, allowing back-to-back home runs to Drew Hedman and Sean Coyle. Miguel Celestino allowed three runs over 5.0 innings, and James Kang went 2 for 4 with a double.
Greenville lost a rain-shortened game to the Asheville Tourists (COL), 4-1. After Asheville scored a run in the top of the first off of Noe Ramirez, their shortstop gave the run back, committing an error to allow Nick Natoli to score from second. Unfortunately, that was all the damage they would do, as the Tourists pitchers shut down the Drive offense. Ramirez allowed two runs over 5.0 innings, walking one and striking out five, as his record fell to 2-7. Blake Swihart went 2 for 4 as the cleanup hitter, but was also picked off and allowed a passed ball. The game was called after the top of the ninth due to rain.
Deven Marrero reached base three times on his 22nd birthday, leading the Spinners to a 6-2 victory over the Connecticut Tigers (DET). Marrero went 2 for 3 with a walk and scored a run in the sixth after the Tigers pitcher uncorked a wild pitch. Matthew Marquis followed with a two-run home run to give the Spinners a four-run lead. The Tigers cut the lead in half with two unearned runs in the eighth, but the Spinners answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, as Marquis hit an RBI single and Dreily Guerrero added a sacrifice fly. Mike Augliera allowed one hit and struck out five in 3.0 innings, and Tyler Wilson earned the win, allowing only two unearned runs in 5.0 innings.
The GCL Red Sox are playoff bound after defeating the GCL Twins (MIN), 4-1Mario Alcantara and Cody Kukuk combined to allow only an unearned run in 8.0 innings, striking out nine, and JB Wendelken shut the door in the ninth to earn his second save. The Red Sox scored in the first inning when Kevin Mager singled home Mike Meyers, but Nick Moore was thrown out at home by his former teammate Jeremias Pineda. The Sox put two more runs on the board in the fourth when David Sopilka hit an RBI single and scored on a Deiner Lopez double, which was more than enough for the dominant pitching.

The Red Sox finish the season with a record of 34-26, edging out the Twins by one game. Austin Maddox tweeted that he will be starting the one-game playoff at noon today against the GCL Tigers (DET). 

Player of the Night: Tony Thomas hit a big two-run home run as the PawSox stayed in the playoff hunt with a win over Charlotte. With a little more than a week left in the season, the PawSox are going to need to keep winning games to keep pace with the IronPigs, even though most of their starters have recently been promoted to Boston. 

Photo Credit: Tony Thomas by Dave Letizi