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August 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: GCL Sox advancing to finals highlights slew of exciting games

8/27 Cup of Coffee: The GCL Red Sox advanced to the GCL Championship Series, the PawSox jumped past the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI) in the Wild Card standings, and the Drive got another walk-off win. 
The PawSox moved into sole possession of the Wild Card spot with a 5-4 win over the Charlotte Knights (CWS). Nate Spears led off the fourth inning with a triple and came around to score on a Ryan Kalish sacrifice fly. Newly acquired Ivan De Jesus singled in the sixth and scored on a Tony Thomas single to put the PawSox up by two. The Knights came back to score two in the sixth and one in the seventh to take the lead. Chris Hernandez allowed the two runs in the sixth, while Daniel Bard allowed one run on two hits in the seventh.

De Jesus, Kalish, and Thomas hit three straight singles in the eighth to tie the game, and Danny Valencia delivered a clutch two-run single to put the PawSox back on top. In the ninth, the Knights plated one run and had the tying run at second when Greg Golson drilled a single to left field. The runner on second was trying to score, but Thomas gunned him down to end the game. De Jesus went 2 for 3 with a walk in his PawSox debut, while Thomas and Valencia had two hits apiece.
Jeremy Hazelbaker's (pictured) two home runs were not enough, as the Sea Dogs fell to the Binghamton Mets (NYM) 5-3 in 10 innings. Hazelbaker hit a solo home run in the first and a two-run home run in the third, but the Mets were able to keep pace, scoring three runs of their own. Jeremy Kehrt allowed 10 hits over his 5.0 innings of work, but was able to limit the damage to only the three runs. The Portland bullpen did not allow an earned run the rest of the game, but Michael Olmsted allowed two unearned runs in the tenth thanks to two errors, one of which was his. Bryce Brentz went 2 for 4 with a double to push his average to an even .300, and Xander Bogaerts went 1 for 4 with a stolen base.
Matt Barnes had another rocky start, but Salem used an eight-run sixth to defeat the Carolina Mudcats (CLE), 9-5. Barnes, who has now thrown 116.2 innings this season, allowed four runs on six hits in 4.0 innings, walking two and striking out three. He was on the hook for the loss, but Salem erupted to score eight runs on five hits and three walks in the sixth. Sean Coyle went 3 for 5, Drew Hedman went 2 for 4 with a walk, and Brandon Jacobs went 2 for 4 with a double to lead the Salem offense.
The Drive had another walk-off win, as Boss Moanaroa singled home Nick Natoli to beat the Tourists (COL), 5-4. Down 4-2 in the eighth, Henry Ramos singled and came in to score on a Drew Turocy home run to tie the game. After Asheville left the go-ahead run at third in the top of the ninth, Moanaroa singled home Natoli, who was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, to win the game. Moanaroa, Turocy, Ramos, and Jordan Weems all had two hits, and Garin Cecchini went 1 for 3 with two walks and a double, and also added his 46th stolen base of the season.
Pat Light was solid, but the Spinners offense could not do any damage, falling to the Connecticut Tigers (DET) 2-1 in 10 innings. Light allowed two hits in 3.0 innings, walking none and striking out two. The Spinners scored a run in the first on a Deven Marrero single, but that was all they would get. The Tigers tied the game in the fifth, and took the lead in the tenth on a solo home run that proved to be the game winner. The Spinners went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and recorded only four hits in the game.
The GCL Red Sox advanced to the finals after defeating the GCL Tigers (DET) 1-0 in 10 innings in a thrilling one-game playoff. With the game scoreless in the fourth, Jose Colorado fielded a ground ball to center and fired a bullet to catcher David Sopilka to cut down the Tigers runner at home. The Tigers threatened again in the bottom of the ninth, but Robby Scott got two fly outs to leave the winning run in scoring position.

In the tenth, the Red Sox loaded the bases with two walks and a single, and Deiner Lopez drew a bases-loaded walk to push the go-ahead run across. Scott came back out for the tenth, and after allowing the tying run to reach third, he struck out the final batter to send the Red Sox to the finals. Austin Maddox started, and allowed two hits and struck out two in 3.0 solid innings. Ellis Jimenez pitched 4.1 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit to keep the Tigers off the board.

The Red Sox will play a best of three series against the GCL Pirates (PIT) for the GCL Championship. The Red Sox have not won a GCL Championship since 2006, when they were led by Felix Doubront and Kalish. 
Player of the Night: Jeremy Hazelbaker hit his 18th and 19th home runs of the season, which is a new career high. Hazelbaker has really turned his season around in the second half, hitting .313 with a .953 OPS in 163 at-bats since the All-Star break. He cut his strikeout rate from 29 percent in the first half to 21 percent in the second half, while also increasing his power. He has logged almost 900 at-bats in Double-A over the past two seasons, so he is in line to start 2013 in Triple-A.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Hazelbaker by Kelly O'Connor