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April 7, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Owens dazzles in Salem debut

4/7 Cup of Coffee: After winning the Governor's Cup last season, the PawSox have picked up right where they left off, getting good pitching and timely hitting on their way to a 3-0 start. Elsewhere on the farm, Henry Owens had a strong debut in Salem, Greenville split a doubleheader, and the Portland game was postponed because it was too cold.


Pawtucket improved to 3-0 on the season, defeating the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 7-2. PawSox starter Chris Hernandez pitched in and out of trouble for four innings, but ultimately gave up only two runs despite allowing eight baserunners.  Pawtucket got on the board in the third with an RBI double by Dan Butler, and two more runs scored on an error by the RailRider first baseman. The PawSox bullpen was able to hold the lead, as Pedro Beato and Jose De La Torre combined to throw five scoreless innings.

With the score still 3-2 in the top of the ninth, the PawSox drew three consecutive walks, and Jeremy Hazelbaker (pictured) drove them all home with a grand slam to deep left-center. Juan Carlos Linares went 2 for 3 with a walk, and Dan Butler went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. The PawSox will try to finish off the four-game sweep on Sunday.


The Sea Dogs' game was postponed due to "unplayable field conditions." Sea Dog pitcher Anthony Ranaudo was told that they could not water the field because the water would freeze. The game will be made up on July 2.


Salem let an early lead slip away, as they lost a tough game to the Frederick Keys (BAL), 3-2. Left-hander Henry Owens got the start, allowing only four baserunners over five shutout innings, while striking out five. Owens' fastball was 91-93 according to SoxProspects.com Senior Columnist Jon Meoli, who was in Frederick for the game. Owens also showed a good changeup and curveball that kept opposing hitters off balance. Owens had trouble last year with big innings, particularly in the fourth and fifth innings, but that was not the case on Saturday, as he was in control from start to finish.

Salem staked Owens to an early lead, as Sean Coyle led off the game with a home run, and they extended the lead in the third when Felix Sanchez scored on a Deven Marrero single. Salem's bats went quiet after that, and Frederick was able to get to reliever Noe Ramirez for two runs in the sixth and Nate Striz for one run in the ninth to walk off with the win. Coyle paced the offense, going 2 for 3 with a walk, while Marrero went 2 for 4 with a stolen base.


In the first game of a doubleheader, Greenville fell to the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY), 6-2. 2012 supplemental first-rounder Pat Light pitched the first two innings for the Drive, giving up two runs on four hits, while walking one and striking out three. Madison Younginer came on in relief and was able to keep the RiverDogs quiet, tossing four scoreless innings. Younginer walked the first two batters he faced in the game, but rebounded to strike out the next three. In all, he walked three and struck out seven.

The Drive tied the game in the fifth when Kendrick Perkins scored on a Jose Vinicio bunt single, and Mike Miller scored on a Mookie Betts groundout. The Drive had a chance to walk off in the bottom of the seventh, but Jayson Hernandez was thrown out trying to score from first on a Vinicio double to end the inning. In the top of the ninth, the RiverDogs pushed across four runs that proved to be the difference. Vinicio and Hernandez each had two hits to lead the offense.

The Drive got their revenge in the second game, clubbing 12 hits on their way to an 8-4 victory. The RiverDogs kept their momentum from the end of the first game going, scoring three times off Austin Maddox in the top of the first. The Drive answered right back with four runs of their own in the bottom of the inning, with a two-run double by Aneury Tavarez and a two-run single from David Chester putting them ahead. Tavarez also drove in a run in the second inning on a force out and the fourth inning on a double. He ended the game going 2 for 3 with two doubles, a walk, and four runs driven in. JB Wendelken finished the game by throwing three scoreless innings to give the Drive their second win of the season.

Player of the Night: Even though he had only one hit, Jeremy Hazelbaker did enough damage with one swing to win Player of the Night. Hazelbaker's grand slam turned a one-run lead into a five-run lead in the ninth and sealed the win for the PawSox. Hazelbaker has been playing exclusively left field for the PawSox, so his playing time will be up in the air if Jackie Bradley Jr. gets sent down. If the Red Sox have Bradley play his natural position of center, then Hazelbaker will not likely see his playing time drop off significantly

Photo credit: Jeremy Hazelbaker by Kelly O'Connor

Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.