August 3, 2013 at 9:43 AM
8/3 Cup of Coffee: There was plenty of bonus baseball to go around Friday, as Pawtucket, Portland and Salem each saw their games go into extra-innings, with the ladder two taking home victories. The GCL Red Sox split a doubleheader, the DSL Red Sox kept rolling, and both Greenville and Lowell fell after surrendering a combined 17 runs.
In what turned out to be an unusual and dramatic affair, the Pawtucket Red Sox fell to the Norfolk Tides (BAL) by a score of 5-2 in 15 innings. The game was scoreless heading into the ninth inning after strong pitching performances from Tides pitcher Kevin Gausman and PawSox spot starter Clayton Mortensen. Pitchers from both bullpens contributed to keeping the game scoreless, including Jose De La Torre, who gave up only one hit and one walk in three innings in relief of Mortensen, who was pulled after the fourth.
After the Tides scored in the top of the ninth, the PawSox answered in the bottom to force extra innings. With runners on the corners and no outs, Ronald Bermudez singled home the tying run represented by Mitch Maier. However, the rally stopped there, as the PawSox recorded three straight outs with runners on first and second base.
In the 13th inning, the Tides again took the lead in the top of the frame, only to see the PawSox answer back in kind following an RBI single from Alex Hassan. Following Hassan's game-tying hit, the PawSox had runners on second and third base with no outs. Any chances of a walk-off win quickly fizzled after Mark Hamilton was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a fly ball out from Mitch Maier. Failing to cash in on these opportunities would cost the PawSox, as they were unable to respond when the Tides scored three runs in the top of the 15th inning.
The Portland Sea Dogs also took part in an extra-inning game, besting the Bowie Baysox (BAL) 9-2 in 11 innings. After losing the lead in the second inning, the Sea Dogs remained knotted with the Baysox until the top of the 11th, when they exploded for seven runs. With the bases loaded and one out, Sea Dogs center fielder Shannon Wilkerson (pictured) drove a double to center field, scoring two. Wilkerson would come around to score, as the Sea Dogs would tack on five more insurance runs for good measure. Starter Terry Doyle did not factor in the decision despite a strong performance, as he went 6 2/3 innings, surrendering only two runs.
The Salem Red Sox were the third affiliate to play into extras, topping the Lynchburg Hillcats (ATL), 5-4 in 11 innings. Entering the top of the ninth, the Red Sox were down 3-2 when a solo home run from Stefan Welch knotted the game up. Salem was not done, however, as catcher Blake Swihart would follow Welch up with a single. Swihart later came around to score on a Matthew Gedman single, giving Salem the lead.
They could not hold it, however, as Lynchburg was able to force the game into extras. Salem would not be denied, however, as the Red Sox eventually broke through in the top of the 11th. With the bases loaded and two outs, outfielder Keury De La Cruz walked, netting the game-winning run.
The Greenville Drive fell to the Savannah Sand Gnats (NYM) 9-4 on Friday. The Drive scored most of their runs early in the game, jumping out to an early 3-1 lead following a throwing error on a Jesus Loya bunt in the bottom of the fourth. The Sand Gnats took control of the game in the top of the fifth inning, scoring six runs off both Drive starter Cody Kukuk and reliever Jack McGeary. Kukuk hurled four plus innings, gave up five walks and was charged with three earned runs. He did rack up five strikeouts. At the dish, the Drive were led by leadoff man Reed Gragani, who went 3 for 4 with two runs scored.
The Lowell Spinners dropped their contest to the Batavia Muckdogs (MIA) 8-6 after giving up seven runs in the first three frames. Ultimately, the Muckdogs' early lead, which began with a three-run first inning, was too much to overcome. All seven of the runs scored in the first three innings were charged to Mario Alcantara, who gave up nine hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings. The Spinners offense was able to string together nine hits, including three from Jose Colorado, who picked up a double and a run scored. Right fielder William Jerez also had a nice night, going 2 for 4 with a double, a triple and two RBI.
The DSL Red Sox strung together a 13-hit attack to beat the DSL Royals, 8-2. The outburst was a true team effort, as six starters collected multi-hit games. The only player to pick up an extra-base hit was Franklin Guzman, who plated two runs on a double in the seventh inning. Red Sox starter Dedgar Jimenez was impressive on the mound, scattering four hits and one walk over six innings, while accumulating five strikeouts. Jimenez, who has a 1.41 ERA on the season, picked up his third win as the Red Sox moved to 34-18.
The GCL Red Sox split a pair of seven-inning contests with the GCL Twins, losing 5-3 and winning 2-1. In the win, the team was buoyed by a strong pitching performance from Luis Ortega who went five scoreless innings and gave up only three hits. Ortega was followed by Enfember Martinez and Oscar Perez, who closed the game out.
While four hits was enough to bring home the victory, it was not enough to stave off the loss. Although the Red Sox were able to net one more run in this contest, the offense was not enough. All three Red Sox runs came in the bottom of the sixth inning. Two came on a double off the bat of Jake Davies, his only hit in the game. Starter Willie Ethington lasted five innings, giving up four hits and three runs, while accumulating four strikeouts.
Player of the Day: It's not everyday two players with four hits come up big in late-inning situations, but that's exactly what happened Friday. Both Shannon Wilkerson and Matthew Gedman came up big for the Portland Sea Dogs and the Salem Red Sox, respectively, earning the co-player of the day honors.
Wilkerson, who was 4 for 5, drove in the game's winning run in the 11th inning on a two-RBI double. In addition, Wilkerson, who is batting .370 in his last 10 games, picked up two runs and a stolen base. Gedman was also 4 for 5, and drove in what looked to be the game-winning run for Salem in the top of the ninth, only to see the game forced into extras. Gedman, who hit a solo home run in the game, has three home runs in his last 10 contests. The first baseman has produced a .283/.348/.441 line this season in 44 games with Salem.
Photo Credit: Shannon Wilkerson by Kelly O'Connor.
Luke Lavoie is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukeHoCoTimes.