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September 6, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Cup of Coffee: Betts scores game winner in 10th as Salem advances

9/6 Cup of Coffee: It was a successful night of playoff baseball. Pawtucket earned a win on the road to pull even in the Governors Cup semi-finals. Meanwhile, Salem completed a sweep with its second straight extra-inning win and heads to the Mills Cup final.


Pawtucket never trailed in its 7-2 win over the Rochester Red Wings (MIN) at Frontier Field. The win ties the semi-final series even at one game apiece as Pawtucket attempts to repeat as Governors Cup champions. Rehabbing right-hander Clay Buchholz got the start for the PawSox and was mostly sharp, getting through three scoreless before the Red Wings touched him for two in the fourth. In all, he allowed two runs on four hits in 3 2/3, striking out five and walking just two.

After grabbing a 2-0 lead in the third, Pawtucket opened up the game with a three-run fourth. Jeremy Hazelbaker led off the inning by reaching on a two-base error. He advanced to third on a Justin Henry ground out and trotted home on a Christian Vazquez sacrifice fly. With two outs and the bases empty, the PawSox staged another rally. Heiker Meneses singled, followed by Jackie Bradley, Jr. (pictured) who ripped a double down the right-field line. Unfortunately for Pawtucket, the ball bounced into the stands, and Meneses was held at third. However, Brock Holt turned that into a non-issue, scoring both Meneses and Bradley on a single to center.

The Red Wings grabbed two in the bottom of the fourth, but the PawSox offense got both runs back in the fifth. The rally again started with a Rochester miscue. This time, Mark Hamilton reached and advanced to second on a botched 3-1 transfer. Bryce Brentz doubled home Hamilton, then came home to score on a Vazquez single.

Meanwhile, the Pawtucket bullpen held the Red Wings totally silent, firing 5 1/3 shutout innings. Highlights were Alex Wilson, who pitched a one-two-three fifth inning as he continues to rehab and Chris Martin, who struck out three in two perfect frames. Martin was credited with the win for his effort.

Bradley led the PawSox offense, going 2 for 4 with the double, a walk, and two runs scored. Bradley is 4 for 8 through the first two games of the series. Meneses and Holt had two hits apiece in the victory.

With the best-of-five series even at one, the PawSox will head back to the friendly environs of McCoy Stadium for the two games, before heading back to Rochester for a fifth game if necessary.


Salem wrapped up the Carolina League semi-finals with a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX) in 10 innings. It was the second straight extra-inning victory for the Sox, who now head to the Mills Cup final.

The Pelicans opened up a 3-0 lead in the second against Brian Johnson. Johnson struggled, allowing eight baserunners in four innings, but escaped allowing only the three runs. In all, he gave up the three (two earned) on six hits, with two strikeouts and two walks.

Salem evened the game up in the top of the fifth. After a Matt Gedman single and David Chester walk, Nick Natoli grounded what might have been an inning-ending double play to the shortstop. However, Salem shortstop Hanser Alberto could not handle the grounder, a miscue that would loom large. With the bases loaded, Myrtle Beach starter Alex Gonzalez uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Chester with Salem's first run, as the trailing runners moved to second and third. Gonzalez was able to retire Matty Johnson, but Henry Ramos came through with a crucial two-run base hit to the right side, tying the game at three.

From there, it was deja vu, as the teams stayed matched all the way through regulation. Robby Scott allowed one hit in his two scoreless innings, and Matty Ott struck out one in two perfect frames. After Mathew Price retired the Pelicans in the ninth, the game went into extra innings for the second straight day.

Once again, Salem broke through in the 10th. Mookie Betts, held hitless to that point, led off the inning with a double. He then advanced to third on a wild pitch and came in to score on a Gedman sacrifice fly. In the bottom of the 10th, Price slammed the door, striking out the first two batters he faced before inducing a Jake Skole fly out to left fielder Keury De La Cruz that sealed the series.

Salem will go on to play the Potomac Nationals (WAS) in the Mills Cup final. The best-of-five series opens with two games at Potomac's Pfitzner Stadium on Saturday.


Player of the Day: Jackie Bradley, Jr. was Pawtucket's offensive star in its series-tying victory and has been their leader at the plate in both games this series. After going 2 for 4 with a double, he is now 4 for 8 with two runs, a double and a walk as the series is knotted at one apiece.

Photo Credit: Jackie Bradley, Jr. by Kelly O'Connor

James Dunne is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.