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September 11, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: PawSox win a thriller, Salem wins Mills Cup


9/11 Cup of Coffee: It was a memorable night on the farm, as the Salem Red Sox won the Mills Cup, completing the sweep of the Potomac Nationals (WAS). It was the first time Salem has won the Carolina League championship since 2001, when it was an affiliate of the Rockies, and it was the first time a Red Sox affiliate won a High A league title since the Winston-Salem Red Sox won in 1973. Salem won its last 11 games of the season, including a perfect 5-0 record in the postseason. 

In Durham, the PawSox won a classic playoff game, scoring two late runs to earn a thrilling one-run victory. Pawtucket now has a 1-0 series lead as it looks to defend the Governors' Cup. 

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In a game that had a little bit of everything, the PawSox did just enough, as they beat the Durham Bulls (TB), 2-1. It was a battle of former first-round picks on the mound, with Anthony Ranaudo going toe-to-toe with Jake Odorizzi. Ranaudo allowed a run in the second inning, but was in command for most of the game. He allowed only one run on four hits in six innings, walking one and striking out four. Unfortunately for Ranaudo, Odorizzi was even better, tossing seven shutout innings, while striking out seven. 

With Ranaudo on the hook, the Pawtucket bats were able to rally in the eighth. Justin Henry singled, Heiker Meneses was hit by a pitch, and both runners advanced on Jonathan Diaz's sacrifice bunt. With the game on the line, Brock Holt laced a two-run single off the second baseman's glove, giving the PawSox their first lead of the game. 

The Bulls did not go down quietly, as they had runners at second and third with two outs in the eighth. Ryan Rowland-Smith got the batter to hit a fly ball to left field, where Jeremy Hazelbaker made a sliding catch in foul territory to end the threat. In the ninth, Anthony Carter loaded the bases with only one out, but got a pop out and a fly out to end the game. 

Holt, Hazelbaker, and Henry all had two hits to lead the PawSox. Game Two is tonight, with Steven Wright taking the hill. The series shifts to Pawtucket on Friday. 

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The Salem Red Sox were able to celebrate in front of the home crowd, as they beat Potomac 6-4 to win the Mills Cup. Sean Coyle put the Red Sox on the board with a two-run double in the second, and after the Nationals got a run in the third, Salem was able to open the game up in the fourth. With the bases loaded, Matty Johnson hit a sacrifice fly that advanced all three runners, and then Coyle hit another two-run double to extend the lead. Henry Ramos drove in Coyle with a double of his own, and just like that Salem was ahead 6-1. 

William Cuevas made the lead hold up, allowing three runs, two earned, in six innings. Mike McCarthy allowed a run on two hits in the seventh, but Mathew Price shut down the Nationals over the final two innings, earning the save. 

Coyle went 2 for 3 with two doubles and four runs driven in, and he was named the most valuable player of the series. He hit .417 in the series, slightly edging Mookie Betts's .412 average. Coyle's performance was particularly impressive, considering he had not appeared in a game since August 26, and was activated right before the first game of the finals. 

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Player of the Day: Sean Coyle drove in four runs and was named MVP of the series, even though nobody thought he would be playing until a few hours before the first game. Coyle was the designated hitter for Salem, driving in seven runs in three games, and he helped support a pitching staff that stepped up when it mattered most. Congratulations to Sean and everyone else in Salem, as this was a fun team to follow, especially down the stretch. 

Photo Credit: Sean Coyle by Kelly O'Connor

Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.

 
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