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April 29, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Heller leads Salem in slugfest

4/29 Cup of Coffee: All three teams in action on Monday night came away with victories. Salem pounded 12 hits, including six for extra bases in its win, Portland's middle infielders were on base eight times, and Pawtucket prevailed in the 11th inning.


Pawtucket eventually found itself on the winning end of a pitcher's duel, beating the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (PHI) 4-2 in 11 innings. Allen Webster and former PawSox lefty Greg Smith locked horns, allowing just one run apiece. Webster went six innings, giving up five hits and walking two while striking out one. Chris Resop tossed a scoreless seventh, but Drake Britton struggled, allowing a run on five hits, walking two, and hitting a batter in 1 2/3 innings. Tommy Layne earned the win, throwing 2 1/3 hitless frames.

Knotted at two in the 11th, Brock Holt led off with a single and was bunted over to second by Ryan Roberts. After Daniel Nava was given an intentional pass, Bryce Brentz walked to load the bases. With two outs, Brandon Snyder ripped a two-run single to put Pawtucket on top. Nava was on base three times, going 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. Holt also had two hits, and Brentz delivered a solo home run in the third.


The Portland middle infield led the way in its 8-6 win over the Reading Fightin Phils (PHI). Deven Marrero and the scorching-hot Mookie Betts both went 1 for 2 with three walks. Marrero added an RBI, while Betts' three runs scored gives him 27 in April - the highest monthly total for a Sea Dogs player since Chih-Hsien Chiang scored 27 in July 2011. Sean Coyle, who has not played the field since getting hit by a pitch on April 21, started as the designated hitter but left the game with an undisclosed injury after just one at-bat.

On the mound, Mike McCarthy delivered his strongest start of the year, firing six scoreless innings. The righty allowed only three hits and struck out two without issuing a walk to earn his first win of 2014. Kyle Kraus, promoted from Salem on Sunday, struggled in his first Sea Dogs appearance of the year as he gave up four runs on seven hits in only 1 2/3. Aaron Kurcz got credit for the save, despite allowing two runs in only 1 1/3 innings.


Salem built up an early 9-2 lead and hung on to outlast the Winston-Salem Dash (CWS), 11-8. Corey Littrell was solid, allowing three runs on three hits in six innings of work, striking out seven while walking only two. The bullpen struggled, as the Dash touched Kyle Stroup for five runs (three earned in two innings). Kyle Martin followed, and while no runs were credited against him, both runners he inherited came in to score.

Kevin Heller (pictured, above) was at the center of the offensive outburst. The left fielder was 3 for 3 with a home run, double, walk, and three RBI. Jonathan Roof hit a three-run home run as part of a 3-for-5 night, and Tim Roberson drove in a pair while going 2 for 5.


Player of the Day: Kevin Heller, the Red Sox final pick in the 2012 draft out of Amherst College, is putting together a strong start to 2014 for Salem. After his big performance on Monday, his slash line stands at .313/.450/.563, good for a 1.013 OPS that places him third in the Carolina League.

Photo Credit: Kevin Heller by Kelly O'Connor