April 7, 2014 at 8:00 AM
4/7 Cup of Coffee: The PawSox and Sea Dogs both lost close games, while Salem's pitching staff, led by Corey Littrell (pictured), dominated the Pelicans. After a strong start, Teddy Stankiewicz faded towards the end of his outing, and the Drive fell to the Intimidators despite some impressive offensive performances.
Pawtucket's late rally fell just short, as they fell to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI), 5-4. Christian Vazquez and Garin Cecchini continued their hot starts to the season, with Vazquez going 2 for 4 with a double and Cecchini going 1 for 3 with a walk. Heiker Meneses was the only other player to record multiple hits, as he went 2 for 3 with a walk.
Jeremy Kehrt went the first five innings allowing three runs, two earned, while walking two and striking out four. He left with the score tied at three, but Tommy Layne allowed a two-run home run in the top of the sixth that proved to be the difference. Alex Hassan doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth and came around to score, but Cecchini grounded out with the tying run on base to end the threat.
The Reading Fightin Phils (PHI) jumped out to an early lead and never let it go, topping the Sea Dogs, 4-3. The Fightin Phils got to starter Mike Augliera for four runs in the second, with a three-run home run accounting for most of the damage. Augliera settled down after that, and ended up pitching six innings allowing just the four runs. Robby Scott came on in relief and tossed two scoreless innings.
Stefan Welch led the offense, going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Mookie Betts and Deven Marrero have hit safely in every game this season, and each went 1 for 4 on Sunday.
Salem is now 4-0 after defeating the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX), 3-0. The pitching staff combined to strike out 14 batters, led by Corey Littrell, who struck out eight over 4 2/3 innings. Simon Mercedes followed him and struck out four and allowed only two hits in his 3 1/3 innings. Madison Younginer pitched a scoreless ninth with two punchouts to earn the save.
Matty Johnson added two hits, while Mario Martinez and Matthew Gedman each slugged a double. Salem scored its first run on a wild pitch and its final run on a bases-loaded walk, taking advantage of the Pelicans' wildness.
Teddy Stankiewicz struggled in his 2014 debut, as the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS) beat the Drive, 8-5. Stankiewicz was nearly flawless through the first four innings, with a solo home run in the fourth being the only blemish, but the wheels fell off in the fifth. After an error by Wendell Rijo allowed one run to score, Stankiewicz surrendered a three-run home run that chased him from the game. In all, he allowed five runs, four earned, in four innings, walking one and failing to record a strikeout.
The Drive had 13 hits, but only five runs to show for it. Tim Roberson went 3 for 5 with a home run, Kevin Mager went 2 for 4 with a home run and a walk, and Manuel Margot went 2 for 4 with a double. The Drive were only 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position, and left nine men on base
Player of the Day: After pitching well with Lowell last summer, 2013 fifth-round pick Corey Littrell skipped Greenville and went right to Salem. Littrell showed he was ready for this aggressive placement, striking out eight over 4 2/3 scoreless innings. The left-hander can throw four pitches for strikes and has good pitchability, making him a candidate to rise quickly through the system.
Photo Credit: Corey Littrell by Kelly O'Connor