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April 12, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Portland and Greenville bats explode in victories

4/12 Cup of Coffee: Friday night was filled with impressive performances throughout the organization, with Portland and Greenville combining to score 24 runs, Pat Light and Joe Gunkel overpowering the Intimidators, and Brock Holt (pictured) trying to single-handedly carry the PawSox. Manuel Margot continued his power surge for the Drive, and he now leads the entire Boston organization in home runs. 


Despite a four-hit performance from Brock Holt, the PawSox fell to the Buffalo Bisons (TOR), 7-4. Jeremy Kehrt was hit hard, surrendering seven runs on 10 hits in five innings of work. Rich Hill and Brayan Villarreal combined to throw three scoreless innings of relief, but the damage had already been done.

Holt had one of the best games of his career, going 4 for 5 with a double and a home run out of the leadoff spot. Garin Cecchini collected two more hits to raise his average to .345, and Justin Henry added a triple and a walk. 


Even with Mookie Betts getting the day off, the Sea Dogs clubbed 14 hits en route to an 11-2 victory over the New Britain Rock Cats (MIN). The Sea Dogs jumped out to an early lead, scoring five times in the bottom of the first. Henry Ramos started off the scoring with a double, Blake Swihart added a run-scoring single, and Stefan Welch capped off the inning with a two-run single. Ramos and Welch each went 2 for 4, while Deven Marrero continued his hot start, going 3 for 5 with a double. After not hitting any extra-base hits in 72 at-bats with Portland last season, Marrero already has four in 27 at-bats this season. 

That was more than enough offense for Mickey Pena, who tossed five strong innings, allowing one run on five hits, while striking out three. Robby Scott pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, and Miguel Celestino allowed a solo home run, but struck out three in 1 1/3 innings to close out the victory. 


The Salem bullpen was not able to hold the lead, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans escaped with a 7-5 victory. Salem jumped out to a three-run lead in the second, after Kevin Heller roped a two-run triple and came around to score on an error. Justin Haley allowed two runs in the fourth, but he left after five innings with Salem still clinging to a one run lead.

Simon Mercedes, who has turned heads with his triple-digit fastball this spring, imploded in his second inning of work. After getting two groundouts and a strikeout in his first inning, the Pelicans got to Mercedes for five runs in the seventh, with Joey Gallo's two-run home run doing the most damage. Salem came back in the ninth with two runs, but it was not enough. Heller went 2 for 3 with a double, triple, and a walk, and Ryan Dent and Matthew Gedman each contributed two hits as well. 


Greenville's offense managed to one-up Portland's, as the Drive pummeled the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS), 13-2. The Drive scored early and often, as every starter got at least one hit. Kevin Mager went 4 for 4 with a walk, Carlos Asuaje went 2 for 3 with a triple and a walk, Jantzen Witte went 2 for 3 with a double and two walks, Tzu-Wei Lin went 2 for 5 with a double, his first extra-base hit of the season, and Manuel Margot slugged his third home run as part of a 2 for 4 day at the plate. Margot was a popular pick to breakout this season and he has not disappointed, batting .296/.345/.667 in 27 at-bats. 

Pitching with a big lead, Pat Light cruised through the Kannapolis lineup. Light pitched six innings allowing two runs on five hits, walking none and striking out five. Light has yet to walk a batter while racking up 15 strikeouts in 12 innings. Joe Gunkel was even more impressive out of the bullpen, as he did not allow a baserunner in his three innings, striking out seven. Gunkel ended the game in style, striking out the final five batters he faced. 


Player of the Day: On a night with many worthy candidates, Brock Holt gets the nod for his four-hit performance. Holt set the tone with a leadoff home run, and his strong night bumped his numbers up to  a ridiculous .481/.548/.704 on the season. Holt already has three games with at least three hits, while playing five games at shortstop, one at second base, and one at third base. 

Photo Credit: Brock Holt by Kelly O'Connor