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April 14, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Rijo hits first professional home run in Greenville win

4/14 Cup of Coffee: Pawtucket and Greenville each got wins in extra-innings, with some interesting bullpen performances in each game. Mookie Betts did his best to lead the Sea Dogs, Brian Johnson had his second straight tough outing, and Wendell Rijo (pictured) hit his first professional home run. 


It took 12 innings, but the PawSox escaped with a 7-5 victory over the Buffalo Bisons (TOR). Allen Webster got the start, and was shaky throughout his five innings. He walked four while striking out only one and surrendering four runs. He did manage to keep the ball on the ground, recording 12 groundouts compared to only three flyouts. The PawSox stayed in the game thanks to some timely hitting, with Mike McCoy delivering a three-run double to tie the game in the fourth. 

The PawSox had a chance to win it in the ninth, but Brayan Villarreal walked the bases loaded, putting the tying run at third base with only one out. Chris Resop came in and got a groundout, but the run scored and the game went to extras. In the twelfth, a Christian Vazquez sacrifice fly put the PawSox back on top, and then Heiker Meneses hit an RBI double to extend the lead. Meneses went 3 for 6, and Ryan Lavarnway added two hits as the first baseman. 

Justin Henry, an infielder by trade, earned the save while tossing a perfect bottom of the 12th inning. The utility man can now add "closer" to his résumé. 


The Sea Dogs were held to five hits as they were doubled up by the New Britain Rock Cats (MIN), 6-3. Mike McCarthy allowed three runs in five innings, and Nate Reed allowed three runs in two innings as they could not slow down New Britain's offense. Noe Ramirez had a nice bounce-back performance, striking out two and allowing only one baserunner in two scoreless innings of relief. 

Mookie Betts was on base two more times on Sunday, going 1 for 3 with a walk, a double, and a stolen base. After his double, he swiped third base, and the catcher's throw went into left field allowing Betts to score. On a day when only three Sea Dogs were able to collect a hit, Betts showed that he can create offense by himself. Derrik Gibson and Shannon Wilkerson were the only other Sea Dogs to get into the hit column, with Gibson going 3 for 3 with a double. 


It was a rough day for Salem, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX) easily beat the Red Sox, 9-5. After a promising first start, Brian Johnson has taken two steps back. On Sunday he was touched for six runs, five earned, in only four innings, walking three and striking out five. Johnson has 20 strikeouts in only 13 2/3 innings this season, but he has been far too hittable, and he is currently sporting a 7.24 ERA. 

Kevin Heller led the offense going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk, and David Chester went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. 


In a 14-inning marathon, the Drive walked off with a 5-4 win over the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS)Mario Alcantara was wild, walking four in four innings while allowing three runs. He left with the lead, as the Drive put four runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth with Kevin Mager and Wendell Rijo each slugging home runs. The Intimidators got a solo home run in the top of the eighth to tie the game, and it went in to extra innings.

Both teams traded zeroes until the 14th inning, when Carlos Asuaje singled with the bases loaded to lead the Drive to the series sweep. Myles Smith and Raynel Velette combined to throw nine innings of scoreless relief to keep the Drive in the game. Smith allowed only one hit (a solo home run) in his five innings of work, while striking out five. Rijo went 2 for 4 with a walk and the home run to raise his average to .321. 


Player of the Day: Wendell Rijo was on base three times, including a big two-run home run to help Greenville improve to 7-3 on the season. In his 209th professional at-bat, Rijo connected on his first home run, a deep fly to left field that tied the game. 

Photo Credit: Wendell Rijo by Kelly O'Connor

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