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June 3, 2014 at 7:48 AM

Cup of Coffee: Gunkel shines on mound, Witte stays hot

6/3 Cup of Coffee: Strong starting pitching highlighted the action on a day when the affiliates split. Greenville never trailed in its victory, while the DSL Red Sox held on to win a slugfest. On the other side of the coin, Pawtucket struggled to generate offense and Salem fell in a walk off. Throughout the slate, Red Sox starting pitchers did not issue a walk.


Pawtucket dropped a 3-1 decision to the Norfolk Tides (BAL) despite a solid outing from Matt Barnes. Barnes, who took the loss for the fourth consecutive outing, allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits in six innings. He struck out six without walking a batter. Tommy Layne was perfect out of the bullpen, striking out three in two hitless innings. 

The PawSox bats were largely silent after Corey Brown scored on a Travis Shaw sacrifice fly in the top of the first inning. The team had just three hits, with Christian Vazquez' double the only extra-base knock.


It was a devestating finish for Salem, as the Potomac Nationals (WAS) scored three in the bottom of the ninth to walk off 5-4. Kevin Heller got the Salem offense going with a fifth-inning solo home run. Mike Miller was 3 for 4 with three RBI and a pair of stolen bases in his second game back after missing over a full year with a broken hamate bone.

Pat Light had his strongest outing since a late April promotion from Greenville. The tall right-hander allowed two runs on six hits in six innings of work, striking out three. Dayan Diaz took the loss in relief. After throwing two scoreless innings, he was unable to shut the door in the ninth, giving up a walk, single and committing a balk as the Nationals staged their comeback. 


Greenville was in command throughout a 7-3 win over the Lexington Legends (KC). Joe Gunkel (pictured, above) led the way in his third start since moving to the rotation, allowing a run on five hits in a career-high six innings. He struck out seven and did not issue a walk. SoxProspects.com's May Pitcher of the Month Jonathan Aro earned the save. Aro allowed a pair of runs in three innings, striking out four without a walk. 

Jantzen Witte continues to swing a hot bat. Getting the start at third base, Witte delivered a two-run homer in the fourth, moving into a tie for the South Atlantic League lead with 46 runs batted in. Kendrick Perkins also went deep with a solo shot in the eight inning. Forrest Allday had two doubles in his 2-for-4 night, and Wendell Rijo added a pair of hits for the Drive.  


The DSL Red Sox moved to 2-0 on the young season with a 10-8 victory against the DSL Mets1. Jhonathan Diaz got the win for the Sox. After cruising through four shutout frames,. the Mets finally reach Diaz in the fifth with a two-run homer. Samir El Halaby struggled when he came on for the sixth, giving up six runs on four hits, though only one of the runs was earned due to a Rafael Devers error. Jervis Torrealba was able to stop the rally with 2 1/3 shutout innings. Carlos Caceres tossed a scoreless ninth to get credit for the save.

Roldani Baldwin led the way at the plate, going 4 for 5 with a double five runs driven in. The catcher is 6 for 8 through the first two games of the DSL schedule. Luis Alexander Basabe had a double, triple, and three runs scored. Devers made up for his error by reaching base three times. The highest-profile signing by the Red Sox in the 2013 international class, Devers was 1 for 3 with a triple and two walks, scoring twice and driving in a pair.


Player of the Day: Joe Gunkel had his best start since moving to the rotation. An 18th-round draft pick in 2013 out of West Chester (PA) University, Gunkel was selected by the SoxProspects.com community as a 2014 Pre-Season All-Star as a reliever. With his performance, Gunkel lowered his ERA to 2.31 on the season, and now has 84 strikeouts against only 10 walks in 60 professional innings.

Photo Credit: Joe Gunkel by Kelly O'Connor