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April 12, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Swihart, Dubon provide late-game heroics, PawSox still perfect

4/12 Cup of Coffee: Just one night after the big club had an extra innings odyssey of its own, the PawSox defeated Lehigh Valley in 13 innings to improve to 3-0. Portland opened its 2015 season after its Thursday and Friday games were postponed due to wet conditions at Hadlock Field. Greenville earned a close win after coming down to the wire, and a handful of lesser known prospects from the lower class affiliates posted solid performances.


The PawSox blew a 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth and defeated Lehigh Valley 5-4 in 13 innings. Henry Owens picked up right where he left off last season, tossing 6 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit and one earned run while striking out four in his first start of 2015. Heath Hembree, who relieved Robby Scott in the bottom of the ninth after Scott put runners on second and third, was credited with the blown save. Zeke Spruill replaced Hembree in the bottom of the 11th and got the win after holding the IronPigs scoreless for the final three frames.

Blake Swihart (pictured) was the late-game hero for Pawtucket, breaking the tie in the top of the 13th inning after swatting an RBI single that plated third baseman Garin Cecchini. Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and shortstop Deven Marrero each had strong nights for Pawtucket offensively. Bradley finished the game 3 for 7 with an RBI double. Marrero went 2 for 5 with two doubles, two RBI and one run scored.


Outfielder Keury De La Cruz opened his 2015 season with a bang, stroking a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to give Portland an early 3-1 lead. Third baseman Mike Miller paced the Sea Dogs at the plate going 2 for 2 with an RBI and one run scored. Miller’s RBI single in the bottom of the second gave Portland a 4-2 lead, which was enough to earn the win. Jantzen Witte also chipped in a double and finished 1 for 2.

Venezuelan right-hander Luis Diaz drew the start and tossed four innings. He allowed five hits and two earned runs while striking out two. Jonathan Aro got the win, pitching three scoreless innings in relief and striking out one.

Justin Haley, who had a strong finish for Portland in 2014 after advancing from High A Salem in July, lasted only 2 1/3 innings in his first start of the season. He was pulled after allowing four runs in the top of the fourth.

Right-hander Kyle Martin was Portland’s lone bright spot on the bump in the second game. He threw 2 2/3 innings in relief, holding Reading scoreless while striking out six. Pat Light made his first appearance of 2015 in the top of the sixth, and was roughed up to the tune of five runs on three hits. The Sea Dogs struggled mightily at the plate, finishing a combined 2 for 24 in the shut out, with Miller recording both hits.


Right-hander Teddy Stankiewicz went six innings, five of them scoreless, and struck out three but earned the loss as Salem dropped the rubber match against Carolina. Mike Adams came on in relief in the bottom of the seventh, allowing one run on two hits.

Center fielder Manuel Margot finished the night 1 for 4 with a double, which was nearly a home run, and one run scored. Cole Sturgeon earned Salem’s lone RBI of the night, and also finished 1 for 4.  Aneury Tavarez, 2010 International free agent signing, continued his hot start to the season, going 3 for 4 with a double. He has six hits in his first 10 at bats in 2015.


Singles from Derek Miller and Mauricio Dubon helped Greenville break a 4-4 deadlock in the bottom of the eight inning to defeat Augusta 6-4. Dubon had a terrific night at the plate, finishing 3 for 5 with two RBI. Second baseman Deiner Lopez also had a strong showing, going 3 for 3 with an RBI triple and one run scored. Rafael Devers finished the night 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. The Drive combined for 15 hits overall.

Starter Jalen Beeks went four innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits and striking out three. Boston closer Koji Uehara, who is starting the season in Greenville while rehabbing a hamstring injury, threw one inning in relief. Chandler Shepherd and Kuehl McEachern combined to throw the final four frames, with McEachern earning the win.


Player of the Day: Although he finished the night 1 for 6 and has struggled at the plate so far this season, Blake Swihart's game-winning RBI single in the top of the 13th inning earns him Player of the Day honors. The hit gave Pawtucket a 5-4 lead, which was just enough to get the win and keep the team's record perfect through its first three games. 

Photo Credit: Blake Swihart by Kelly O'Connor.