May 17, 2015 at 7:00 AM
5/17 Cup of Coffee: A 14-inning loss for Pawtucket was the only result separating the Red Sox minor league affiliates from a top-to-bottom sweep on Saturday. Jantzen Witte (pictured, right) had an excellent night for Portland, nearly hitting for the cycle. Greenville third baseman Rafael Devers extended his hot streak, while starter Kevin McAvoy was superb for Salem.
Right hander Miguel Celestino drew the loss in a 14 inning heartbreaker for the PawSox, a game that largely turned out to be a battle of the bullpens. Starter Jess Todd threw six innings and allowed three of the Clippers' four runs before being replaced by Dana Eveland in the top of the seventh. Eveland and Heath Hembree each threw two frames, but the dam ultimately broke in extra innings when Columbus jumped ahead in the top of the 14th.
All three of Pawtucket's runs came from home runs: a solo shot from second baseman Jemile Weeks and a two-run blast from first baseman Travis Shaw. Other offensive notables were center fielder Rusney Castillo, who went 3 for 7, and Bryce Brentz, who finished 2 for 6 with one run scored.
First baseman Jantzen Witte finished a double short of a cycle and led a strong offensive night for Portland, going 3 for 5 with a triple, a home run, three RBI and two runs scored. Catcher Tim Roberson went 4 for 5 with an RBI double, and center fielder Blake Tekotte went 3 for 4 with an RBI.
Venezuelan right hander William Cuevas threw five innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs and striking out five in his seventh start of the season. Cuevas improved his record to 5-1 with the victory, and is now tied for second in the Eastern League in wins. Kyle Kraus went the final four frames in relief, earning the save despite being roughed up to the tune of nine hits and two earned runs.
Center fielder Cole Sturgeon went 2 for 4 with a double batting out of the leadoff spot, while first baseman Sam Travis finished 1 for 4 with a double and one run scored. Catcher Jake Romanski and second baseman Wendell Rijo each went 1 for 4 with an RBI. Right fielder Aneury Tavarez broke out of his slump, going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a walk.
Kevin McAvoy was excellent on the bump, throwing seven innings and allowing just one hit and striking out five. The 2014 fourth-round pick got his third win of the year to improve to 3-2. Jorge Marban threw two clean relief innings, facing just seven batters and allowing one hit and striking out three.
Rafael Devers had a strong night at the plate for Greenville, going 2 for 4 with a double and two RBI in the win. The 18-year-old third baseman has been on a tear of late, boasting a .415 batting average with two home runs and nine RBI over his last 10 games. Catcher Ben Moore and left fielder Mike Meyers also had 2 for 4 showings, with Moore adding a double and one run scored. Shortstop Javier Guerra went 1 for 4 with a double.
Right hander Denny Bautista was terrific en route to his first win of the season, tossing six scoreless one-hit innings and striking out two. Ryan Harris and Carlos Pinales finished off Charleston in the final three frames, with Pinales earning the save. The three pitchers combined to allow just three hits.
Player of the Day: Finishing a double shy of the cycle is no small feat – especially when you are responsible for a third of your team's offense in a win – and that's exactly what Jantzen Witte did last night. Witte, who went 3 for 5 with a triple, a home run and three RBI, has been a key offensive cog for Portland all season long. He has a .344/.406/.528 slash line and ranks in the top 10 in the Eastern League in batting average, RBI, doubles, triples and OPS.
Photo Credit: Jantzen Witte by Kelly O'Connor