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June 14, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Cuevas, Johnson highlight strong night for pitchers

6/14 Cup of Coffee: Strong pitching performances from starters Brian Johnson, William Cuevas (pitcured, right) and Ty Buttrey helped guide their respective teams to victory, while Greenville struggled to produce at the plate. The Sea Dogs battled to a 4-3 victory in extra innings against Bowie, while Salem walked off against Wilmington.


The PawSox mounted two comebacks to earn their fourth straight win, and were led offensively by first baseman Allen Craig and third baseman Travis Shaw. Craig, who was demoted from Boston on May 18, went 2 for 3 with four RBI, three of which came via a three-run home run. Shaw went 2 for 4 with a double and three runs scored, while shortstop Deven Marrero finished 2 for 3 with a double. Right fielder Bryce Brentz went 2 for 5 and chipped in a run and two RBI.

Starter Brian Johnson went seven innings en route to his seventh win of the season, giving up five runs and striking out six. The left hander also doubled his career total for hit batters, beaning four Mud Hen hitters in his outing. Right-hander Dayan Diaz entered in the eighth inning and struck out one, setting things up for newly promoted closer Pat Light. The 6-foot-5 right hander was dominant once again, striking out two of the three batters he faced and earning his second save since joining the PawSox on June 9.


Center fielder Dave Sappelt paced the Sea Dogs with a double and a decisive solo home run in the top of the 11th, setting up Portland's extra innings road victory. The 28-year-old was signed to a minor league deal on June 11, and had previously been playing with the Piratas de Campeche in the Triple-A level of the Mexican League. He went 2 for 5 with a double and scored two runs. Shortstop Marco Hernandez also showed well, finishing 4 for 5 with three doubles and two RBI.

Starter William Cuevas was superb in his 10th start of the season, tossing six scoreless innings and striking out eight. He was opposed by Baysox starter and former Red Sox prospect Joe Gunkel, who was traded to Baltimore on June 3. Relievers Robby Scott and Jorge Marban combined to throw 2 1/3 innings, with Scott allowing one run and Marban allowing two. Right hander Madison Younginer closed things out and earned the win despite blowing the save in the bottom of the ninth.


Some walk-off heroics from designated hitter Mario Martinez propelled Salem to a tight 1-0 victory against the Carolina League North-leading Blue Rocks. The 25-year-old's single in the bottom of the ninth plated second baseman Jose Vincio, breaking a 0-0 stalemate. Martinez finished 1 for 4 with an RBI, while Vincio went 2 for 3.

Starter Ty Buttrey held his own in what was largely a pitchers' duel, throwing five scoreless innings and only walking one. The 22-year-old right-hander, who was promoted from Greenville on May 1, now boasts a 2.21 ERA and 1.12 WHIP through nine starts for Salem. Relievers Aaron Wilkerson and German Taveras split the final four frames, holding Wilmington without a hit or a run and setting up the eventual walk off. Taveras got the win to improve to 3-0 on the season.


The punchless Drive couldn't get any offense off the ground, mustering just three hits and two runs against the last-place Braves. Second baseman Mauricio Dubon finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and a walk, while outfielder Carlos Mesa went 1 for 3 with a solo home run. Designated hitter Yoan Moncada continued his recent struggles, going 0 for 3 to drop his batting average to .147 in his last 10 games.

Starter Michael Kopech fell to 2-5 with the loss and lasted only three innings. The right-hander gave up three hits and one earned run while striking out three. Reliever Michael Gunn gave up two runs across two innings of work, allowing two hits and striking out four. Right-hander Mario Alcantara threw the final four innings and was stellar,  striking out eight and allowing four hits and one run. Alcantara is one of eight Greenville players bound for the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on June 23.


First baseman Hemerson Steven went 4 for 5 with a double and three RBI to lead a strong offensive showing from top to bottom. Right fielder Willis Figueroa and Luis Benoit each finished 2 for 4 at the top of the order, with Benoit adding an RBI. Starter Junior Espinoza lasted just three innings, giving up two runs on three hits and striking out five. Right-hander Shair Lacrus earned the win after tossing the final two frames, improving to 2-1 this season.


Player of the Night: Portland starter William Cuevas was excellent en route to a Sea Dogs victory, throwing six scoreless innings and punching out eight. After two mediocre seasons in Salem in 2013 and 2014, the 24-year-old Venezuelan is in the midst of his best season since 2012, when he posted a 1.40 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in 77 1/3 innings of work for the Lowell Spinners. He earns Player of the Night honors for a solid outing, and for building the foundation that led to the Sea Dogs' extra innings win.

Photo Credit: William Cuevas by Kelly O'Connor