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August 30, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Benintendi powers Greenville to victory

8/30 Cup of Coffee: With the exception of Greenville's 10-run, 13-hit night led by designated hitter Andrew Benintendi (pictured), it was a weak night at the plate for the majority of the minor league affiliates. Pawtucket managed one run in a loss to Rochester, the Sea Dogs went 2 for 28 in a defeat against New Britain and Salem lost 5-1 after going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position against Potomac. The Spinners battled to a 4-3 extra innings win over rival Connecticut, scoring three runs in the top of the 10th inning to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Rochester Red Wings (MIN) 5, Pawtucket Red Sox 1
The PawSox outhit Rochester 7-6 but managed only one run, struggling mightily against Red Wings starter Logan Darnell (MIN). Darnell stymied Pawtucket for the lion's share of his eight-inning start, fanning eight batters and allowing just five hits. Third baseman Carlos Rivero did the bulk of the legwork at the dish, going 2 for 4 with an RBI double, knocking in shortstop Deven Marrero (1 for 4) in the top of the sixth. Second baseman Marco Hernandez also turned in a multi-hit night, finishing 2 for 4. Catcher Sandy Leon went 1 for 4 with a double.

Starter Edwin Escobar struggled through four innings of work, allowing five runs on six hits and four walks against one strikeout, taking the loss to drop to 2-3. Right-hander Jorge Marban settled things down after entering in the bottom of the fifth, tossing three perfect innings and punching out one before making way for right-hander Pat Light in the bottom of the eighth. Light threw a three-up-three-down inning complete with a strikeout, but the damage had been done.


Portland's defense kept the team in the game in a battle of pitching staffs, but the offense failed to hold up its end of things, finishing 2 for 28 with 11 strikeouts in the loss. Right-hander Justin Haley turned in a six-inning quality start, giving up two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out six. The 2012 sixth-round pick gave up the eventual game winner on a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth off the bat of designated hitter and former American League MVP Justin Morneau (COL), who is with New Britain on a rehab assignment. Haley, who fell to 5-15 on the year, was replaced by right-hander John Cornely in the bottom of the seventh. Cornely held the Rock Cats off the board across the final two frames, allowing two hits and striking out one.

Four players reached base for the Sea Dogs: center fielder Manuel Margot (1 for 3, walk, run scored), first baseman Sam Travis (1 for 4), designated hitter Tim Roberson (0 for 3, walk) and second baseman Carlos Asuaje, who reached on a missed catch error. Portland turned in its lone run in the top of the fourth, with Margot scoring to give Portland an early 1-0 lead. The loss gives the Sea Dogs a 3-7 record in their last 10 games, and with nine games remaining are on track to finish the season with the Eastern League's lowest win percentage.


Salem's punchless offense did the team in against Potomac, managing only six hits, one run and one extra-base hit and finishing 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox' lone run came in the bottom of the fourth off the bat of designated hitter Zach Kapstein, whose double plated right fielder Kevin Heller, who reached on a leadoff walk. Shortstop and leadoff man Mauricio Dubon went 1 for 4 with a walk, extending his hitting streak to nine games. Dubon is 14 for 39 (.359) in his last 10 games. Center fielder Forrestt Allday reached base three times, going 1 for 2 with two walks. Second baseman Wendell Rijo finished 1 for 3 with a walk, also stealing his 12th base of the season.

Right-hander Ty Buttrey turned in a quality start but suffered from a lack of run support, taking the loss to drop to 8-9. The 2012 fourth-round pick tossed seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks while fanning six. Right-hander Chandler Shepherd threw the final two frames, giving up two more Potomac runs on two hits and striking out one.


Greenville's core of young talent was out in force at the plate against the Braves, with designated hitter Andrew Benintendi, shortstop Javier Guerra and a handful of others turning in solid showings. Benintendi swatted his third home run since joining the Drive on August 17, finishing 2 for 6 with three RBI and two runs scored. Guerra went 1 for 4 with a triple and two walks, knocking in a run and scoring two more himself. Second baseman Yoan Moncada added a triple and two RBI out of the leadoff spot, finishing the night 1 for 6. Left fielder Bryan Hudson led the team with three hits, going 3 for 3 with two RBI, two walks, two runs scored and a stolen base.

Left-hander Luis Ramos got the win after giving up three runs across five innings and punching out five, improving to 3-3 on the season. Right-hander Carlos Pinales tossed two clean frames in relief, striking out and allowing two hits before making way for right-hander Ryan Harris in the bottom of the eighth. Harris gave up Rome's fourth and final run after entering but kept the Braves off the board the rest of the way, striking out three across the last two innings.

The win puts Greenville half a game ahead of the third-place Asheville Tourists (COL) in the South Atlantic League Southern division overall standings. The Drive have nine games remaining in their 2015 campaign.


Lowell rode a wild 10th inning to a victory against Connecticut, scoring three runs in the top of the frame and then withstanding a Tigers rally to eek out a 4-3 win. Tied 1-1 heading into extras, the Spinners jumped out to a 4-1 lead thanks to RBI singles from center fielder Tate Matheny, third baseman Mitchell Gunsolus and catcher Jhon Nunez, as well as a pair of Connecticut wild pitches. Nunez finished the night 2 for 5 with a triple, while first baseman Josh Ockimey turned in two hits and an RBI.

With the Tigers' tying run on third base in the bottom of the 10th, Lowell left-hander Bobby Poyner drew the decisive outs thanks to a 6-4-3 double play, ending the game in nail-biting fashion. The 22-year-old earned his ninth save after replacing left-hander Matt Kent, finishing his inning of work having allowed two runs on two hits and a walk. Starter Jose Almonte was strong through the first six frames, holding the Tigers scoreless and allowing two hits and two walks against four strikeouts. Kent improved to 7-1 despite blowing his save opportunity after entering in the bottom of the seventh, allowing one run on three hits and a walk.

The victory puts the Spinners two-and-a-half games back of the first-place Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU) in the New York Penn League Stedler division, and two games back of the West Virginia Black Bears (PIT) in the Wild Card standings. Lowell has nine games left in its 2015 season.


GCL Red Sox vs. GCL Twins (Cancelled, rain)
The GCL Red Sox' contest against the GCL Twins – the team's final game of the regular season – was cancelled due to rain at JetBlue Park. The squad takes the field today for the league playoff semi-final against the GCL Cardinals, winners of the Gulf Coast League East division. The winner of that game will advance to a best-of-three final series to determine the league champion.

The Red Sox capped off their 2015 regular season campaign in style, going 8-2 in their final 10 games to finish 41-17, boasting the lowest loss total in the league along with the best win percentage.


Player of the Night: With the minor league season well into the home stretch and with playoff races coming down to the wire, every win counts. And Greenville – thanks in large part to designated hitter Andrew Benintendi's efforts at the plate – hung on to a sliver of breathing room in the South Atlantic League Wild Card race, and currently sits half a game ahead of the third-place Asheville Tourists (COL). Benintendi finished the night 2 for 6 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored, giving him nine professional home runs between Lowell and Greenville. He has also chipped in an RBI in six of his nine Low-A games.

Photo Credit: Andrew Benintendi by Kelly O'Connor