SoxProspects News

September 4, 2015 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Benintendi walk-off bomb keeps Drive in hunt


9/4 Cup of Coffee: Andrew Benintendi snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a monster walk-off home run on Thursday to keep Greenville a half-game out of the South Atlantic League Wild Card with four games to play. The Spinners, meanwhile, were on the opposite end of a walk-off, putting them on the brink of elimination from playoff contention. A wacky play sank a Portland comeback attempt. Wendell Rijo had arguably his biggest game of the year for Salem, while the newly acquired Luis Ysla was impressive in relief for the High-A Red Sox.

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The PawSox escaped a ninth-inning rally by the Red Wings with Deven Marrero playing a tough hop to get the final out at third. Marrero played third base for just the second time in his career, according to the PawSox website. Dayan Diaz was credited with the save, but allowed an inherited runner to score and was helped out by Marrero's defense. Rochester's two ninth-inning runs were charged to Jonathan Aro. The PawSox got a quality start out of Edwin Escobar, who allowed two runs on four hits in six innings. He struck out a pair, but also struggled with walks, allowing four free passes. Jonathan Roof blasted a two-run home run in the sixth that gave Pawtucket a 4-2 lead at the time. Humberto Quintero drove in the eventual game-winning run on a RBI single in the seventh

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The Sea Dogs rallied late, but a baserunning blunder sank a golden opportunity for a comeback. Trailing 4-1 in the seventh, Portland loaded the bases on a hit and a pair of walks. Cole Sturgeon walked with the bases loaded, putting the go-ahead run in scoring position. Manuel Margot hit a sacrifice fly to center field to cut the deficit to one, but Sturgeon and Jordan Weems both ended up on second base when Sturgeon tagged up and Weems got caught in a rundown. Sturgeon was officially tagged out to complete a wild 8-6-5-4-3 double play. Portland never threatened again after that. Keury De La Cruz went 3 for 4. Justin Haley took a tough loss, allowing four runs, two earned, on six hits while walking three and striking out a pair.

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Wendell Rijo had one of the biggest games of his career, driving in a career-high five runs. Rijo led a 10-hit attack by Salem, going 2 for 5 with a three-run home run in the ninth inning. He also hit a two-run double in the fifth, which could have been a three-run double, but Mauricio Dubon was thrown out at the plate. Daniel McGrath pitched five solid innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out five and walking one. Luis Ysla, recently acquired from the Giants in the trade for Alejandro de Aza, pitched brilliantly out of the bullpen in his Red Sox debut. Ysla threw three no-hit innings, striking out five and walking a pair. He struck out the side in the eighth to complete his outing.

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In perhaps its most dramatic win of the season, Greenville scored four unanswered runs against division-leading Savannah to stay a half-game behind Asheville in the South Atlantic League Wild Card race. Andrew Benintendi crushed a 392-foot, walk-off, two-run home run to right field in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Drive to victory. Rafael Devers, who went 3 for 4 with a double and two runs scored, got the rally started with a leadoff walk in the ninth. Joseph Monge also had a huge night, going 3 for 4 with a double and a run scored. He started the rally with a two-run single in the seventh. He also swiped a pair of bases to bring his season total to 22. Yoan Moncada went 0 for 3, but walked twice and stole his 46th base of the season. 

The Greenville bullpen was the unsung hero of the game, with three relievers cleaning up after Luis Ramos could not escape a four-run first inning. Carlos Pinales gave up one run, but did not allow a hit and struck out six in 3 1/3 innings of relief. Kuehl McEachern picked up where Pinales left off, hurling four innings of shutout ball. He allowed just two hits, struck out one and walked one. Ryan Harris picked up the win with a perfect ninth.

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The Spinners were sent to the brink of elimination from playoff contention on a walk-off single. The offense was unable to support solid pitching from Jose Almonte and Trevor Kelley. Almonte struck out nine in 6 2/3, while giving up one run on six hits while walking just one. Kelley struck out the first four batters he faced, but then gave up a single, double, an intentional walk and the game-winning single in the ninth. Lowell went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position as a team.

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Player of the Night: While there were several deserving candidates on Thursday - including Monge, Rijo and Ysla - it is Andrew Benintendi's flair for the dramatic that gives him the edge. Benintendi has been nothing short of dominant since his promotion to Greenville. He is hitting .328/.408/.574 in 15 games with the Drive with four home runs with 14 RBI and 11 runs scored. 

Photo Credit: Andrew Benintendi by Kelly O'Connor

 
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