May 31, 2016 at 7:00 AM
5/31 Cup of Coffee: Both Justin Haley and Anderson Espinoza picked up victories yesterday, with Haley in particular having an impressive performance. Espinoza got the win thanks to a home run by Josh Ockimey, which was all the offense the Drive needed. Roenis Elias took a step back for Pawtucket, and Justin Maxwell's four hits were not enough to get Elias a win.
After allowing only three runs and striking out 21 over his last 15 innings, Roenis Elias was tagged for five runs, four earned, on six hits over five innings last night, as the PawSox fell to the Braves. Elias left with the PawSox down 5-2, but they came back to tie it up after seven. The Braves then got to Roman Mendez for a run in the eighth that proved to be the difference. Mendez went three innings, with the lone run scoring on a home run by Rio Ruiz.
Justin Maxwell led a 14-hit PawSox attack, going 4 for 5 with two runs scored. Sandy Leon went 2 for 4 and launched his second home run of the season, and Bryce Brentz laced an RBI double in the first inning that gave Pawtucket an early lead. He then tied the game with an RBI single in the seventh. The PawSox had a chance to tie it up in the ninth, but Chris Dominguez struck out with two men on to end it. Chris Marrero got the start at first base with Sam Travis out for the season, and he went 1 for 5 with an RBI double.
The Sea Dogs were able to withstand a late rally by the Yard Goats and come away with the two-run victory. Justin Haley was excellent yesterday, firing seven innings of one-run ball while allowing only five hits and one walk to go along with five strikeouts. Over his last seven starts, Haley has allowed nine runs over 39 1/3 innings, good for a 2.06 ERA, while striking out 39. Despite being down 8-1, the Yard Goats made it interesting, getting to Jake Drehoff for five runs over only 2/3 of an inning before Nik Turley came on to lock down his second save of the season.
The Sea Dogs offense was led once again by Henry Ramos, who went 3 for 5 with a triple and three runs scored. Ramos is now hitting .380 over his last 63 at-bats. Ryan Court went 3 for 4 with a double and a walk, Tim Roberson went 2 for 5 with a double and a walk, and Tzu-Wei Lin went 2 for 4 with a two-run triple.
The long ball doomed Salem, as the Hillcats launched three home runs, including a walk-off two-run shot. Jalen Beeks surrendered two of the home runs as he allowed three runs on four hits over five innings. Mario Alcantara followed with four tremendous innings of relief, as he allowed only one hit and did not allow a run while striking out seven. Jamie Callahan entered in the bottom of the tenth, and he served up the game-winning shot.
With Salem down by two in the seventh, Mike Meyers slugged a two-run home run, his third of the year, to tie it up. Yoan Moncada came to the plate later that inning with two outs and runners on second and third, but Lynchburg intentionally walked him and Joseph Monge flew out with the bases loaded to end the inning. Moncada finished the day 0 for 4 with two strikeouts as he continued his mini-slump that has seen him go 4 for his last 28 with eight strikeouts and only one extra-base hit.
Despite not having his characteristically great control, Anderson Espinoza still came away with the victory. Espinoza went the first five innings, allowing only one hit while striking out four, though he did walk four as well. The four walks are a career-high and he also uncorked a wild pitch. Adam Lau and Bobby Poyner combined to keep the RiverDogs off the board over the final four innings, striking out six and allowing only two hits.
The lone run for the Drive came on a Josh Ockimey home run, his ninth of the season. Ockimey had two of the Drive's five hits on the day, and he bumped his average up to .297 on the season. Chad De La Guerra was the only other batter to reach base twice, going 1 for 2 with a single and a walk.
Player of the Day: It was another great start for Justin Haley, as he continued his impressive beginning to the 2016 season. Haley improved to 4-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.49 with his seven innings of one-run ball yesterday. Almost all of Haley's numbers show a pitcher who is having a great deal of success in Double-A, and with his 25th birthday approaching and over 200 innings already logged at the level, a trip to Pawtucket does not seem far off for the tall right-hander.
Photo Credit: Justin Haley by Kelly O'Connor