July 27, 2016 at 7:00 AM
7/27 Cup of Coffee: Tuesday saw some big offensive performances as Salem, Greenville, and the GCL Red Sox all recorded double-digit hits in victories. Pawtucket walked off in extra innings, while top prospect Yoan Moncada went deep in Portland's loss. Lowell split its doubleheader, and the DSL teams also split on the day.
The two teams that once engaged in the longest game in baseball history finished Tuesday's contest in a tidy three hours, 27 minutes. Brennan Boesch ripped a game-winning, walk-off homer over the right field fence with one out in the 11th. Boesch was 2 for 5 on the night with a double. Jantzen Witte also doubled as part of a two-hit effort, and Mike Miller added a pair of singles.
Pawtucket got fantastic pitching, led by starter Henry Owens. Owens matched a season-high with nine strikeouts, and allowed a pair of runs on five hits in five innings. Most importantly, there was little sign of the control issues that have plagued Owens for much of the season. The tall lefty walked only two batters. Kyle Martin followed with three hitless innings, striking out three and walking a pair. It continues a string of excellent work for Martin, who has allowed only one run in 18 1/3 innings over his last nine outings. Noe Ramirez picked up the win in relief, striking out five in three shutout innings.
Despite the blowout defeat, the contest featured some positives for Portland. Yoan Moncada ripped a home run in the sixth inning, his eighth round-tripper in only 28 games since his promotion from Salem. The 21-year-old Moncada now has 46 extra-base hits across two levels. Andrew Benintendi started in left field for the third time in five days, and had a 2-for-4 effort. Perhaps the most unlikely moment was the triple that lead off the second inning by Bunyan-esque first baseman Nate Freiman.
The evening started with four shutout innings from Mike McCarthy, but things unraveled quickly for the Sea Dogs bullpen. It was a night to forget for Taylor Grover, who allowed six runs on eight hits in just one inning. Williams Jerez, Austin Maddox, and Luis Ysla all struggled, each giving up three runs.
It was a career night for Jose Sermo, who led Salem's 17-hit attack with a three-homer night. Sermo, who entered the game with 11 home runs in 520 career minor league at-bats, hit solo homers in the fifth and ninth, and a two-run blast in the seventh. He raised his slugging percentage from .388 to .508 with the performance. Nick Longhi continues to pile up the doubles. He had two as part of a 3-for-4 night, giving him 10 in the month of July. Danny Mars had a four-hit game, and Joseph Monge gave Salem the lead with a three-run homer in the fifth.
Travis Lakins struggled on the mound again, allowing six runs for the second straight outing. He gave up nine hits in five innings, including a pair of home runs. Yankory Pimentel got the win in relief, allowing a run on two hits in three innings. He struck out three without a walk. Jamie Callahan struck out one in a perfect ninth for his third save.
It was a strong all-around effort by the Drive. Fresh off being named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week, starter Logan Boyd got his 10th win of the year. In five innings, Boyd allowed a run on four hits while striking out four and walking two. Jeffry Fernandez struck out three in two innings of hitless relief. A streak of eight consecutive scoreless outings for Adam Lau was snapped when he gave up two runs in the eighth, and Trevor Kelley closed out the win with a scoreless ninth.
Tate Matheny led the way with a monster game. The 2015 fourth-rounder was 4 for 5 with a home run, two runs scored, and four driven in. Luis Alexander Basabe (pictured, above left) continues his excellent recent play, extending his hitting streak to 13 games with a 2-for-5 night. Jeremy Rivera was 3 for 4, notching a double and driving in a run, while Derek Miller and Roldani Baldwin had two hits apiece.
Sunday's rain forced a double-header between Lowell and West Virginia. Matt McLean led off the opener with a triple and came around to score on a ground out. McLean later singled, and went 2 for 4 in the contest. Tyler Hill (pictured, right) went 1 for 3 with a walk and actually saw his batting average drop a tick. Jerry Downs hit his first home run of the season, and Carlos Tovar added two hits. Darwinzon Hernandez turned in a nice outing, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three. Dioscar Romero got the save, striking out one and allowing one hit over two innings.
The nightcap was tougher on the Lowell lineup, which generated only five hits. Tyler Hill again turned in a 1-for-3 outing, extending his hitting streak to nine games. Daniel Zandona got his first professional start and was saddled with his first professional loss despite not allowing an earned run. The 2015 15th-round pick allowed single unearned runs in the third and fourth. Zandona struck out a pair and didn't issue a walk in 3 2/3 innings. Brad Stone surrendered a pair of runs in his inning of work, and Stephen Nogosek struck out two in his 1 1/3 scoreless frames.
A day after their four-game winning streak came to an end, the Sox prevailed using an 11-hit attack. Lorenzo Cedrola stayed hot, driving in four runs as part of a 2-for-4 afternoon. He added a walk and stolen base. In his last nine games, Cedrola is 16 for 36 with nine RBI, six runs scored, and four steals. Rafael Oliveras, Yomar Valentin, and Raiwinson Lameda added two hits apiece. Starter Victor Garcia allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits in four innings while walking two and striking out one. Francisco Soto, the 25th-round pick in June, picked up his first professional win after allowing a run in two innings. Converted catcher Jordan Weems threw two hitless innings of relief, his sixth consecutive scoreless outing. Angel Padron followed with a scoreless ninth to get credit for the save.
Ritzi Mendoza and Eduard Bazardo combined on a two-hit shutout. Mendoza has been dominant, moving to 5-0 with a microscopic 0.94 ERA in nine starts. Tuesday marked the fourth time in his last five starts that Mendoza did not allow an earned run. He gave up just two hits in five innings, striking out two and walking one. Bazardo struck out five in four hitless innings. Bazardo lowered his ERA to 1.24, and hasn't been scored on in 10 of his 12 appearances. Luis Hernandez led the offense, going 2 for 2 with an RBI. Willis Figueroa was 1 for 2 with two walks and a run scored.
Little went right for the Sox, who saw their modest three-game winning streak come to an end. Juan Hernandez was among the few positives, scoring both runs and belting a solo home run in the fifth. Pedro Castellanos and Yeison Coca also had two hits in the losing effort. Bryan Mata took the loss, allowing four runs on four hits in four innings. In his professional debut, Rafael Gomez turned in the day's strongest bullpen performance. Gomez struck out a pair, allowing a hit in 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Player of the Day: Jose Sermo was signed out of the independent American Association to fill the void created at Salem's second base position when Yoan Moncada was promoted. His three-homer night gives him five since signing, one more than Moncada had in three months with Salem. In only 85 at-bats, Sermo now stands second on the team in round trippers, behind only Rafael Devers (seven homers).
Photo Credit: Luis Alexander Basabe and Tyler Hill by Kelly O'Connor