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August 2, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Grand slam by Gunsolus powers Greenville

8/2 Cup of Coffee: With Pawtucket and Portland off on Monday, Salem and Greenville tried to make up for the lack of action with big offensive nights. Jose Sermo picked up right where he left off in July, and Mitchell Gunsolus (pictured) launched another grand slam for Greenville. The Spinners split a doubleheader with the ValleyCats, and Lorenzo Cedrola had two more hits for the GCL Red Sox. 


An eight-run second inning propelled the Red Sox past the Blue Rocks. After being staked to a huge lead, Daniel McGrath was unable to get past the fifth inning, allowing six runs, five earned, on eight hits and three walks. McGrath had gone at least six innings in five of his last six starts, including an eight-inning performance last time out. Bobby Poyner was able to keep the Blue Rocks at bay, allowing only one run over three innings, and Simon Mercedes struck out two in a scoreless ninth.

Even with Rafael Devers getting the night off, the Salem bats were firing on all cylinders. The 12-hit attack was led by Jose Sermo, who hit a three-run triple to cap the big second inning. Sermo entered the game batting .280/.337/.560 over his last 22 games with 10 extra-base hits. Danny Mars went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk, Nick Longhi notched his 28th double of the year, and David Sopilka went 2 for 4 with a walk and an RBI. 


Greenville followed Salem's lead, using a big inning to double up the  Tourists. Despite being down 5-1 in the fourth, Logan Boyd managed to get the win after the Drive put up eight runs in the fifth inning. Boyd went six, allowing five runs on seven hits. Gerson Bautista followed with two scoreless frames, and Jake Cosart had a scoreless ninth, though he did not strike out a batter for the first time since May 17. 

A grand slam from Mitchell Gunsolus and RBI doubles from Tate Matheny and Josh Ockimey led the way for the offense. Gunsolus finished the night 2 for 5, while Ockimey went 1 for 3 with a walk. Ockimey was scuffling coming into the game, batting .146 with three extra-base hits over his last 13 games. Trent Kemp and Jeremy Rivera each had two hits, with Kemp adding a walk and Rivera adding a double. 


The Spinners bats were quiet in the first game of a doubleheader on Monday, as they fell to the ValleyCats. Darwinzon Hernandez labored through his 3 2/3 innings of work, walking three and striking out four, while allowing one run on 74 pitches. After allowing only two runs over 17 innings in the Gulf Coast League, Jordan Weems debuted for Lowell and struck out a batter over his 1 1/3 innings. Brandon Workman made his first appearance since July 8, tossing a scoreless inning, and Dioscar Romero took the loss after allowing a walk-off double. Chris Madera was the only player with a multi-hit game for Lowell, going 2 for 3, and Carlos Tovar went 1 for 3 with a stolen base. 

A six-run fourth inning was more than enough for the Spinners in the second game of the doubleheader. Daniel Zandona started the game with four shutout innings, but he was roughed up for three runs in the fifth. Kuehl McEachern picked up the save with two scoreless innings, striking out three while allowing only one hit. 

Every player reached base at least once for Lowell, and eight of the nine starters recorded a hit. The biggest play of the game was a little league home run by Carlos Tovar who laced a two-run single to right and scored on the play after throwing errors by the right fielder and catcher. Bobby Dalbec also added a two-run single, and Ryan Scott slugged an RBI triple. 


Behind a strong start from Victor Garcia, the Red Sox pummeled the Orioles. Garcia went the first five innings, striking out six and walking one, while allowing one run. The 19-year-old has put together a solid season in the GCL, with an ERA of 2.43 and 23 strikeouts over 29 2/3 innings. Ryan Oduber followed with two scoreless innings, and Nicolo Clemente pitched a scoreless ninth. 

The offense was paced once again by Lorenzo Cedrola, who went 2 for 5 with a triple and run scored. It was the first triple of the year for Cedrola, who is now slashing .327/.403/.413 in 104 at-bats. Chad Hardy launched his first professional home run, a solo shot in the third inning that tied the game. Rafael OliverasImeldo Diaz, and Santiago Espinal all had two hits, with Oliveras adding an RBI. 


Ritzi Mendoza improved to 6-0 as the Red Sox doubled up the Rays. Mendoza tossed five innings of one-run ball, walking one and striking out three. Carlos Cortes allowed multiple runs for only the second time in 11 appearances, as he surrendered two runs over three innings, and Juan Florentino earned his 11th save with a scoreless ninth. Florentino now has a save or a win in 12 of his last 15 appearances. 

Kervin Suarez led the way out of the leadoff spot, going 2 for 3 with a double, two walks, and two steals. He leads the team in steals with 15, but he has also been caught seven times. Marino Campana laced a two-run double in the bottom of the first, and Carlos Pulido went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. 

With the game tied in the bottom of the ninth, the Astros Orange got a walk-off home run from Hector Martinez to end a frustrating day for the Red Sox. Bryan Mata only allowed an unearned run and stuck out five over five innings, and Warlyn Guzman followed with three wild but effective innings that saw him walk three without surrendering a run. Andres Jimenez came on for the ninth, but with one out he served up the long ball that ended the game. 

The offense went 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position and only mustered up four hits. Eduard Conde was on base three times via two singles and a walk, and Yeison Coca added a single and a stolen base. 


Player of the Night: A grand slam from Mitchell Gunsolus was the highlight of a strong offensive night for the affiliates. The home run was the tenth of the year for Gunsolus, a 10th-round pick in 2015 out of Gonzaga University. It was his third grand slam of the season, and the 23-year-old is now tied with Luis Alexander Basabe for the fourth-most home runs on the Drive. Gunsolus has also started to play second base, appearing there in 11 of his last 16 games after playing third base and first base in the beginning of the season. 

Photo Credit: Mitchell Gunsolus by Kelly O'Connor