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April 18, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Chavis returns, Matheny, Rei stay hot in Salem romp

4/18 Cup of Coffee: Michael Chavis (pictured, left) returned from the disabled list to provide a boost to Salem hot hands Tate Matheny, Austin Rei, and Josh Ockimey as the Sox ripped 15 hits in their victory. Portland pitching issued nine walks in their loss, while a tough fifth inning spoiled another otherwise solid start for Greenville's Darwinzon Hernandez.


Control issues bedeviled Kevin McAvoy the last two seasons and they reared their head again on Monday. The sinkerballer walked seven in his 3 1/3 innings of work, resulting in four runs allowed despite surrendering only one hit. Ty Buttrey continues to show an increased ability to miss bats out of the bullpen, punching out four in 1 1/3, but three hits and a pair of wild pitches resulted in a pair of runs. Luis Ysla struck out two in a perfect ninth. At the plate, Nick Longhi went deep for the first time in 2017 with a ninth-inning solo shot. Rafael Devers ripped his fourth double of the young season as part of a 1-for-4 night.


Every starter reached base for Salem in their 15-hit barrage over Wilmington. Michael Chavis returned from an elbow injury, going 2 for 4 with a walk, double, and run as the designated hitter. Tate Matheny went 3 for 5 to bring his batting average two steals. Austin Rei delivered his seventh double in eight games, going 1 for 3 with two walks. Josh Tobias homered and Chad De La Guerra had three hits as part of the rout. Josh Ockimey also had yet another extra base hit as he continues his own torrid start. Starter Matt Kent benefitted from the offensive onslaught, cruising to an easy win with two hits on five hits in 6 1/3 innings.


Darwinzon Hernandez began 2017 with two strong starts and was seemingly in the midst of another when things went awry in the fifth. He'd given up only one run through four innings but surrendered a quick single, hit batter and walk in the fifth before giving up a decisive grand slam. Overall, Hernandez allowed five runs on four hits in 4 2/3, striking out five and walking three. Power for Greenville came from an unlikely source, as Isaias Lucena connected for a home run in the first time in his professional career, spanning 125 games and nearly 400 plate appearances going back to 2013. Tyler Hill added a pair of hits, including a double.


Player of the Day: Almost every member of the Salem lineup would seemingly fit here, but the nod goes to Tate Matheny. The center fielder is a spark plug at the top of the Salem lineup, his two runs giving him eight over the last two games. Matheny's three hits brought his batting average up to an even .500, and he nabbed two bases in the win.

Photo Credit: Michael Chavis by Kelly O'Connor