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April 18, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Sturgeon buoys Portland with six hits

4/18 Cup of Coffee: While the major league squad was beginning a west coast swing, the minor league affiliates stepped up to fill the primetime slot in the schedule. Pawtucket split a doubleheader against a New England rival, with Cole Sturgeon (pictured) picking up six hits on the day. A trio of relievers tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings to boost Pawtucket, while a Tyler Hill triple was the key hit in a Salem comeback.


PawSox mainstay Dan Butler led the way on Tuesday, ripping a pair of doubles and driving in two as part of a 3-for-4 evening. Sam Travis notched his fourth consecutive multi-hit game, going 2 for 3 with a walk. Chandler Shepherd allowed three runs on eight hits on 3 2/3 innings of work, but was able to miss bats, striking out five against only one walk. 

It was a dominant performance by a trio of bullpen arms on the 40-man roster to seal the win. Lefty Roenis Elias continues to impress after his solid spring training, striking out three in 2 1/3 hitless. Not to be outdone, Brandon Workman struck out five of the six batters he faced in two perfect frames. Workman's unsightly 8.10 ERA is entirely the function of a single disastrous performance, and the veteran righty has responded with seven strikouts in four hitless innings since. Williams Jerez finished things off with a scoreless ninth for the save. 


The opener of the Sea Dogs doubleheader was the Cole Sturgeon show. The center fielder was 4 for 4 with a homer, double, stolen base, and three runs scored out of the leadoff spot. Esteban Quiroz kicked off the scoring when he blasted his fourth home run of the young season, a three run shot in the top of the first. That was all the offense needed behind starter Kyle Hart, who scattered five hits across six shutout innings.

Sturgeon ripped another pair of hits in the nightcap, but it was not enough to pick up a sweep at Hadlock Field. After appearing in three games out of the bullpen to start the year, Matthew Kent was excellent in his spot start, allowing just one hit in four scoreless innings, striking out six against two walks. Trey Ball was unscored upon in his first three appearances since his move to the bullpen, but the 2013 first rounder struggled Tuesday, allowing a three-run home and walking two without recording a strikeout in two innings.


Down 4-0 in the sixth, the Sox scored seven unanswered with a triples-centric rally. Santiago Espinal and Brett Netzer had back-to-back three-baggers to get on the board in the sixth, and Tyler Hill drove in the go-ahead runs with a two-run triple in the eighth. Hill previously had an RBI single during his 2-for-4 effort. Starter Jake Thompson allowed eight hits in 4 2/3, but the only runs he surrendered came on a two-run homer in the fifth. He spent the previous four innings pitching his way out of jams, aided by five punchouts and a double play. 


The Drive fell short despite an 11-hit effort. The bottom third of the order did the bulk of the damage, with Victor Acosta, Frankie Rios, and Samuel Miranda picking up two hits apiece and driving in three. CJ Chatham doubled, giving him hits in all nine games he has appeared in. Starter Jhonathan Diaz took the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits in five frames.


Player of the Day: Cole Sturgeon was already off to a hot start this season, entering Tuesday's doubleheader with a seven-game hitting streak. He went 4 for 4 with a homer and double in the opener, and finished the day 6 for 8 with 10 total bases. Through 10 games, the 2014 10th-round pick has a .425/.467/.725 slash line, and his three home runs are halfway to his career high. 

Photo Credit: Cole Sturgeon by Kelly O'Connor