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May 10, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Casas powers Drive, Duran keys Salem

5/10 Cup of Coffee: The Thursday schedule got off to a bang very early, when Triston Casas (pictured) homered in the first inning of Greenville's 10:30 am matchup. The white hot first baseman had three hits, as did perpetually-hot Jarren Duran to lead Salem once again. Bryce Brentz bailed out the PawSox after they squandered a big lead, while Portland suffered the organization's only defeat on the day. 


The PawSox got off to an early 5-0 lead but needed some extra-innings heroics from Bryce Brentz to come away with the victory. Brentz blasted a two-run homer as part of a three-run 10th on a day when the veteran outfielder had previously singled and walked. Sam Travis also went deep for Pawtucket and Cole Sturgeon doubled and drove in a pair as part of his two-hit afternoon. Starter Mike Shawaryn surrendered a pair of solo home runs that accounted for both scores against him. He allowed three hits in 5 2/3, striking out four without issuing a walk. Jenrry Mejia secured the save with a perfect 10th inning.


The good news from Hadlock Field was that the Sea Dogs were done for the day by about 2:10. Other than that, very little went right in the brunch-hour contest. Tanner Houck got off to a good start, striking out a pair in the first and facing the minimum in the second, but things unraveled on him in the third as he allowed three hits and four runs, including a pair of solo homers, and did not escape the inning. The Portland lineup managed just three hits. Jeremy Rivera was 1 for 4 with the squad's only RBI. Rivera has hit safely in each of the 11 games he has started this season. 


Another day, another three hits for the irrepressible Jarren Duran. It was the second three-hit game in a row for the 22-year-old, and the eighth time in 30 games he's recorded at least three hits. Not to be outdone, Marco Hernandez doubled and drove in a pair as part of his own three-hit effort. Pedro Castellanos was 2 for 4 on the evening, extending his on-base streak to 12 games. Jhonathan Diaz outdueled 2018 first-round pick and former Florida Gators ace Brady Singer to get the win. It got off to a rocky start for Diaz, who allowed three runs in the first inning following his most recent start in which he gave up 10 runs in 2 2/3. However, the left-hander was able to settle in this time, cruising through six full innings without giving up any additional damage. Diaz struck out five and walked a pair. Alex Demchak got credit for the win for his scoreless seventh inning and Jake Cosart got the save, striking out four in two hitless innings of work.


The 2018 draft class continues to come up big for Greenville, leading the Drive to a morning victory on Thursday. Triston Casas led the charge, blasting a two-run homer to straight-away center in the first inning on his way to a 3-for-4 effort. It was the sixth homer of the season for Boston's top pick in last June's draft, and the fourth since the calendar turned to May. Brandon Howlett joined the fun with a tape-measure homer to left field in the eighth. Alan Marrero delivered his third round-tripper of the year, along with a single and a walk. 

On the mound, Thaddeus Ward turned in another solid outing. The 2018 fifth-round pick gave up two earned runs in six innings, striking out seven and walking one. Ward has struck out 44 in 36 innings across seven starts. Oddanier Mosqueda and Logan Browning combined to strike out five in three shutout innings to secure the win.


Player of the Day: There was a little bit of consternation when 2018 first-round pick Triston Casas got off to something of a slow start. The 6'4" Casas kicked off the year on a 7-for-39 slump on his way to an April that saw a strikeout rate over 35%. He has bloomed in May, however: with his homer on Thursday morning he now has as many round trippers as strikeouts on the month. Overall, Casas is .367/.424/.867 in eight games since the calendar turned out.

Photo Credit: Triston Casas by Kelly O'Connor