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June 26, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Homers from Casas and Howlett lead the Drive

6/26 Cup of Coffee: The rain washed away three of the games, but there were still several strong performances throughout the system on Tuesday. In a doubleheader Greenville combined to score 23 runs, with Triston Casas, Brandon HowlettJonathan Ortega, and Alan Marrero all going deep. Daniel Gonzalez (pictured, right) and Chase Shugart each had solid starts, and the DSL saw one of the all-time bad defensive performances.


Buffalo Bisons (TOR) @ Pawtucket Red Sox, PPD (rain)
Tuesday's game was postponed, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader when Buffalo returns to Pawtucket on July 12. 


New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) @ Portland Sea Dogs, PPD (rain)
The Sea Dogs were also rained out, and their game will be made up as a single-admission doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 5 p.m. 


Salem Red Sox 3, Fayetteville Woodpeckers (HOU) 2 (10 innings)
Eight strong innings from Daniel Gonzalez and a walk-off single from Edgar Corcino led Salem to victory. Gonzalez allowed two runs on four hits over his eight innings, striking out seven without walking a batter. Zach Schellenger struck out three in his only inning of relief, and Rio Gomez tossed a scoreless 10th inning. Marcus Wilson stayed hot by going 2 for 4 with two doubles, and Ryan Fitzgerald hit his first home run of the year. 


In the continuation of Monday's suspended game, the Greenville offense put on a show to beat the Intimidators. Brandon Howlett hit a two-run home run on Monday, and he finished the game 2 for 4 with three RBI and three runs scored. Jonathan Ortega one-upped him by going 3 for 5, and he hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning to give the Drive the lead. Kole Cottam went 2 for 3 with a double and two walks, and Triston Casas went 1 for 4 with a triple and a walk. 

Brayan Bello was cruising through two hitless innings on Monday before the game was suspended. The bullpen struggled to start the game on Tuesday, but Yorvin Pantoja was able to lock down the last 2 1/3 innings to pick up his fifth win. 

Greenville Drive 12, Kannapolis Intimidators 3 (Game Two)
The offensive onslaught continued in game two, led by Casas who went 2 for 4 with a two-run home run. The home run was his 14th of the season which puts him one behind Josh Ockimey for the most in the system. Alan Marrero also went deep for the drive, and Everlouis Lozada went 3 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI. Cleanup hitter Jordan Wren went 2 for 4 with a double, two RBI, and also stole his 18th base of the season.

The Red Sox were hoping to build up Chase Shugart's innings this season after he missed the first 50 games due to suspension, and he helped matters by tossing a complete game. Over the seven innings he allowed three runs on four hits, striking out five without walking a batter. The outing actually raised his ERA to 2.31 as he has not missed a beat since returning to game action. 


Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU) @ Lowell Spinners, PPD (rain)
The rain continued to wreak havoc, with the Spinners game due to be made up on Wednesday starting at 6:05 p.m. 


Felix Cepeda made his stateside-debut and was cruising through four innings before the wheels fell off in the fifth. Cepeda had allowed only one walk and no hits before being giving up four singles in the fifth. Dylan Spacke came on with two outs and gave up a two-run double in his professional debut. Devon Roedahl (27th round) and Brandon Walter (26th round) each followed with scoreless innings in their professional debuts, with Walter striking out the side. 

The Red Sox scored four runs despite having only three hits as they drew nine walks. The big hit came from left fielder Trey Ball who laced a two-run double. Fabian Andrade went 1 for 1 with a walk in his first appearance in the GCL after three seasons in the DSL, Dominic D'Alessandro (22nd round) made his professional debut as a pinch-hitter and drew a walk, while Bramdon Perez and Breiner Licona each drew a walk in their season debuts. 


It was a rough game for the third baseman of the Athletics, as he committed six of the team's nine errors. Five of the seven runs scored by the Red Sox were unearned, but the two earned runs would have been enough for the pitching staff. Wilkelman Gonzalez got the start and struck out two without allowing a baserunner over three innings. Jesus Rosillo earned the victory with four innings of one-run ball, and Robinson Montero and Cristofe Tineo each tossed a scoreless inning. 

The offensive stat lines are a little skewed due to all the errors, but Darel Belen launched his second home run and Yorberto Mejicano went 2 for 3 with two RBI. 

After going hitless in three straight games, Bryan Gonzalez broke out of his slump by going 2 for 3 with a walk to raise his OPS to 1.022. Naysbel Marcano added a solo home run, his first of the year, as part of his 2-for-4 day. On the mound Frailyn Sanchez had a dominant start, striking out six over four shutout innings. The win went to Efren Diaz who struck out two in two hitless innings. 


Player of the Night: There were several strong offensive appearances in Greenville to pick from, but Daniel Gonzalez did enough in his eight innings of work to get the nod. Gonzalez allowed two runs, which both came on solo home runs, but other than that he was nearly unhittable. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter. He had been struggling mightily entering the night, pitching to a 7.46 ERA over his last 35 innings (six starts), but thanks to a strong start to the season his ERA is still at a respectable 4.57.

Photo Credit: Daniel Gonzalez by Kelly O'Connor