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July 15, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Mata rolls again; Ward exits early

7/15 Cup of Coffee: Offense was hard to come by on Sunday. Two affiliates accumulated just three hits apiece, including Lowell, who was the only affiliate to come away with the win on the day. Bryan Mata (pictured, left) was solid in his third Double-A outing despite getting no offensive support. Thaddeus Ward came out strong but departed in the third inning several pitches after taking a comebacker off of the hand. With the major league squad playing on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, Pawtucket got the NESN treatment, with fans treated to a back-and-forth contest and a look at Darwinzon Hernandez. Greenville fell despite the efforts of Tyler Esplin and Grant Williams, while Salem was efficiently shut out. 


The PawSox dropped the rubber game of their five-game set as Darwinzon Hernandez surrendered his first run since moving to the bullpen at the beginning of the month. Unscored upon in his four previous outings, Hernandez entered with the score knotted at three in the eighth inning. The 22-year-old lefty issued a walk and hit a batter while inducing a couple of fly outs, but then gave up an RBI single that gave the Bisons a one-run lead. Hernandez struck out the next batter to limit the damage, but the PawSox offense failed to rally. Josh Smith got the start for Pawtucket, giving up three runs on seven hits in six innings. Jordan Weems and Trevor Kelley tossed a scoreless inning apiece.

Chris Owings doubled as part of a two-hit effort at the plate. Bryce Brentz doubled and walked while Rusney Castillo delivered another multi-hit afternoon. Rehabbing infielder Tzu-Wei Lin broke out of a mini-slump, going 2 for 4 with a walk and run scored.


Portland managed just three hits in support of another strong start by Bryan Mata. After surrendering a two-run homer in the first, Mata cruised through innings. He struck out eight and walked one without allowing any additional Rumble Ponies to score. Brett Netzer accounted for two of Portland's three hits, with CJ Chatham picking up the other. Jarren Duran walked, stole a base, and scored the lone Sea Dogs run.


The Sox got Maddux'd on Sunday as Frederick starter Brenan Hanifee needed just 91 pitches to complete the five-hit shutout. Jagger Rusconi doubled in the eighth for the only extra-base hit of the afternoon. Edgar Corcino had the lone multi-hit effort, going 2 for 4. Starter Thaddeus Ward cruised through two shutout innings, but took a liner off his hand to lead off the third inning. He tried to stay in the contest, but was removed after throwing six of his next pitches for balls. Joan Martinez was brought on, surrendering a three-run homer. Martinez struck out four in his three innings of work, his longest outing since April 17. Zach Schellenger also allowed two runs and struck out four in three innings of relief. 


Greenville got out to the early lead but could not hold on in Lexington. Tyler Esplin drove in a pair in the first inning with his 20th double of season. He also walked twice and has reached base in all 13 second-half games he's appeared in. Grant Williams (pictured, right) doubled twice as part of a 3-for-4 day, while Devlin Granberg notched his third straight three-hit effort.

Despite allowing four runs, it was an outing with a lot of positives for Alex Scherff. The 2017 fifth-round pick went 6 1/3 innings, recording an out in the seventh inning for the first time as a professional. He struck out eight batters while walking only one. 


The only affiliate to come away with a victory on the night did so in thrilling walk-off fashion. It was the seventh inning before the Spinners even recorded their first hit, a Marino Campana single that led off the frame. He came around to score the tying run, setting up the heroics two innings later. Eighth-round pick Wil Dalton led off the bottom of the ninth with a triple and was driven in on a Nick Northcut sacrifice fly. It was the 15th RBI in 24 games for Northcut. On the mound, Chris Murphy made his second career appearance, striking out four in two scoreless frames. Yasel Santana piggybacked, giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits in five innings. Two shutout innings by Ryan Fernandez earned him the win. 


Player of the Day: Not to be confused with the exciting Celtics rookie, Greenville shortstop Grant Williams has quietly put up a solid campaign. His two doubles on Sunday give him 13 for the year, and he is now riding a modest five-game hitting streak. On a Drive squad that has piled up the strikeouts, Williams has been the most consistent contact hitter, striking out just 37 times in 315 plate appearances (11.7%). Sunday was the fourth three-hit game of the season for the 2018 10th-round pick. 

Photo Credit: Bryan Mata, Grant Williams by Kelly O'Connor