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September 9, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Bell, Rodriguez shine as Lowell drops opener; Salem eliminated

9/9 Cup of Coffee: Despite continued excellence by Kole Cottam and Keith Curcio in the Carolina League semifinals, Salem dropped its third straight to end its season. Salem had jumped out to a promising two-games-to-none lead at home, but Wilmington swept the three games in Delaware to take the series. Lowell, the final Sox affiliate left standing, dropped the opener of the New York-Penn League finals, stranding the potential tying run at third base in the bottom of the ninth. The pitchers' duel at LeLacheur Park saw only seven hits total between the two teams and featured noteworthy performances from Spinners hurlers Brock Bell (pictured) and Jorge Rodriguez.


A thrilling Carolina League semifinal series came to an end Sunday with the home team having prevailed in each of the five contests. Daniel Gonzalez took the ball for Salem and allowed three runs, all coming on a pair of homers. Gonzalez went 4 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking two. Alex Scherff struck out three and allowed a run on two hits in two innings of relief, and Wilmington reached Andrew Schwaab for a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning.

At the plate, Kole Cottam and Keith Curcio both doubled as part of their respective two-hit afternoons. The two were among the standouts in the series for Salem: Cottam was 6 for 16 and Curcio 7 for 18, and both players doubled three times. Top prospect Triston Casas was 1 for 3 with a walk on Sunday and went 5 for 19 during the five-game set.


The Lowell Spinners are trailing 1-0 in their first New York Penn League championship series in their 24 years since moving from Elmira, New York. Despite being held to just two hits by the quartet of Brooklyn hurlers, Lowell mounted a ninth-inning rally that saw the winning run left on base. The score was knotted at zero through seven innings. Starter Brock Bell, a seventh-round pick in June, went the first two innings, scattering two hits and striking out one without issuing a walk. Jorge Rodriguez was outstanding in relief. The 19-year-old left-hander went five shutout innings, giving up just one run, striking out five and walking one. He pounded the strike zone, throwing 53 of 74 pitches (71.6%) for strikes. Brooklyn finally reached veteran reliever Tom Windle for two runs in the eighth inning.

Brooklyn pitching stymied the Lowell lineup all afternoon. Semifinal hero Joe Davis recorded the first hit for Lowell, a fourth-inning single, and the Spinners would not collect another until the ninth. Down 2-0 into their last at bat Lowell took advantage of some wobbly control and nearly completed an unlikely rally. After Davis worked a walk, Nick Decker did the same, giving the Spinners two on with two out. With Luke Bandy and Will Dalton entering as pinch runners, Nick Northcut ripped a single to left, scoring Bandy and getting Dalton to third. With that tying run only 90 feet away, Brooklyn was able to force pinch hitter Roldani Baldwin to ground a force out to the shortstop, giving the Cyclones the series lead.

The two teams will meet again on Monday night at 6:30 by the Coney Island Boardwalk.


Player of the Day: It was another stellar performance in what will likely be the final 2019 outing for Jorge Rodriguez. Rodriguez was a Gulf Coast League All-Star with a 1.91 ERA in 47 innings in that circuit. He pitched in one regular-season contest after a late promotion to Lowell, giving up two runs in 4 2/3 innings. He rose to the occasion in his first playoff action, giving up just one hit in five shutout innings, keeping the score knotted at 0-0.

Photo Credit: Brock Bell by Kelly O'Connor