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June 12, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Castellanos goes deep twice; Howlett powers Greenville

6/12 Cup of Coffee: It was a night of comebacks all across the system. While the major league club was making up a season-high four-run deficit, Triple-A Worcester used a late rally led by Michael Chavis to take its fourth straight win. Portland was on the other end of a decisive rally, carrying a Pedro Castellanos-powered (pictured) 6-4 lead into the ninth only to see New Hampshire score 10 unanswered runs. Greenville led from the post, scoring in the top of the first and surviving a bases-loaded jam in the ninth. Salem could not come back from a walloping from Mother Nature early in the day that left the grounds unplayable.


What had been a pitchers' duel between Stephen Gonsalves and Tylor Megill turned wild in the late innings. The WooSox prevailed in a wild comeback, scoring four runs in the final two innings off of old friend Stephen Nogosek. Michael Chavis provided a key two-run eighth-inning double that gave Worcester the advantage. Chavis had previously gotten Worcester on the board with his solo homer in the fourth. Jack Lopez had a pair of hits coming off the bench, including a decisive ninth-inning single. 

Zac Grotz made his 2021 debut on the mound, returning from an elbow injury suffered in spring training. Grotz allowed two runs in the first but pounded the strike zone, throwing 18 of 21 pitches for strikes, serving in the opener role. Gonsalves followed, scattering four hits across five hitless innings, striking out six and walking two. Marcus Walden got credit for the win, giving up one run in two innings, and Kaleb Ort pitched a perfect ninth for the save. Worcester has taken the first four games of the series and has won eight in a row away from Polar Park.


A disastrous late rally by New Hampshire doesn't diminish the huge night at the plate by Pedro Castellanos. The 23-year old blasted a solo home run in the first innings and followed up with a two-run shot in the fourth. Castellanos now has six homers in 31 games after entering the season with just 15 in over 320 career contests. Ronaldo Hernandez had a second-inning solo blast as part of his 3-for-5 evening. Triston Casas and Jeisson Rosario both added doubles, with Casas extending his on-base streak to 17 games. Enmanuel De Jesus got the start, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits in four innings. Things then fell apart for Portland as Jose Adames and Matt Kent, two of the team's most reliable bullpen arms, combined to surrender 10 runs between the 9th and 10th innings.


Greenville has split the first four games of its series with Winston-Salem and has now won seven of its 10 June contests. Brandon Howlett followed up his four-hit Thursday effort with a double and a home run. He has 13 extra-base hits over the two days, raising his slugging percentage from .432 to .519. Devlin Granberg keeps rolling, contributing his sixth multi-hit effort in his last nine games. Dom D'Alessandro tripled as part of his three-hit evening. 

The five-run, 12-hit, 19-baserunner attack was plenty of support for an outstanding Chris Murphy. Murphy had his best outing of the season, spreading three hits across five scoreless innings, striking out three while walking one. Yorvin Pantoja added two innings of shutout ball out of the bullpen. Jacob Wallace struggled, surrendering the only Dash run on four walks and a hit batsman. Brandon Nail came into a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth and hammered home the victory. Despite being brought in to face the tying run in the ninth, it appears that the official scorer did not credit Nail with the save.


Salem Red Sox vs. Fredericksburg Nationals (WAS), postponed
The contest at Haley Toyota Field against the resurgent Fredericksburg squad was called due to wet grounds. The teams plan to play a doubleheader on Saturday.


Player of the Day: Chris Murphy and Brandon Howlett would have made excellent choices most days, but the pick goes to Pedro Castellanos and his two-home-run effort. Castellanos has long tantalized scouts with his power potential, putting on prodigious displays in batting practice but then becoming more of a singles hitter come game time. He showed some signs of adding in-game pop in the second half of 2019 when he blasted eight homers after the All-Star break. Entering the year with a career .119 isolated slugging, Castellanos has a .197 mark through the first six weeks of the season. 

Photo Credit: Pedro Castellanos by Kelly O'Connor