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July 11, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Hernandez records 5 RBI, Cottam notches 3 hits


7/11 Cup of Coffee:
It was a mixed bag down on the farm, as big losses by Greenville and Worcester were offset by a doubleheader sweep by Portland and a come-from-behind win for the FCL Red Sox. Ronaldo Hernandez (pictured, left) headlined the system at the plate, going 3 for 6 across the doubleheader with a grand slam and five RBI in the early game alone. In the second game, Joey Meneses and Tanner Nishioka each hit home runs for Portland. Despite the big loss for the Drive, Kole Cottam recorded a three-hit performance. On the mound, Tanner Houck had a tough start, though Kutter Crawford turned in a quality start for Portland, while Juan Daniel Encarnacion pitched four shutout innings for the FCL squad.
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Worcester scored first on a Johan Mieses single, but that was all for the visitors as Lehigh Valley pushed across a pair in the bottom of the third and an additional four in the fourth on the way to a dominant win. Franchy Cordero, who is continuing to gain reps at first base, was 2 for 3, but he had 40 percent of his team's hits. Tanner Houck was on the mound and he had control issues, walking four batters. Those free passes combined with three hits led to five runs, four of which were earned, scoring under his 3 1/3 innings of work. Kevin McCarthy didn't fare much better, surrendering another two runs in 1 2/3 frames, while two more runs went against Matt Hall in one inning.

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The Sea Dogs scored early and often, getting out to an 8-1 lead after two innings in a dominant win. Ronaldo Hernandez had the first of five RBI with a single in the first, following it up with a grand slam in the following frame. He was 2 for 3 on the day. Portland took advantage of walks with traffic on the bases as well, as two runs came on free passes with the bases loaded. Kutter Crawford took advantage of the early run support, scattering three hits and two runs across six innings of work, with both tallies coming on solo home runs. He also struck out 10 Yard Goats without issuing any walks. Joan Martinez shut down the visitors in the seventh, striking out a pair in a clean inning. 

Portland finished off the sweep at Hadlock Field, this time coming from behind after Hartford got two in the top of the first. Ryan Fitzgerald was 2 for 3 with an RBI, while Joey Meneses (1 for 3) and Tanner Nishioka (1 for 2) each hit a solo home run. Frank German carried the bulk of the pitching duties, allowing two runs on six hits in four innings. Matthew Kent and Tyler Olson each had a clean frame. Zack Kelly earned the save despite surrendering a run.

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It was an evening to forget for Greenville, despite Kole Cottam's three hits. The visitors jumped on Chris Murphy for four runs in the first inning and rode the momentum to victory. Murphy struggled through five innings, surrendering six runs on seven hits, three of which were home runs. However, he did notch seven strikeouts. Yusniel Padron-Artiles was uneven in the sixth, as Aberdeen had a three-run frame on his watch. Brendan Nail pitched the seventh without issue, though Brandon Cellucci gave up as many runs (two) as outs recorded in the eighth and Jose Espada recorded the final four outs. Nick Sogard and Wil Dalton each had two-hit outings, as well. 

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Salem only notched five hits, two of which were off the bat of Joe Davis, in its loss Saturday. Nicholas Northcut had the team's only RBI. The third inning was a tough one for Bradley Blalock as he allowed five of Delmarva's six runs in the inning without recording an out. He pitched two-plus innings, allowing six runs, of which four were earned, on four hits, with two walks and three strikeouts mixed in. Robert Kwiatkowski pitched the bulk of the game and dealt with traffic well, allowing just one run despite six hits across four innings of work. Nate Tellier closed the game out with a pair of shutout frames. 

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Despite just five hits, two of which were by Bryan Gonzalez, including a two-run single in the third, the FCL Red Sox pulled out the close win. Getting the scoring started was Darel Belen with an RBI double in the first, while Eduardo Vaughn gave his team the lead in the ninth with a two-bagger of his own. Juan Daniel Encarnacion pitched the game's first four innings, allowing just one hit against six strikeouts. All three Twins runs went against Angel Bastardo, who threw 2 2/3 frames. Zach Schellenger and Miguel Suero shut the Twins down for the win.

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Player of the Day: It was a special day for Ronaldo Hernandez, who notched a grand slam and had five RBI for Portland in the opening game of a doubleheader with Hartford. The round-tripper was his eighth of the season and with his 2-for-3 performance, as well as a 1-for-3 second half of the twin bill, he is now hitting .241/.273/.437 in 165 plate appearances during 2021. The two games added to his active hitting streak, which now sits at six games, which has led to a .450/.450/.800 slash line so far in July.

Photo Credit: Ronaldo Hernandez by Kelly O'Connor