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July 5, 2021 at 6:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Houck sharp in victory, Howlett leads Greenville


7/5 Cup of Coffee:
The affiliates had a clean sweep on the 4th of July, with all four offenses having at least nine hits. In Worcester, Franchy Cordero (pictured) and Jarren Duran provided more than enough offense for Tanner Houck. For Portland, Hudson Potts and Ronaldo Hernández went deep, while Brandon Howlett had another great day for Greenville. Solid starts from Kutter Crawford and Chris Murphy also contributed to the team's success. 

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The WooSox withstood a late rally to win for the second straight day. The usual suspects led the offense, with Franchy Cordero going 3 for 4 with a double and a stolen base and Jarren Duran going 2 for 4 with a triple. Yairo Muñoz also had three hits, including a double, while Jeter Downs went 0 for 4. 

Tanner Houck was sharp again as he continues to build back up from his injury, allowing one run on two hits over four innings. In 14 2/3 innings since coming off the injured list, he has an ERA of 3.07 with 19 strikeouts and three walks. Daniel Gossett allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, though it could have been worse as he walked seven. Kaleb Ort got the final two outs, walking two and striking out two. 

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The Sea Dogs squeezed 14 hits into seven innings in the first game of the doubleheader. Home runs from Hudson Potts, Ronaldo Hernández, and Ryan Fitzgerald led the way, while Joey Meneses went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. For Potts, the home run was his third in the last five games. On the mound, Kutter Crawford allowed just one run and struck out seven over 4 1/3 innings. The 25-year-old now has 37 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings this season. Seth Blair got the save after securing the last four outs. 

The second game of the doubleheader was suspended due to inclement weather. The game was tied 3-3 in the top of the fourth. 

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After missing a week with a concussion, Brandon Howlett has not missed a beat since returning. Howlett went 2 for 3 with a home run, double, and two walks to lead the Drive on Sunday. Nick Sogard went 2 for 3 with a home run and a walk, and Christian Koss went 2 for 4 with a home run, double, and walk. Not to be outdone, Tyler Dearden went 3 for 3 with a walk. This was more than enough offense for Chris Murphy who fired five innings of one-run ball. Murphy struck out six and walked two as his ERA dropped to 3.08. 

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All eyes have been on Nick Yorke, and he did walk twice, but his eight-game hitting streak came to an end on Sunday. Joe DavisStephen Scott, and Alex Erro all had two hits, with Scott adding a double. Bradley Blalock had a second straight solid start, striking out four over four innings with just one run. Robert Kwiatkowski allowed one run and picked up his sixth win, and Cody Scroggins picked up his sixth save with two scoreless innings. 

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Player of the Day: Brandon Howlett was on base four times and launched his eighth home run of the year in Greenville's victory. The 21-year-old is now hitting .288/.388/.545 in 156 at-bats with a strikeout rate just under 30 percent. Howlett has surged in the SoxProspects.com rankings, climbing to 21st after entering the year as number 40. If Howlett keeps hitting like he did on Sunday, then he will crack the top 20 sooner rather than later. 

Photo Credit: Franchy Cordero by Kelly O'Connor