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April 25, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Binelas homers again; Koss notches four hits


4/25 Cup of Coffee:
Portland's offense provided plenty of run support for Jay Groome, as the Sea Dogs hit five home runs. Alex Binelas tied Ceddanne Rafaela for the most home runs in the organization with six, and Tyler McDonough hit his third home run in the last nine games. Chih-Jung Liu got off to a hot start before fading, and Blaze Jordan added two hits for Salem.

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A disappointing road trip ended with another tough loss for Worcester as the Mets took five out of six games in this series. Up 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Geoff Hartlieb gave up a three-run home run that proved to be the difference. The pitching was stellar before that, with Brian Keller starting with three innings of one-run ball and Silvino Bracho following with two hitless innings. Derek Holland and Eduard Bazardo each fired a scoreless frame as well. The Worcester offense managed just four hits, with Ryan Fitzgerald and Jeter Downs each going 1 for 4 with a double, and Jarren Duran and Yolmer Sánchez each added a single. 

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The Sea Dogs socked five home runs to win the series 5-1. After the first three batters of the game reached, Pedro Castellanos hit a grand slam which set the tone for the inning. Kole Cottam immediately followed with a home run, and two batters later, Hudson Potts went deep. After the team batted around, Christian Koss (pictured, above) hit a home run for his second hit of the inning. Wil Dalton got in on the fun in the seventh inning, launching a solo shot. Koss ended the day going 4 for 5 with three runs scored. While he did not hit a homer, Cameron Cannon did go 3 for 4 with a double. 

Making his first rehab appearance in a week since being deemed a close contact for a positive COVID case, Josh Taylor could not get out of the first inning. He gave up two runs on three hits while recording one of his two outs via strikeout. Jay Groome pitched four innings and gave up two runs on four hits. He walked two and struck out five. It was a solid bounce-back effort after this same lineup gave him trouble on Tuesday. 

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The home runs were flying in Greenville as well, but it was not enough for the Drive to defeat the Dash. Alex Binelas hit his third home run of the series and sixth of the year as part of a 2-for-4 day with a walk. Tyler McDonough swatted his third of the year as he raised his OPS to .761 after starting the season 0 for his first 13. He finished the game 2 for 3 with two walks and three RBI. Alex Erro also homered, his first of 2022. 

Chih-Jung Liu looked to be heading for another dominant start as he struck out the first five batters, but Winston-Salem was able to chip away after that. In all, he gave up three runs (two earned) in 3 1/3 innings while walking two and striking out six. The bullpen struggled except for Cody Scroggins who struck out two in a scoreless ninth. 

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The highlights were few and far between for the Red Sox as they dropped their fourth game in a row. Juan Daniel Encarnacion turned in a solid start, allowing two runs and striking out five in five innings. The RiverDogs had more success against Miguel Suero as they got to him for five runs in two innings. Two struggling hitters had good games, with Eduardo Lopez and Blaze Jordan each going 2 for 4. Tyler Miller also went 2 for 4 with a double. 

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Player of the Day: He had some competition, but Christian Koss going 4 for 5 with a home run was too good to pass up. It's been a great Double-A debut for Koss, who is now hitting .321/.357/.472 over 53 at-bats. The 24-year-old has two home runs with two steals while playing second base, third base, and shortstop. The system's 22nd-ranked prospect, Koss is pushing for a spot in the top 20 with his strong start to the year. 

Photo Credit: Christian Koss by Kelly O'Connor