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April 15, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Gonzalez fans 9, McDonough crushes first homer of season

4/15 Cup of Coffee: Red Sox affiliates went 3-0 on Thursday after Worcester's game was postponed due to inclement weather. Wilkelman Gonzalez (pictured) and Chris Murphy put together impressive outings in their respective starts for Salem and Portland. Tyler McDonough hit his first home run of the year while Alex Binelas and Ceddanne Rafaela stayed hot for Greenville. 


Josh Winckowski was originally slated to start for Worcester on Thursday but the game began in a rain delay and was ultimately called off due to inclement weather within the vicinity of Polar Park. It will be made up as part of a single-admission, seven-inning doubleheader on Friday. 


Portland received another solid starting pitching performance from Chris Murphy. The 23-year-old left-hander allowed just two earned runs on five hits and no walks to go along with six strikeouts over five innings pitched. Andrew Politi took over for Murphy beginning in the sixth and struck out the side on 16 pitches. Darin Gillies and Brendan Nail followed with a scoreless frame each, while Franklin German earned the win by fanning four over two innings and closing things out in the 10th.

Christian Koss led the charge offensively for Portland. The 24-year-old infielder drove in his side's first and last runs while going 1 for 4 with two RBIs, a run scored, and a stolen base. Kole Cottam went 1 for 4 and plated Koss on an RBI single. Nick Sogard went 2 for 4 with a run-scoring single, a double, and two runs scored. The speedy David Hamilton stole another base and now has eight in five games this season.


Greenville continued their offensive onslaught by scoring nine more runs on Thursday. Tyler McDonough doubled his season hit total by going 2 for 5 with four RBIs while hitting his third double and first home run of the season. Ceddanne Rafaela also doubled and stayed hot by going 2 for 5 with with two RBIs and one run scored. Nick Yorke was limited to just one hit and scored one run, while Alex Binelas went 2 for 4 with an RBI double. Gilberto Jimenez capped off the scoring with a two-run double in the ninth inning. Tyler Esplin and Antoni Flores reached base a combined seven times at the bottom of the lineup. 

Brian Van Belle made his second start of the season for Greenville. The 25-year-old right-hander surrendered six runs (four earned) on six hits, one walk, and three strikeouts over five innings. Three of those six hits were home runs. Jacinto Arredondo took over for Van Belle and twirled three shutout frames. Ryan Fernandez faced the minimum in the ninth to earn his first save of the season.


Wilkelman Gonzalez shined on the mound for Salem. The 20-year-old right-hander kept Fayetteville off the scoreboard while yielding just one hit and three walks with nine strikeouts over five stellar innings. Of the 66 pitches he threw, 43 went for strikes. Osvaldo De La Rosa picked up the hold out of the bullpen by hurling two scoreless frames. Jhonny Felix allowed two runs on three hits while working into the ninth inning. Barbaro Pinero failed to record an out in the ninth before Blake Loubier came on and allowed all three of the runners he inherited to score before ultimately ending the game.

Like Greenville, Salem also scored nine runs on Thursday. Marcelo Mayer went 1 for 3 with a double, two runs scored, and two walks. Blaze Jordan drove in one run on an RBI double and also scored himself as part of a 1 for 4 day. Nathan Hickey and Kier Meredith each recorded two hits and drove in a total of three runs. Meredith plated Hickey on a ninth-inning single for Salem's ninth and final run of the night.


Player of the Day: Wilkelman Gonzalez may be overshadowed by other pitching prospects in the organization like Brayan Bello, Jay Groome, and Brandon Walter, but the right-hander appears to be well on his way to becoming one of the top overall prospects in Boston's farm system. Thursday's outing in which he struck out nine batters is just the latest instance of this.

Photo Credit: Wilkelman Gonzalez by Kelly O'Connor