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April 29, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Hickey homers as part of two-hit night

4/29 Cup of Coffee: It was a conventional yet rough Thursday for Boston affiliates as they went a collective 0-4. Worcester came up short in their comeback attempt against Buffalo, Tyler Dearden homered in Portland's blowout loss to Somerset, Gilberto Jimenez went deep as Greenville lost its eighth straight in heartbreaking fashion, and Nathan Hickey (pictured) collected two hits in Salem's loss to Lynchburg. 


Rhode Island native Thomas Pannone celebrated his 28th birthday on Thursday by making his fifth start of the season for Worcester. The left-hander surrendered three runs within his first two innings of work at Polar Park, but settled in by retiring nine of the final 11 batters he faced and allowing just the three runs on six hits, three walks, one hit batsman, and five strikeouts over five innings pitched. Out of the Worcester bullpen, Eduard Bazardo yielded two runs (one earned) on two hits and one walk in the sixth while Durbin Feltman and Derek Holland combined for three scoreless frames in which they struck out five total batters.

Franchy Cordero was responsible for two of the four runs Worcester scored, as he drove in Triston Casas on a first-inning RBI double and Jeter Downs on a seventh-inning RBI groundout as part of a 1 for 4 day at the plate. Ronaldo Hernandez drove in the other two runs on a two-run single in the sixth inning. Casas went 1 for 4 with a walk and one run scored while Downs went 1 for 5 with a triple and one run scored. Johan Mieses reached base three times on two singles and a walk. Cordero had a chance to drive in the tying run in the ninth inning but fanned on eight pitches to end the ballgame. 

The final score does not tell the full story of this contest as it was relatively close through the first seven innings. Victor Santos, making his fourth start of the season for Portland and first since returning from a suspension, was tagged for four earned runs on five hits, two walks, and four strikeouts over six innings of work. All four runs the 21-year-old gave up were scored in the bottom of the fifth. In relief of Santos, Brendan Nail was roughed up for three runs on four hits in the seventh while Zach Bryant and Oddanier Mosqueda got shelled for a combined eight runs on five hits and three walks in the eighth.

Offensively, all the damage Portland did against Somerset on Thursday came in its half of the fourth inning courtesy of a three-run home run off the bat of Tyler Dearden. Dearden went 1 for 4 on the game with his first homer of the season and his first at the Double-A level. David Hamilton went 2 for 5 with a stolen base out of the leadoff spot, Devlin Granberg went 2 for 4 with run scored, and Kole Cottam reached base twice on a pair of walks while also scoring one run.

Greenville was so close from ending its extensive losing streak but instead suffered its eighth straight defeat on Thursday. Wyatt Olds made his fourth start of the year, which also happened to be his longest. The 22-year-old right-hander allowed just two runs on two hits, two walks, and six strikeouts across five solid innings in which 46 of the 76 pitches he threw went for strikes. Fellow Big 12 product Ryan Zeferjahn followed with two scoreless frames out of the bullpen before Brendan Cellucci put up another zero in the eighth. In the ninth, Ryan Fernandez could not protect a one-run lead and instead served up a walk-off, two-run home run to Chris Seise. As a result, Fernandez was charged with both the loss and blown save.

On the offensive side, Greenville was held to just four hits as a team. Ceddanne Rafaela and Matthew Lugo provided some early offense by each driving in a run in the top of the third. An inning later, Gilberto Jimenez went deep for the third time this season to match his previous career high in home runs. Rafaela went 1 for 4 with one RBI and one stolen base, Lugo went 1 for 4 with one RBI, and Jimenez went 1 for 4 with his homer. The only other Greenville hit belonged to Stephen Scott.

Top pitching prospect Wikelman Gonzalez made his fourth start of the year for Salem on Thursday and yielded one earned run on three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work. Fifty of the 77 pitches the 20-year-old right-hander threw went for strikes and he now owns a 0.57 ERA on the season.  Alexander Montero took over for Gonzalez in the bottom of the fifth and proceeded to allow three runs on five hits across 2 1/3 innings. Jhonny Felix, on the other hand, surrendered two runs on two hits and one walk in the eighth. 

Nathan Hickey led the way at the plate for Salem by going 2 for 3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. The 22-year-old backstop cranked a solo home run in the second inning before driving in another run on an RBI double in the sixth. Miguel Ugueto also collected two hits and scored once while Niko Kavadas was responsible for Salem's third and final RBI on a run-scoring double of his own. Brainer Bonaci and Phillip Sikes had two hits between them and both of those hits were doubles. 


Player of the Day: Selected in the fifth round of last summer's draft out of the University of Florida, Nathan Hickey has gotten his first full professional season off to a promising start. Following Thursday's performance, the left-handed hitter is now batting .314/.457/.571 with three doubles, two home runs, 11 RBIs, and nine runs scored through his first 10 games (46 plate appearances) of 2022.

Photo Credit: Nathan Hickey by Kelly O'Connor