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May 25, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Bello, Duran shine in Worcester romp; Jackson leads Salem one-hitter


5/25 Cup of Coffee:
It was a day of outstanding pitching down on the farm, with the four affiliates combining to allow just five runs on their way to a Tuesday sweep. Brayan Bello, one of the minors' hottest arms, turned in another impressive outing. He was supported by a surplus of offense for the Jarren Duran-led WooSox. Jay Groome turned in another strong start for the Sea Dogs, Brian Van Belle halted Greenville's losing streak, and Gabriel Jackson (pictured) outpitched a rehabbing All-Star for Salem as part of a combined one-hitter. 

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Brayan Bello has been the story of the system so far in 2022, and that run continued on Tuesday. Making his second-Triple-A appearance, Bello went six innings, allowing two runs on three hits, striking out 10 and walking three. He has allowed two or fewer runs in all eight of his starts this year, and it was the second straight game reaching the 10-strikeout mark. Taylor Cole pitched a scoreless seventh inning, striking out one. He was followed by a hitless eighth inning for Ryan Brasier, making his first outing since being optioned from the major club over the weekend. A few hours after his promotion from Portland, Frank German got the ninth in his Triple-A debut. The 24-year-old righty walked one and struck out one in a hitless ninth inning.

The quartet of hurlers received 13 runs and 15 hits of support from the high-powered Worcester offense. Jarren Duran twice doubled and once tripled out of the leadoff spot as part of a 3-for-5 evening. Duran walked, scored a pair of runs, and drove in another as he raised his line to .325/.402/.573 on the year. A pair of catchers who have struggled at the plate this year also played key roles. Ronaldo Hernandez got the start at DH, going 4 for 5 with a homer, double, and three runs scored. Connor Wong handled the catching duties and went 2 for 3 with a homer, two walks, and three runs scored. Rob Refsnyder and Christin Stewart also went deep in the victory.

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It was a pitchers' duel in Portland, as the two squads combined for just eight hits during Tuesday's matinee. Jay Groome spun his third straight quality start, allowing just an unearned run on four hits in six innings, striking out nine, and walking only two. The 2016 first-round pick dropped his ERA on the year down to 2.89, and he has surrendered just two earned runs in 18 2/3 innings across his last three outings. Brandon Nail and Chase Shugart combined for three hitless innings out of the bullpen to seal the win. Christian Koss had the only extra-base hit for Portland, ripping a fifth-inning double and then coming around to score what proved to be the game's decisive run. David Hamilton singled, stole a base, and scored Portland's first run.

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Brian Van Belle got the assignment in the opener in Lakewood. The former Miami Hurricane allowed one run on six hits in five innings of work, striking out six against one walk on his way to his second winning decision of the year. A trio of relievers followed with four hitless innings, with Devon Roedahl going two frames followed by Michael Gettys and Cody Scroggins with one apiece. At the plate, Nick Yorke and Ceddanne Rafaela both doubled on the day. Alex Binelas had a 2-for-4 night, picking up a walk, run scored, and two RBI. Tyler McDonough also walked and drove in a pair as part of a two-hit night. The victory for Greenville snapped a five-game losing streak.

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It was a big night in Fredericksburg, as four-time All-Star and 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg took the mound for the first time since undergoing Thoracic Outlet Surgery last June. The No. 1 overall pick in 2009 was understandably rusty, particularly in comparison to Gabriel Jackson who spun a gem for Salem. Jackson gave up just one unearned run on one hit in six innings, striking out six, and walking a pair. The second-inning single off of Jackson would be the only hit Salem would surrender all evening. Christopher Troye struck out one batter in a perfect seventh inning. Maceo Campbell closed out the win by striking out five of the seven batters he faced, the only baserunner coming on a walk. 

Nathan Hickey provided the offensive spark for the Sox, going 3 for 4 with a fifth-inning solo homer. Hickey also walked and scored a pair in the win. Tyler Miller also went deep, while Niko Kavadas was 1 for 3 with a double, two walks, and two RBI. Eddinson Paulino was held hitless but extended his on-base streak to 13 games with a hit-by-pitch. 

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Player of the Day: It was a sterling effort by starting pitchers, who combined to allow three earned runs on 14 hits in 23 innings, striking out 31 and walking eight. The best of the lot was 20-year-old Dominican right-hander Gabriel Jackson, who went the first six innings of the Sox combined one-hitter. At $350,000, Jackson received the highest bonus of any pitcher the Sox signed in the 2018-19 international free agent class. He's been solid on the year, with a 4.94 ERA that was inflated by an outing in which he was rocked for seven runs in 1 1/3 in late April. In 20 innings across four May outings, Jackson has a 2.70 ERA, 18 strikeouts, five walks, and he has not given up a home run. 

Photo Credit: Gabriel Jackson by Kelly O'Connor