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May 7, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Groshans goes deep twice, Northcut homers again for Drive


5/7 Cup of Coffee:
All four affiliates were scheduled to be in action, but a rainy night pushed Salem's contest out to the weekend. Greenville took the only win in the system on Friday, powered by a monster night by catcher Jaxx Groshans (pictured) and another home run for Nick Northcut. Worcester fell despite the continued efforts of Ryan Fitzgerald, while Jay Groome and company came up short in Portland.

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There were few highlights for the WooSox in Friday night's loss. All of the run scoring for Worcester came on a two-run homer in the second off the bat of Ryan Fitzgerald. It was the seventh round-tripper of the season for Fitzgerald, who also walked twice on the night. Jeter Downs was on base twice, going 1 for 4 with a walk, and Triston Casas also recorded a hit. Starting pitcher Brian Keller took the loss, allowing five runs (three earned) on five hits in 3 1/3 innings. Phillips Valdez made his first appearance for Worcester since being optioned earlier in the week. He went one inning, allowing one run on one hit, walking two, and striking out one. 

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Jay Groome had a tough act to follow after the dominant performances of fellow top-10 prospects Brandon Walter and Brayan Bello in Thursday's doubleheader. Groome did not have the same result, struggling as he allowed four runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out two. For the second time in three weeks, Dylan Spacke came into a bases-loaded situation in relief of Groome, and both times he stranded all three runners. Reading did reach Spacke for a run in the fifth, however. Jake Thompson made his 2022 debut, firing two hitless innings, striking out three and walking one. Jacob Wallace also hurled a pair of hitless innings, picking up four strikeouts and walking a pair.

None of Portland's 10 hits went for extra bases. Nick Sogard went 2 for 5 and scored a run out of the leadoff spot. Pedro Castellanos and Tyreque Reed also had two hits apiece. 

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The Drive trailed 6-2 headed into the bottom of the fourth but clawed their way back with runs in four consecutive innings. Jaxx Groshans let the way, blasting a solo homer in the second inning and then following with a two-run shot in the fourth. Groshans added a double, finishing the evening with four RBI. Nick Northcut also homered, with a seventh-inning two-run blast that brought his league-leading total to 11. Ceddanne Rafaela doubled as part of a 3-for-5 night. Matthew Lugo drove in a pair and raised his average to .344 with a two-hit effort. 

Brian Van Belle got the start, allowing five runs on seven hits in his three innings of work. Jordan DiValerio limited the Braves to one run on two hits in his three relief frames. Robert Kwiatkowski got credit for the win, going two innings and surrendering one run on four hits. Ryan Fernandez struck out a pair in a perfect ninth inning, getting credit for the save.

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Myrtle Beach Pelicans (CHC) @ Salem Red Sox, postponed
Salem's attempt to even its series with the red-hot Myrtle Beach squad will have to wait another day, as inclement weather forced Friday's game to be postponed. They'll try for a doubleheader on Sunday.

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Player of the Day: Entering Friday's action, Jaxx Groshans had recorded just one extra-base hit in 38 plate appearances, compiling just eight total bases on the year. Two key home runs and a double later and the 2019 fifth-round pick saw his season line balloon from .161/.316/.258 to .229/.357/.514. The 23-year-old hit nine homers in a 2021 season split between Salem and Greenville.

Photo Credit: Jaxx Groshans by Kelly O'Connor