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May 29, 2022 at 9:55 AM

Cup of Coffee: Wong's late-game heroics lead WooSox; Salem salvages split after walk-off loss



5/29 Cup of Coffee: Worcester and Salem were the two affiliates to grab a win last night, and they did it by piecing together terrific performances on the mound from a combined nine pitchers, plus a clutch hit from Connor Wong (pictured). That included another great outing from Angel Bastardo. Salem did drop game one of their doubleheader despite scoring six runs, including a three-run shot from Niko Kavadas. Christian Koss also had a great showing at the plate for Portland with three hits and a home run.

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It was a pitcher's duel between Worcester and Lehigh Valley on Saturday that Worcester claimed in extras after a 0-0 deadlock through 9 innings. The WooSox managed just 6 hits, but clutch 10th-inning work by Worcester helped scrape across two runs, while the bullpen slammed the door to claim the victory.

Connor Wong's RBI single in the 10th proved to be the game winner as Roberto Ramos crossed the plate, while Ryan Fitzgerald added an insurance run with an RBI groundout that scored Yolmer Sanchez. It was Sanchez who gave Worcester its only multi-hit performance. Jarren Duran, Fitzgerald, and Rob Refsnyder also had hits in the contest.

The pitching was the real star of this game, as Worcester allowed just seven hits and one walk, striking out 12. Silvino Bracho, Taylor Cole, Eduard Bazardo, Zack Kelly, and Kaleb Ort combined for the shutout, with Kelly earning the win and Ort getting the save with a clean 10th inning.

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Somerset got the best of Portland in a back-and-forth affair that ended in a loss for the home team. Despite the loss, there were a number of strong offensive performances including home runs by Izzy Wilson and Christian Koss. The three-run homer by Koss in the 6th kept the game close, but Somerset added two runs in the 9th for some much-needed insurance. Koss had three hits in the game while Devlin Granberg added two hits including a triple and crossed the plate twice. Granberg is now batting .322 on the season. There was much much to boast about on the pitching side of things as Chris Murphy took the loss. He allowed six hits and four free passes in five innings of work to take the loss. 

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Jersey Shore nipped Greenville in the first of a doubleheader on Saturday, scoring two runs in the fifth and then holding on for a seven-inning win. Big Joe Davis had two of Greenville's four hits including a double, but the top four hitters in the batting order were stymied. Wyatt Olds took the loss despite giving up just three hits in four and a third innings. Jordan DiValerio pitched a scoreless inning and two thirds, surrendering just two hits and issuing no free passes.

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The offense was even harder to come by in the second half of Greenville's twinbill, as the Drive managed just two hits in a 5-1 loss. Tyler McDonough had a hit and drove in the team's only run, while Joe Davis earned the other hit. Greenville struck out 14 times in the contest. Yusniel Padron-Artiles took the loss, surrendering four earned runs on five hits -- including two homers -- and a walk.

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A five-run first inning wasn't enough to claim the win in the first end of a doubleheader Saturday, as Fredericksburg rallied with two runs in the seventh for a walk-off win. Niko Kavadas got Salem off to a great start with a three-run blast in the first inning, his fourth of the season. Tyler Miller had two of Salem's six hits, while Blaze Jordan added a hit and an RBI. Wikelman Gonzalez, whose start was pushed to Saturday due to rain, had a rough outing, giving up five earned runs on six hits and two walks. Joey Stock pitched well, allowing just one hit in two innings, but Jacob Webb took the loss in frustrating fashion, allowing the walk-off win.

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Salem's three-run third inning was all the offense the team needed to salvage a split on the day. Nathan Hickey, DHing on the night, drove in two with a double in the third, scoring Eddinson Paulino and Brainer Bonaci. Paulino also had an RBI double. Salem's pitchers put together a fine effort, with Angel Bastardo going three innings and allowing three hits and the only earned run of the day. The rest of the pitching staff -- Felix Cepeda, Graham Hoffman, and Maceo Campbell -- allowed just one hit for the rest of the game.
 
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Player of the Day: Christian Koss stayed hot in the month of May, as the 24-year old has hit safely in 16 of his 21 games this month. He also homered for the fourth time this year and raised his season OPS up to .766. So far in his first season in Portland, he is posting very similar numbers to his 2021 season in Salem, when he had a .776 OPS over 104 games. 

Photo Credit: Connor Wong by Kelly O'Connor