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June 18, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Lyonell James leads FCL Sox; Kavadas goes deep again


6/18 Cup of Coffee:
All seven affiliates were in action on Friday, with only Salem and the FCL squad coming away victorious. Niko Kavadas went deep to propel Salem to a win in its contest. Lyonell James (pictured) keyed the FCL win, backing a stellar 7 2/3 innings of no-hit ball by Henry Nunez and Bryan Lucas. Victor Santos suffered a tough-luck loss in Portland, which joined Worcester and Greenville in the loss column.

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The WooSox dropped their third straight despite a strong effort by veterans in the bottom of the order. Yolmer Sanchez ripped three doubles and drove in a pair as part of his 3-for-4 night out of the ninth spot. Roberto Ramos did not record an out, blasting a two-run sixth inning homer along with a single, two walks, and two runs scored. Devlin Granberg made his Triple-A debut, leading off and playing right field. He was 0 for 5 with two strikeouts. Brian Keller got the start, allowing two runs on a pair of solo homers in his four innings of work. He struck out four without walking a batter. AJ Politi had a tough night in relief, surrendering a two-run homer to old friend Ryan Lavarnway during a four-run fifth inning. 

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Victor Santos came out on the short end of a pitchers' duel against his old club. The 21-year-old hurler, on assignment to Reading when he was acquired in the deal that sent CJ Chatham to Philadelphia, allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings, striking out four and walking one. A seventh-inning solo home run by Wil Dalton accounted for all of the Portland scoring in the contest. Pedro Castellanos had three of the seven Sea Dogs' hits, including his 15th double of the year.

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It was a tougher night for the Drive and starter Chih-Jung Liu than his line of two runs in five innings might indicate. Allowing two homers, six hits, and four walks in five innings is usually a disastrous recipe, but both home runs were solo shots, and a double play and three more outs on the basepaths ensured none of those other eight baserunners came home. Cody Scroggins was a highlight out of the bullpen, needing only 12 pitches while striking out all three batters he faced in a scoreless eighth. Tyler McDonough went 2 for 3 with a walk out of the leadoff spot for Greenville. Tyler Esplin doubled for the Drive's only extra-base hit.

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A scorching-hot Niko Kavadas struck again to lead Salem back over the .500 mark. Kavadas hit a two-run homer in the first inning that proved to be decisive. It was his third homer in four games and his sixth in 14 June contests. Kavadas has largely stuck to the three true outcomes this month, putting the ball in play in only 19 of 59 plate appearances on his way to a .326/.508/.791 slash line. Blaze Jordan was 2 for 3 with a walk, while Eddinson Paulino ripped his 18th double of the season. Paulino's two-base hit moved him into a tie with Jordan atop the Carolina League. 

Hunter Dobbins and Gabriel Jackson split up the duties on the mound, combining to induce 15 ground-ball outs. Dobbins went the first four innings, allowing one run on three hits, striking out two against just one walk. Jackson scattered five hits across five scoreless frames in relief, walking two and striking out one. 

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The FCL Sox had fallen behind 2-0 in the June 11 contest that was suspended in the bottom of the first inning, but scored all four runs in today's completion as a trio of pitchers allowed just one hit. Third baseman Lyonell James led the way with a monster game, going 4 for 4 with two doubles, two RBI, and a run scored. He has reached safely in each of the six games that he has appeared. Albert Feliz was 2 for 4, driving in the Sox other two runs. Jose Ramirez had allowed two runs in 1/3 of an inning before the weather suspension last Saturday. Henry Nunez took the reins when upon the restart, firing 3 2/3 hitless innings, striking out four while walking three. Bryan Lucas was outstanding in relief, going four frames without giving up a hit, striking out seven of the 12 batters he faced and walking only one. Nate Tellier got credit for the save, allowing the Twins' lone hit on the day and striking out two in a scoreless ninth. 

FCL Red Sox @ FCL Twins, postponed
The regularly-schedule contest, originally slated to follow the completion, was postponed due to COVID-19 precautions. 

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Team Red fell for just the second time in 10 contests as the Cardinals took advantage of 15 Red Sox walks. Ali Ascanio threw 2 2/3 hitless innings but walked five batters against four strikeouts. He is unscored upon in his first four appearances of 2022. At the plate, Andy Lugo was 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Fraymi De Leon was 1 for 4 with a stolen base.

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The Blue squad suffered a heartbreaker, surrendering a late 6-1 lead to fall in a walk-off. Cesar Ruiz got the start, allowing one run on three hits in four innings, striking out four and walking two. The bullpen could not hold the lead, walking six batters and giving up six runs on five hits in 2 1/3. Yohander Linarez was a highlight at the plate, going 2 for 2 with a walk, stolen base, RBI, and run scored. Freili Encarnacion added yet another double, his fifth in eight games to start his professional career. 

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Player of the Day: Lyonell James is off to a strong start in his first season stateside. James was signed to a $440,000 bonus in July 2019 and had a solid debut in the Dominican Summer League in 2021. With his 4-for-4 effort in today's contest, he is now 8 for 20 with three doubles, four walks, and just one strikeout in six games. The lanky 19-year old was listed as a shortstop upon signing but has played exclusively third base as a pro. 

Photo Credit: Lyonell James by Kelly O'Connor