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June 1, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: McDonough, Rafaela power lineup as Drive fall in slugfest


6/1 Cup of Coffee:
All three affiliates in action went into extra innings, with the home team prevailing in each of the contests. Worcester got the lone win of the night, with Connor Wong coming up with the game-winning hit after the team squandered a late three-run advantage. Victor Santos turned in an outstanding start for Portland before New Hampshire took advantage of the bullpen. Greenville fell in an extended slugfest despite a monster night from Tyler McDonough (pictured) and Ceddanne Rafaela.

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It was a back-and-forth contest at Polar Park, with the WooSox coming back from an early 5-3 deficit only to give up a late 8-5 lead. Kutter Crawford got the start, allowing five runs on nine hits in three innings. He surrendered a home run to Khalil Lee, who came to the Mets organization as part of the three-way deal that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City and brought Franchy Cordero and Josh Winckowski to Boston. Taylor Cole and AJ Politi delivered two scoreless innings apiece, but a defensive miscue behind Zack Kelly in the eighth led to three runs scoring. Kaleb Ort came on to stifle Syracuse, striking out two in his two perfect innings, getting credit for the victory.

Worcester outhit the Mets 14 to 13, with Christin Stewart leading the way with a 3-for-5 effort. Stewart blasted a two-run homer in the fifth and drove in three overall. Jarren Duran was 2 for 5 with an intentional walk and a pair of runs scored. Yolmer Sanchez scored three times during his 2-for-4 evening, coming in with the winning run on a 10th-inning double by Connor Wong

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What was a pitchers' duel for the first seven innings quickly devolved into mayhem at Delta Dental Stadium. Victor Santos was excellent, allowing just one run on four hits in seven innings, striking out five without issuing a walk. The only blemish for the right-hander on the evening was a third-inning solo homer, which stood as the game's lone run until the eighth. A Christian Koss grand slam in the top of the eighth ended the shutout bid. Koss was 2 for 5 on the night, driving in all five Portland runs. Pedro Castellanos had a pair of hits, while Devlin Granberg singled, walked, and scored a pair. Jacob Wallace came in for the bottom of the frame but couldn't hold the lead, allowing three runs on a base hit and two walks in 2/3 of an inning. An error and the automatic runner saddled Chase Shugart with the loss. Shugart surrendered two unearned runs in the bottom of the 10th despite giving up just one baserunner in 1 1/3. 

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It was a tough night to be on the mound in Winston-Salem, as the two teams combined for 23 runs on 29 hits. The top two spots in the order did most of the damage for the drive, as Tyler McDonough and Ceddanne Rafaela combined to go 7 for 11 with 11 total bases. McDonough doubled, walked, drove in two, and scored one as part of a 4-for-5 evening. Rafaela fell a homer short of the cycle, driving in four and stealing a base while going 3 for 5. Nick Decker was 2 for 4 with three runs scored, while Joe Davis homered, walked twice, and also crossed the plate three times.

The Dash scored three in the first off of Chih-Jung Liu, but the right-hander settled in after that, holding them scoreless for the next four frames. In all, Liu surrendered three runs on four hits in five innings.  The Greenville bullpen provided little in the way of relief, surrendering nine runs on 12 hits, leaving the Drive with 14 losses in their last 19 games. 

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Player of the Day: Tyler McDonough faced some serious competition from his Greenville lineup-mates, but the 2021 third-round pick is the pick for an effort that saw him reach base five times. The 23-year-old has battled back after a miserable 0-for-13 season-opening slump to raise his line to .253/349/.429 overall on the year. McDonough, 23, was the first of eight members of the North Carolina State Wolfpack baseball squad to get taken in last July's draft.

Photo Credit: Tyler McDonough by Kelly O'Connor