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July 5, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Hernandez returns from IL, Hickey drives in 4


7/5 Cup of Coffee:
It was a unconventionally busy Monday, as the full-season affiliates took part in some Independence Day baseball. The day went swimmingly in the upper minors, as Darwinzon Hernandez made his return in a come-from-behind win for Worcester, while Portland saw three home runs, including a 3-for-4 day for Hudson Potts, in a big win. However, the Single-A clubs struggled offensively, despite four RBIs from Nathan Hickey (pictured) for Greenville. Of the complex league squads to complete their games, both the FCL team and DSL Red were victorious, while Blue's contest was suspended after four innings due to rain.

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Trailing 4-0 midway through the sixth inning, the hosts tallied six unanswered runs, five of which were in the eighth, to claim the victory. Ronaldo Hernandez was the catalyst in that eighth inning, drilling a three-run home run, while Devlin Granberg added a pair of two-baggers. It was a bullpen game for the WooSox, as seven arms appeared, though the most important of which was Darwinzon Hernandez, who returned from the injured list. He would strike out all three batters he faced in the fifth, turning them all away on strikes. Durbin Feltman added a clean seventh, while Kaleb Ort did not surrender a hit in the ninth en route to his 15th save.

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The homers came early and often on the road for Portland, with Hudson Potts, who was 3 for 4, and David Hamilton each going yard in the first inning, while Tyreque Reed adding a grand slam in the seventh. The Sea Dogs tallied 14 hits, as Nick Sogard, Christian Koss and Wil Dalton each had two-hit days. On the mound, Brian Van Belle was solid, striking out six over six one-run innings. Jacob Wallace contributed as well, with a clean eighth inning. 

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Greenville worked seven walks, but with only six hits, two of which came off the bat of Nathan Hickey, the Drive were unable to overcome a seven-run implosion in the eighth, breaking open what was a tie ballgame. Hickey drove a three-run shot to center in the first to put the Drive up early, while his second knock, a single in the fifth, opened up the advantage to 4-0, but the Grasshoppers touched Shane Drohan for three runs in the subsequent half inning to begin the comeback. Drohan was solid otherwise, with eight punchouts over his five innings of work. However, Jacob Webb was only able to get two outs and was charged with six runs. He was unable to stop the bleeding as Joey Stock, who surrendered the tying run in the seventh, was unable to record an out in the eighth and allowed one run to cross the plate.

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There was little offense for the visitors in Maryland, as Salem was only able to muster four hits. However, Marcelo Mayer was able to reach base three times, twice via the base on balls. Salem trailed headed into the ninth inning, but Yorberto Mejicano singled up the middle to drive home the tying run, forcing extra innings. Hunter Dobbins struck out 10 across five innings of work, scattering a run and five hits. He was followed up by Gabriel Jackson, who was solid in four innings of relief, but did cough up a 2-1 lead in the seventh.

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A six-run fifth helped the FCL squad to yet another win, holding off the crosstown Orioles' late comeback. The Red Sox worked nine walks, in addition to 10 hits, with two each from Cameron Cannon, Miguel Bleis and Lyonell James. The crooked number in the fifth was led by James' three-run double with the bases loaded, in addition to a sacrifice fly, walk and single that each brought home a tally. In a bullpen game, Barbaro Pinero, who earned his second save with a hitless ninth, including three strikeouts, was the only Red Sox arm to not surrender a run.

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The game was suspended after the end of the fourth inning due to rain. The Red Sox had only garnered two hits. 

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The Red squad rode a six-run frame of their own, this one coming in the fourth, to take victory in a shortened contest, erasing a three-run deficit in the process. The inning included a two-run homer from Jose Liriano, while Natanael Yuten, Jancel Santana, Yohander Linarez and Enmanue Martinez each had multi-hit outings. All three runs were charged to Smil Guzman, who gave up six hits as part of his three-inning start.
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Player of the Day: The totality of his team's offense, Nathan Hickey got Greenville's offense rolling in the first inning with a three-run shot, while he made it 4-0 with a base knock in the fifth. His teammates combined for four more hits and were unable to scratch across another run, which proved disastrous in the late innings. The second-highest catching prospect in the rankings, Hickey showed his bat-first profile on Monday, with plus raw power.

Photo Credit: Nathan Hickey by Kelly O'Connor