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August 25, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Mata leads Portland to shutout win; Lugo and Hickey homer again


8/25 Cup of Coffee:
Boston's minor-league affiliates went 2-2 on Wednesday, as the upper-level teams both won and the lower-level teams both lost. Connor Wong and Cameron Cannon tallied multi-hit games in Worcester's win over Syracuse, Bryan Mata (pictured) twirled six scoreless frames and Hudson Potts drove in five runs in Portland's shutout win over Hartford, Matthew Lugo and Nathan Hickey both went deep in Greenville's loss to Greensboro, and Brainer Bonaci enjoyed a three-hit game in Salem's walk-off loss to Columbia. 

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All six of Worcester's runs were scored in the middle innings. Connor Wong went 3 for 5 with a double, an RBI, and one run scored out of the lead-off spot. Johan Mieses and Enmanuel Valdez also drove in runs while Christin Stewart homered for the 19th time this season and for the first time since July 31. Stewart, Jaylin Davis, and Abraham Almonte each drew two walks. Cameron Cannon had a productive night at the plate and went 2 for 3 with a double and run scored out of the nine-hole.

Connor Seabold made his 16th start of the season for Worcester. The 26-year-old right-hander allowed four earned runs on six hits, two walks, and four strikeouts over five innings. He gave up a pair of home runs in the first inning but settled down from there en route to the win. Out of the bullpen, Eduard Bazardo hurled two scoreless frames before Zack Kelly struck out the side in the eighth and Kaleb Ort slammed the door in the ninth to pick up his 16th save. 

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Bryan Mata continued to impress in his ninth start of the season for Portland. The 23-year-old right-hander scattered five hits and two walks to go along with a season-high nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings of work at Hadlock Field. He finished with a final pitch count of 94 pitches, with 61 going for strikes. In relief of Mata, Jacob Wallace, Oddanier Mosqueda, and Brett Kennedy combined for three more scoreless frames to preserve the shutout.

Ceddanne Rafaela got Portland on the board right away in the first inning with an RBI triple. The rehabbing Trevor Story then drove him in on a sacrifice fly. Rafaela went 2 for 5 with an RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base. Story went 0 for 1 with a walk, RBI, and run scored while playing four innings of second base. Wilyer Abreu also went 2 for 5 with a run scored out of the leadoff spot. Stephen Scott drove in a run in the third inning and Hudson Potts went 2 for 4 with five RBIs and one run scored. Potts came through with a two-run single in the third and then clubbed a three-run shot in the fifth for his 12th home run of the season.

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Despite getting tagged for three runs right out of the gate, Yusniel Padron-Artiles put together a quality start for Greenville on Wednesday night. The 24-year-old yielded three runs on three hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts over six solid innings. In relief of Padron-Artiles, Luis Guerrero was ultimately charged with the loss after allowing two runs to score in the seventh and eighth innings. Ryan Zeferjahn struck out the only three batters he faced in the ninth. 

Greenville's first two runs of the night came on a pair of solo homers from Matthew Lugo and Nathan Hickey. Lugo scored the only other run on an RBI single off the bat of Tyler McDonough in the sixth inning. Lugo went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and his 18th homer of the season while Hickey went 2 for 3 with his fifth since being promoted from Salem in late June. Corey Rosier and Max Ferguson each drew two walks. 

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Hunter Dobbins, making his 14th start of the season for Salem, allowed three earned runs on seven hits, two walks, and two strikeouts over five innings of work. All three of those runs came by way of the long ball. In relief of Dobbins, Luis De La Rosa gave up two runs on three hits, one walk, and two strikeouts across 3 1/3 innings. He was charged with the loss after serving up a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. 

All four of Salem's runs came in the top of the ninth. Daniel McElveny got the scoring started with a two-run double. McElveny advanced to third on another double off the bat of Johnfrank Salazar and scored on a wild pitch. Karson Simas then drove in the fourth run with a two-out RBI single. McElveny went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and one run scored. Eduardo Lopez also collected two hits while Brainer Bonaci went 3 for 5 with three singles out of the leadoff spot.

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Player of the Day: Following Wednesday's performance, Bryan Mata has now posted a 1.85 ERA in his 10 outings (48 2/3 innings) with Portland since re-joining the Sea Dogs on June 28. The Venezuelan right-hander is holding opposing hitters to a .202 batting average over that stretch and could be nearing a promotion to Worcester. Mata is the second-ranked pitching prospect in the organization. 

Photo Credit: Bryan Mata by Kelly O'Connor