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August 26, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Santos strikes out 11, Wong goes deep twice in Syracuse


8/26 Cup of Coffee:
 The postseason began for the rookie-level affiliates on Thursday. The Florida Complex League Red Sox may have been eliminated by the FCL Yankees, but the DSL Red Sox Red took the opener of its best-of-three series against DSL Dodgers Mega. As far as the full-season affiliates are concerned, Connor Wong (pictured) homered twice and Victor Santos fanned 11 to lead Worcester to a blowout win over Syracuse. Trevor Story finished a triple shy of the cycle in the second game of his rehab assignment with Portland. Wikelman Gonzalez pitched well in his second start at the High-A level, but Greenville was still swept in a doubleheader. Elsewhere, Salem dropped a 13-inning marathon on the road in Columbia. 

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Leadoff man Connor Wong set the tone with a pair of home runs. The first came on the second pitch of the game and the second came with two runners on and two outs in the eighth. He also drove in a run on a groundout as part of a five-RBI night. Pedro Castellanos crushed a two-run shot in the third inning. Nick Sogard went 2 for 4 with a two-run double that plated Triston Casas, who went 2 for 5, and Ryan Fitzgerald, who went 2 for 3 with two additional runs scored. 

Victor Santos put together his first quality start since being promoted to Worcester earlier this month. The 22-year-old right-hander scattered three hits and one walk to go along with a season-high of 11 strikeouts over six scoreless innings of work. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before giving up a two-out single to Gosuke Katoh. In relief of Santos, A.J. Politi and Geoff Hartlieb combined for two more scoreless frames before Durbin Feltman surrendered an unearned run in the ninth. 

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Another day, another shutout win for Portland. As his name suggests, Sterling Sharp was indeed sharp on Thursday. The 27-year-old righty allowed just five hits and one walk with six strikeouts across six scoreless innings. He lowered his ERA with the Sea Dogs to 2.12. Out of the bullpen, Brendan Nail and Rio Gomez each struck out a batter while combing to record the final nine outs of the contest.

In the second game of his rehab assignment with Portland, Trevor Story went 3 for 4 with a double, a home run, and a pair of RBIs. Izzy Wilson clubbed a two-run home run in the third inning for his ninth big fly of the season. Story went back to back with Nick Northcut in the fourth. Northcut was only in the game after Ceddanne Rafaela, who ripped an RBI double and made a fantastic diving play in center field earlier in the game, was taken out in the third inning after taking a pitch off his left wrist. David Hamilton also stole his 57th base of the season. 

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Despite playing at home, Greenville got walked off on in Game 1 of Thursday's doubleheader at Fluor Field. Wikelman Gonzalez, making his second start for the Drive, scattered three hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with five strikeouts over four scoreless innings of work. The 20-year-old right-hander threw 75 pitches (47 strikes). In relief of Gonzalez, Maceo Campbell pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs, including a two-run walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh. So he was charged with the loss. 

Greenville's only two runs came on a two-run home run off the bat of Nick Yorke in the sixth inning. Yorke went 1 for 4 while hitting his 10th home run of the season and his fourth in the month of August. Matthew Lugo went 2 for 3 with a pair of singles while Corey Rosier and Jose Garcia each doubled.

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Greensboro completed the doubleheader sweep in the nightcap. Casey Cobb was charged with the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings. Jordan DiValerio was tagged for three runs across two innings of relief. Brendan Cellucci, on the other hand, punched out three of the five batters he faced. Despite being shut out, Greenville did record six hits. Blaze Jordan and Phillip Sikes were responsible for four of those. Nick Yorke also doubled. 
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Salem suffered its second straight walk-off loss on Thursday, though this one came in extra innings. Reidis Sena got the start and surrendered three runs in just 1 2/3 innings. Gabriel Jackson saw the most action out of the bullpen and allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits, two walks, and one hit batsman over 3 1/3 innings of relief. Christopher Troye struck out four across 2 2/3 scoreless frames while Graham Hoffman fanned three in three scoreless. Blake Loubier gave up the game-tying run in the bottom of the 12th and the game-winning run in the bottom of the 13th.

On the other side of things, Eddinson Paulino went 1 for 2 with a two-run double and two walks. Eduardo Lopez, Tyler Miller, and Daniel McElveny, and Karson Simas each had two hits. Lopez tripled and scored one run, Miller drove in one run, scored once, and stole a base, McElveny doubled and drew a walk, and Simas collected one RBI and scored one run out of the nine-hole. Kier Meredith also stole his 22nd base of the season in the 13-inning loss. 
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The FCL squad saw its season come to an end on Thursday, as the Red Sox were eliminated by the Yankees down in Tampa. Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz got the start and surrendered three runs (two earned) on two hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over three innings of work. Railin Perez got tagged for three runs out of the bullpen while Henry Nunez and Nate Tellier each gave up one run. Jaret Godman retired the only three batters he faced in a scoreless eighth inning. 

Juan Chacon led the way offensively by going 3 for 4 with one walk and two runs scored out of the cleanup spot. The rehabbing Miguel Ugueto went 2 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and Luis Ravelo went 1 for 3 with a two-run single. Brooks Brannon accounted for his side's only extra-base hit, but the 18-year-old catcher was forced to exit the game early due to an apparent injury.

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The Blue squad took Game 1 of its playoff series against Dodgers Mega on Thursday. Willian Colmenares got the start and was nearly perfect. The 17-year-old right-hander did not give up any hits and walked only one to go along with seven strikeouts over four scoreless innings. He faced the minimum thanks to a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play in the third inning. In relief of Colmenares, Wandy Abreu, Elvis Soto, and Ruben De La Cruz combined for five scoreless frames to see the shutout through to the end. 

Andy Lugo finished a home run shy of the cycle by going 3 for 4 with a single, a double, a triple, one RBI, and two runs scored. Rivaldo Avila did homer as part of a 1 for 4 day at the plate. Fraymi De Leon and Albertson Asigen each went 2 for 4 with a pair of singles. De Leon also stole two bases while Marvin Alcantara drew two walks.

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Player of the Day: Thursday marked Connor Wong's first multi-homer performance of the season. Since returning to Worcester's lineup on August 13, the 26-year-old backstop has batted .340/.380/.809 with four doubles, six homers, 13 RBIs, and 10 runs scored over his last 11 games. He is a potential candidate to get called up by Boston once big-league rosters expand on September 1. 

Photo Credit: Connor Wong by Kelly O'Connor