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September 15, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Abreu and Rafaela power Portland to postseason berth


9/15 Cup of Coffee:
While Worcester may have fallen to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday, Portland ensured it would be playing baseball past this weekend with another win in Somerset. Wilyer Abreu (pictured) and Ceddanne Rafaela led the red-hot Sea Dogs to a 12-7 win over the Patriots to help Portland return to the playoffs for the first time in eight years. 

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Connor Seabold made his 19th start of the season for Worcester and could not get through the fifth. The 26-year-old right-hander allowed four earned runs on seven hits, one walk, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings of work. Fifty-two of the 82 pitches he threw went for strikes as he was charged with the loss. In relief of Seabold, Geoff Hartlieb, Jake Thompson, and Frank German combined for 3 2/3 scoreless frames out of the bullpen.

Worcester's lone run came on an RBI double off the bat of Johan Mieses in the fourth inning. Mieses went 2 for 3 and was also hit by a pitch. Jarren Duran and Nick Sogard both doubled as well while Enmanuel Valdez and Kole Cottam each singled to account for Worcester's other two hits.

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Portland punched its ticket to the Eastern League playoffs with a 12-7 win over Somerset. Brian Van Belle got the start and allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over four innings of work. Jacob Wallace picked up the winning decision by working his way around two walks in a scoreless fifth inning. Jacob Webb, making his Double-A debut, was tagged for two runs in the bottom of the seventh. Brett Kennedy surrendered one run in the ninth before closing it out.

Ceddanne Rafaela unsurprisingly led the charge at the plate for Portland. The center fielder went 2 for 6 with two runs scored and four RBIs, all of which came on his first professional grand slam in the seventh inning. Wilyer Abreu, Tyler Dearden, and Christian Koss also went deep. Dearden and Koss each had two hits while Abreu went 3 for 6 with three RBIs, three runs scored, one walk, and one stolen base. Stephen Scott chipped in with a double and two walks. Out of the nine-hole, Izzy Wilson went 2 for 4 with a walk, two runs scored, and two stolen bases.

With the victory, their seventh straight and the 15th in their last 16 games, the Sea Dogs have clinched the Eastern League Northeast second-half title. They will take on Somerset in a best-of-three division series beginning next week.

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Player of the Day: Following Wednesday's three-hit performance, Wilyer Abreu is now batting .306/.509/.500 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 12 games this month. The 23-year-old outfielder was one of two minor-leaguers acquired from the Astros in last month's Christian Vazquez trade and is currently ranked as the No. 26 prospect in the organization. 

Photo Credit: Wilyer Abreu by Kelly O'Connor