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April 28, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Liu continues parade of strong Portland pitching

4/28 Cup of Coffee:
While the major league squad got a much-needed off day, two of the three affiliates in action Thursday night emerged victorious. The Portland pitching staff has been an organizational highlight in April, and CJ Liu (pictured) continued that run in the Sea Dogs' victory. The WooSox powered to an early lead and hung on at Polar Park, while Salem dropped its contest in Delmarva despite a long ball from Lyonell James. Greenville was also scheduled to be in action, but heavy rains pushed the Drive out to a Friday doubleheader.


Back-to-back home runs by Wilyer Abreu and Ronaldo Hernandez in the first inning gave the WooSox a lead they would not relinquish. Abreu was 2 for 4 on the night and is now 5 for 11 with three extra-base hits in the series. David Hamilton had a double, walk, and a stolen base, scoring a pair of runs. starting pitcher Matt Dermody allowed two runs in two innings before giving way to Norwith Gudino, who got credit for the win. Gudino pitched four innings, working around six hits and two walks as he allowed two runs (one earned). Ryan Sherriff, Joe Jacques, and Chase Shugart pitched in with a scoreless inning apiece to preserve the win.


The Sea Dogs continue to get outstanding pitching, with CJ Liu taking his turn on Thursday. The 24-year-old righthander scattered three hits across five scoreless innings, striking out eight and walking one. In the first three games of the Erie series, Portland starters have allowed just one run in 17 innings. Rio Gomez followed with three strikeouts in two hitless frames, and Skylar Arias turned in a perfect eighth. Erie spoiled the shutout bid with a run against Luis Guerrero in the ninth.

Corey Rosier led the way at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a double, stolen base, run scored, and RBI, raising his average to .357. Ceddanne Rafaela doubled as part of a two-hit night, adding a walk and a steal.


Greenville Drive vs. Hudson Valley Renegades (NYY), postponed
Steady rain at Fluor Field caused a postponement of Thursday evening's contest. Blaze Jordan will attempt to extend his hitting streak to 10 games during a doubleheader on Friday.


It was a tough evening in Delmarva as Salem dropped its second straight. Starter Luis De La Rosa had an uneven outing, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits in 3 2/3. He struck out five, walked two, uncorked three wild pitches, and needed 70 pitches to record the 11 outs. Jonathan Brand was a highlight in relief, striking out three and walking one in 1 1/3 frames. Salem took a short-lived lead in the fourth inning on a two-run homer by Lyonell James, his first round-tripper since 2021 in the Dominican Summer League. Yorberto Mejicano and Albert Feliz had two hits apiece for the Sox.


Player of the Day: This award has been largely dominated by two groups in 2023: "Portland starting pitchers" and "David Hamilton." While the latter had another strong game for the WooSox, the nod goes to Portland starter CJ Liu for his eight-strikeout, three-hit, five-inning scoreless effort. Liu signed in 2019 out of Taiwan to a $750,000 and impressed that year as MVP of the Asian Baseball Championship. He is off to a promising start in 2023, sitting second in the organization (behind teammate Shane Drohan) with 23 strikeouts.

Photo Credit: CJ Liu by Kelly O'Connor