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May 22, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Hickey, Kavadas, and Meidroth power Portland to doubleheader sweep

5/22 Cup of Coffee:
After two rainouts on Saturday, Sunday's slate featured two doubleheaders and a whole lot of offense for Boston's minor-league affiliates. Bobby Dalbec and Wilyer Abreu were among those who homered as the WooSox split their twin bill against Lehigh Valley. Nathan Hickey (pictured), Niko Kavadas, and Chase Meidroth also went deep in Hartford as Portland swept the Yard Goats in its doubleheader. Down in Greenville, Brainer Bonaci stayed hot while Wikelman Gonzalez struck out eight in a convincing win for the Drive. And finally, Cutter Coffey delivered with a clutch hit in Salem's come-from-behind win over Lynchburg. 


A rehabbing Garrett Whitlock got the start for Worcester in the opener of Sunday's twin bill at Polar Park. The right-hander scattered four hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts over 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He induced nine swings and misses and finished 79 pitches (48 strikes). Ryan Sherriff recorded four outs out of the bullpen before Chase Shugart got tagged for four runs in the seventh. Andrew Politi then earned the winning decision by stranding the automatic runner in a 1-2-3 top of the eighth. 

Niko Goodrum paced the WooSox lineup by going 4 for 4 with a home run, two RBIs, and two runs scored out of the two-hole. Bobby Dalbec also drove in two runs while going 1 for 3 with a walk. His lone hit was a walk-off single that scored Narciso Crook from second in the bottom of the eighth. Jorge Alfaro and Wilyer Abreu each doubled while Bradley Zimmer went 1 for 3 with a run scored and a stolen base in his Worcester debut.


It was another disappointing day on the mound for Chris Murphy in Game 2. Though he only issued one walk, the left-hander surrendered seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and five strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings of work. His ERA on the season ballooned to 8.63 and he was charged with the loss. In relief of Murphy, Taylor Broadway got rocked for four runs as part of an eight-run fourth inning while Norwith Gudino gave up one run in the fifth. Joe Jacques and Cam Booser then combined for two scoreless frames out of the bullpen. 

Offensively, four members of Worcester's lineup homered on Sunday afternoon. Bobby Dalbec went deep in the fourth inning, Wilyer Abreu (two-run) and Jorge Alfaro went back-to-back in the sixth, and Caleb Hamilton left the yard in the seventh. Dalbec and Abreu each had one hit while Alfaro and Hamilton registered multi-hit games. Narciso Crook also went 2 for 3 with a pair of singles and a run scored. 


The Sea Dogs rode a five-run sixth inning to a Game 1 win at Dunkin' Park. Ceddanne Rafaela plated a pair with a two-run single and Niko Kavadas followed with a sacrifice fly. Nathan Hickey then came through with a go-ahead two-run blast for his third Double-A home run. Like Hickey, Corey Rosier also recorded two hits while also stealing his 22nd base of the season. 

Despite getting bitten by the home run ball, Brian Van Belle still pitched well enough to pick up the winning decision. The Miami product allowed four runs on seven hits and one walk to go along with eight strikeouts over six innings. All four of those runs came by way of the long ball, but Van Belle still managed to induce 17 swings and misses, the most of any Double-A pitcher on Sunday. Out of the Portland bullpen, Luis Guerrero needed just 13 pitches (8 strikes) to notch his seventh save of the year by retiring the side in order in the seventh. 


To cap off a doubleheader sweep, Niko Kavadas put the finishing touches on an extremely productive week. The designated hitter hit his seventh home run of the season (and fourth of the series) as part of a 2 for 3 day at the plate in which he drove in two runs. Chase Meidroth also went deep in the second inning for his first Double-A homer. Speaking of firsts, Alex Binelas pushed across two runs with his first triple of the season in the top of the second. Christian Koss went 1 for 3 with an RBI single, a run scored, and a stolen base out of the eight-hole.

Serving as an opener, Brendan Nail went two innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits, zero walks, and one hit batsman to go along with four strikeouts. Both of those runs came on one swing of the bat in the bottom of the first. Out of the Sea Dogs bullpen, Jacob Webb, Dylan Spacke, and Ryan Zeferjahn combined to toss five scoreless, no-hit frames of relief.


Six members of Greenville's starting lineup had two hits on Sunday afternoon. No. 9 hitter Ronald Rosario led the way by going 2 for 3 with a three-run home run, a double, two runs scored, and a walk. Brainer Bonaci also clubbed a three-run homer as part of a two-hit effort. Eduardo Lopez and Nick Decker each went 2 for 3 with five runs between them while Blaze Jordan went 2 for 4 and Bryan Gonzalez went 2 for 5. Tyler Miller made his only hit of the day count by ripping a two-out single in the eighth to snap out of an 0-for-15 skid.

Wikelman Gonzalez made his eighth start of the season for the Drive. The 21-year-old righty yielded five earned runs on six hits and three walks with eight strikeouts over five innings. He finished with 88 pitches (55 strikes) and induced 15 whiffs. In relief of Gonzalez, Joe Jones and Nathan Landry each recorded four outs without giving up a run. Alex Hoppe gave up one run in the ninth, but held on to notch the first save of his professional career. 


Cutter Coffey broke a 6-6 tie with a two-run single in the ninth inning. It was his only hit of the day, though he did draw one walk, drive in two runs, and steal his 10th base of the season. Luis Ravelo and Karson Simas each doubled as part of two-hit performances. Yorberto Mejicano also went 2 for 4 with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored while Lyonell James pushed across two runs on a pair of RBI groundouts. 

Noah Dean recorded just two outs in his seventh start of the season for Salem. The 22-year-old lefty surrendered four runs (all earned) on two hits, two walks, and one strikeout before making way for Luis De La Rosa, who gave up two runs over three innings. Luis Talavera, Marques Johnson, and Brock Bell then combined for 6 1/3 scoreless frames of relief. Bell was credited with the winning decision after retiring all six batters he faced.


Player of the Day: Sunday marked the ninth multi-hit game of the season for Nathan Hickey. Since being promoted from Greenville to Portland on May 9, the left-handed hitting backstop has batted .344/.400/.719 with three doubles, three home runs, nine RBIs, six runs scored, three walks, and six strikeouts in eight games (35 plate appearances) with the Sea Dogs. Hickey, 23, is currently regarded as the No. 15 prospect in the organization. 

Photo Credit: Nathan Hickey by Kelly O'Connor