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May 6, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Liu tosses no-hitter; Palka hits two home runs


5/6 Cup of Coffee:
One year to the day after Brayan Bello pitched a seven-inning no-hitter for the Sea Dogs, Chih-Jung Liu (pictured) did the same thing on Friday night. Liu's offensive support came from a three-run home run from Niko Kavadas and three RBI from Ceddanne Rafaela. Worcester saw fireworks across the lineup, with Daniel Palka having a career night. Greenville won in a slugfest thanks to home runs from Eddinson PaulinoEduardo Lopez, and Nathan Hickey.

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Worcester's offense exploded, led by Daniel Palka's two home runs. Palka went 4 for 5 with five RBI as his OPS surged from .563 to .690. Jorge Alfaro and Nick Sogard added three hits each, with Alfaro contributing two doubles and Sogard adding a triple. Ryan Fitzgerald hit his second home run of the year, and David Hamilton went 2 for 4 with two walks and three steals. He now leads the International League with 19 steals. 
 
Making his final rehab start, James Paxton was able to work around trouble. He allowed two runs over five innings despite walking five. He finishes with a 6.23 ERA over six starts with the WooSox, walking 16 and striking out 26 over 21 2/3 innings. 

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Chih-Jung Liu's no-hitter was the highlight, while Niko Kavadas and Ceddanne Rafaela drove in three runs apiece. Liu went all seven innings and struck out six while walking two. He threw 58 of his 91 pitches for strikes. It was a great follow-up to his last start when he struck out eight over five shutout innings. Kavadas went 2 for 4 with a double and a home run, while Rafaela went 2 for 4 with a double. Nick Yorke did not record a hit but did draw two walks as his on-base percentage stays over .400. 

The Sea Dogs turned to the bullpen in game two, with Brendan Nail allowing one hit over the first 2 1/3 innings. The RubberDucks did get to Rio Gomez for two runs, while Theo Denlinger held them scoreless over the final two innings. Denlinger lowered his ERA to 0.73 and now has five straight scoreless appearances. The offense could not get much going, with Corey Rosier being the only player to collect multiple hits. He went 2 for 2 with a walk and a stolen base after going 1 for 3 with a walk and a steal in the first game. 

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Greenville's 15-hit attack was led by Eddinson Paulino, who went 3 for 6 with a home run, a double, and a steal. It's been a slow start to the season for Paulino, but he has six extra-base hits over his last eight games. Eduardo Lopez stayed hot, going 3 for 4 with his second home run of the season. He is up to .314/.417/.471 after sitting at .161/.278/.226 on April 26. Nathan Hickey hit his third home run, and Blaze Jordan went 3 for 5 with two doubles and a walk. 

The defense did not do Isaac Coffey any favors as he allowed six runs, but only two were earned. He walked three and struck out three over his six innings. The win went to Robert Kwiatkowski, who allowed just an unearned run over the final two innings. 

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The Red Sox brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but fell short. Cutter Coffey had two of the team's four hits as he went 2 for 3 with a walk. Miguel Bleis went 0 for 3 but collected an RBI on a sacrifice fly. On the mound, Luis De La Rosa allowed two runs over four innings while walking four and striking out four. Brock Bell followed with three innings of relief and allowed two runs while striking out three. 

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Player of the Day: Chih-Jung Liu was the brightest star on a solid night in the system. Liu signed for $750,000 out of Taiwan in 2019 but did not debut until 2021 due to the 2020 season being canceled. The 24-year-old has been dominant over his last two starts, allowing only seven baserunners over 12 innings with 14 strikeouts. Currently the 58th-ranked prospect in the system, Liu turned in a career highlight on Friday night. 

Photo Credit: Chih-Jung Liu by Kelly O'Connor