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August 13, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Abreu grand slam powers Worcester; Teel delivers three hits


8/13 Cup of Coffee:
It has been an August to remember for Wilyer Abreu (pictured) and Ceddanne Rafaela, and the two were key cogs for the WooSox once again in Saturday's win. Kyle Teel had yet another three-hit effort for Greenville, while Roman Anthony capped a thrilling comeback for the Drive. Salem and Portland fell despite strong starts from Cristian Nunez and Isaac Coffey. The FCL Sox clung to the victory and their lead in the wild card spot, while a split for the DSL Blue team officially ended their playoff hopes. 

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Wilyer Abreu continued his dominant series against the Bisons with a third-inning grand slam. It was Abreu's third round-tripper in five games, and his 2-for-4 effort brings him to 10 for 17 in the series. Enmanuel Valdez joined Abreu in the home run column with his two-run shot in the first. Ceddanne Rafaela was 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored. Brian Van Belle turned in a quality start for the win, allowing three runs on six hits in six innings, striking out four against three walks. Justin Hagenman struck out four in two frames, giving up just one run on a solo homer. AJ Politi closed things out with a scoreless ninth. 

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Isaac Coffey came out on the wrong end of Saturday's pitchers' duel, taking the loss despite giving up just two runs (one earned) on two hits in six innings. He struck out four against one walk, giving him 133 punch-outs on the year. Brainer Bonaci managed two of Portland's six hits, including his first double since his promotion from Greenville. Nick Yorke added a double, driving in Bonaci for Portland's lone score in a complete-game masterpiece by Hartford's Andrew Quezada. 

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Trailing 7-3, the Drive pieced together a five-run eighth inning entirely on singles and walks. The final blow was a two-run single by Roman Anthony, who finished 2 for 5 on the night. Kyle Teel was 3 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored. He has three hits in each of his three Greenville starts, a 9-for-14 start to his Drive career. Keir Meredith was 2 for 4 with a pair of stolen bases out of the ninth spot, while Eddinson Paulino had two singles, a walk, and a steal. 

It was a tough start for Angel Bastardo, who surrendered four home runs on his way to giving up six runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 frames. He struck out seven batters but also walked five. Nate Tellier settled things down with 2 2/3 shutout innings. Tellier got credit for the win to move to 5-0 on the year. Felix Cepeda struck out four of the eight batters he faced and allowed just one hit in two innings to record the save. 

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Salem came out on the other end of an 8-7 decision in a wild back-and-forth contest that was only 1-0 into the seventh inning. Cristian Nunez made his first start since his promotion from the FCL and was outstanding, giving up just one hit in four scoreless innings. He struck out six batters without a walk, and needed just 47 pitches to complete the four frames. Nathanael Cruz went two hitless frames but walked the first three batters he faced in the seventh. All three came on to score, saddling Cruz with the losing decision. Lyonell James was the standout performer at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a double, RBI, and run scored. Albertson Asigen extended his hitting streak to seven games, going 2 for 4 with a walk. 

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The FCL squad turned in a three-run third inning then held on for the win across town in Fort Myers. Stanley Tucker delivered a solo home run, the first as a professional for Boston's 19th-round draft pick. Second rounder Nazzan Zanetello doubled for his first extra-base hit as a pro. He also scored a run and stole third base, his fourth swipe in six games. Luis Cohen earned the win, allowing two runs on three hits in five innings, striking out five while walking one. Garrett Ramsay and Connor Bulter both fired a hitless inning of relief to preserve the win. 

With the victory, the team maintains its razor-thin .001 percentage-point lead on the league's lone wild card slot with eight games remaining. They also moved within three games of the division-leading FCL  Pirates, who they will play in a key two-game home-and-home set on Monday and Tuesday. 

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A quartet of Team Blue hurlers combined for a four-hit shutout over two days. Nicolas De La Cruz had completed a scoreless inning of work on Thursday when the thunder and lightning descended, pushing the rest of the contest off until Saturday. Jose Martinez took over upon resumption, scattering a pair of hits in five shutout frames, striking out three without issuing a walk. Aaron Liranzo gave up two hits in two scoreless innings, and Alisson Del Orbe fired a hitless ninth to lower his ERA to 0.73. Yoeilin Cespedes had a pair of hits, bringing him to 12 for 19 during the month of August. Frederik Jimenez notched his 12th double of the year as part of his 2-for-5 effort.

It was a heartbreaking loss for Team Blue, as the Cubs scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to come from behind and officially end the Sox' long-shot playoff bid. Ricardo Rodriguez turned in a sold start, giving up two runs (one earned) on two hits in four innings, striking out six without surrendering a walk. Raimundo De Los Santos and Jesus Prado led the way at the plate with three hits apiece. Luis Arredondo blasted his first professional home run, a three-run shot in the top of the sixth that temporarily gave Team Blue a 5-2 advantage. 

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Juan Henriquez turned in a strong start but left with a no-decision in Saturday's pitchers' duel, giving up one run on two hits in five innings. He struck out five, giving him 43 on the year, second behind only Gilberto Batista among Sox DSL hurlers. Yoelvin Chirino took the loss in relief. The offense managed only five hits, with Nixson Cueche and Yosander Ascencio notching a double apiece.

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Player of the Day: Surrounded by several breakout performances and gaudy offensive numbers, Wilyer Abreu had been flying somewhat under the radar during a solid Worcester campaign. The 24-year-old outfielder, acquired in last summer's Christian Vazquez deal along with Enmanuel Valdez, has stepped to the forefront with a big August. With his grand slam on Saturday, Abreu now has four home runs in 10 games on the month, driving in 13 runs. He is 15 for 35 at the plate on his way to a  .429/.512/.829 slash line. He is currently the 23rd-ranked prospect in the system.

Photo Credit: Wilyer Abreu by Kelly O'Connor