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June 28, 2024 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Arias shines as FCL Sox split twinbill; Dean dominant in Salem


6/28 Cup of Coffee:
It was an overflowing schedule on Thursday, marked by a pair of doubleheader splits and some outstanding pitching efforts. Franklin Arias (pictured) and Jamie Westbrook had big days as the FCL Sox and WooSox split their doubleheaders. Noah Dean struck out 10 in five innings to lead the Salem shutout, while a trio of hurlers delivered a two-hitter in Greenville's win. The DSL squads played a head-to-head matchup, while Double-A ended up the only level at which the organization failed to record a win.

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A Wednesday rainout necessitated a Thursday twinbill, with the WooSox jumping out with 14 hits in the opener. Matthew Lugo had been in a 6-for-41 skid since being hit on the hand on June 7, and a three-day break to heal seems to have done the 2019 second-round pick some good. He blasted a three-run fifth-inning homer as part of a 3-for-4 effort that included a double, two runs scored, and four RBI. Jamie Westbrook was 3 for 3 with two runs scored, and Eddy Alvarez and Mark Kolozsvary had back-to-back homers in the fourth. Bryan Mata was moved up to the WooSox as he continues his rehab assignment, getting the opener role. He hit the first batter of the game and surrendered a two-run homer to the second, but he settled in after that, finishing 2 2/3 innings with just the two runs allowed on two hits. He threw 49 pitches, 30 for strikes. Jason Alexander followed, allowing a run on three hits in 4 1/3 to get credit for the victory.

Westbrook reached base three more times in the nightcap, but it was not enough to complete the sweep. After the three hits in the opener, Westbrook doubled twice and walked, driving in a run. Chase Meidroth also reached three times, going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk out of the leadoff slot. Nathan Hickey gave Worcester a short-lived 3-2 lead with a three-run homer in the third. Cooper Criswell took the loss, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits in four innings. Luis Guerrero gave up two runs in 1 2/3 frames. 

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Portland was blanked as it managed only six hits, none for extra bases. Kristian Campbell was able to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, going 1 for 3 with a walk. Roman Anthony joined Campbell with a single and walk. Juan Daniel Encarnacion took the loss but was much sharper than in his two previous outings. After surrendering 15 runs in 3 2/3 since his promotion from Greenville, the 23-year-old righty gave up one run on three hits in four innings. 

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Hits were hard to come by at Fluor Field, with the two squads combining for just five knocks on the day. David Sandlin allowed Hickory's only two hits on the day. He surrendered one unearned run in three innings, striking out seven of the 12 batters he faced while walking just one. Jedixson Paez was outstanding in relief, firing four hitless frames, striking out five and walking one. The effort gives Paez 67 strikeouts against just seven walks in 53 1/3 innings across two levels. Isaac Stebens struck out five of the six batters he faced in two no-hit innings to get credit for the win. 

Jhostynxon Garcia blasted a fourth-inning solo homer to knot the game at 1-1. It would stay tied until an Ahbram Liendo sacrifice fly plated Bryan Gonzalez with what proved to be the winning run.

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Noah Dean was outstanding for Salem, leading a charge of four pitchers that combined for 17 strikeouts in a four-hit shutout. Dean went the first five innings, giving up just a fourth-inning single as he walked two and struck out 10. Plagued by control problems much of the year, Dean was able to pound the strike zone, throwing 51 of 82 pitches for strikes. Max Carlson went three scoreless, surrendering two hits, walking two, and striking out five. CJ Weins struck out a pair in the ninth to preserve the shutout. Brooks Brannon led the way at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a triple, stolen base, and RBI. Natanael Yuten was 2 for 4 with an RBI, while Juan Montero added a triple.

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The Sox dropped the opener despite continued excellence out of the leadoff spot from Franklin Arias. The shortstop was 2 for 3 with a hit batsman and his team's lone RBI. Franyer Noria also had a pair of hits, while Andruw Musett doubled for the Sox' only extra-base hit. Yeferson Vargas took the loss, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits in three innings.

Arias was again the star as the FCL Sox earned the split in the "away" portion of the JetBlue twinbill. A two-run homer in the fourth was the highlight of a 3-for-5 performance that also included a double, three runs scored, and three RBI. Noria added two more hits and two RBI, and Kelvin Diaz was 2 for 3 with a walk and three runs scored. That was more than enough support for starter Juan Valera, who went four hitless innings. Valera struck out four, and the only baserunner he surrendered came on a first-inning walk which was immediately erased on a 4-3 double play. Jesus Garcia went the final three innings to get credit for the win. He surrendered two runs on four hits. 

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Thursday's intra-organizational matchup was a one-sided affair, with Team Red outhitting the Blue squad 10 to three and compiling an 18 to five baserunner advantage. Jhoan Peguero and Avinson Pinto led Red's offense. Peguero supplied the power going 2 for 3 with a solo home run, a walk, and two RBI. Pinto was 3 for 4 with a double, walk, three RBI, and two runs. Madinson Frias scattered two hits across four scoreless frames, striking out four without a walk. Yoandrys Veraza got his first professional win in relief, firing three innings, giving up one hit, and striking out five. 

Jose Golindano took the loss for Team Blue, allowing four unearned runs on three hits in two innings, walking four without recording a strikeout.

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Player of the Day: Franklin Arias has been one of the organization's top performers and he continued that effort on Thursday, going 5 for 8 between the two games with nine total bases and four runs driven in. Though his calling card is his defense, Arias now sports an outstanding .347/.448/.633 slash line in with eight extra-base hits in 13 games in June and an overall .286/.415/.476 mark. He is on the precipice of the organizational top-20 rankings, sitting at number 21. 

Photo Credit: Franklin Arias by Kelly O'Connor