Tag: Pawtucket Red Sox

Willwerth: What A Lost Minor League Baseball Season Means To Me

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McCoy Stadium will not be hosting the final season of the Pawtucket Red Sox

By Brian Willerth

So, it’s official: there will be no Minor League Baseball this summer due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a tremendous loss, not just for the teams, but for families who say it’s an affordable way to spend a night out.

But there’s more to this cancelation for one team in New England: it also means the end of the Pawtucket Red Sox. The team will be playing games next season in Worcester.

The PawSox are celebrating their 50th anniversary this summer. It will be marked by the season that never happened. Fans won’t even get the chance to take in one last home game. Can you just picture what the final regular-season home game would’ve looked like?

I’ve been to several minor league stadiums over the years, and McCoy Stadium was always at the top of my list.

The tickets, both at McCoy Stadium and other places, were (and have been) cheap. And so is the food, along with the parking, which is usually free.

You could go down to McCoy Stadium and spend less than $20 on everything. And there wasn’t a bad seat in the house.

I remember going to games on Saturday nights for a ballgame and fireworks, spending Sunday afternoons in the sun, and even the occasional weekday 12:05 first pitch.

I hadn’t been there in several years due to changes in my work schedule, but what made McCoy Stadium special to me, was that the gameday experience was about the game.  That was the focus. You knew when you watched players play, you knew they were busting their butts, hoping to make it to the majors.  And yes, you can say that at every minor league ballpark, but the atmosphere at McCoy just felt special to me.

I wish Worcester good luck when the AAA affiliate moves there officially next season, and hopefully, they will be able to play next year. But to me, they will always be the PawSox. And I will miss McCoy stadium, still, home to the longest baseball game ever played.

A Closer Look At Alex Hassan (PawSox)

Alex Hassan recorded four hits and two RBIs on Monday for the PawSox! (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By Brian Willwerth 

Alex Hassan is starting to heat up down on the farm for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

The Quincy native is riding a modest five-game hitting streak. He broke out for four hits, including two RBI doubles, in an 11-8 loss to Gwinnett on Monday night at McCoy Stadium. Over that span, he’s 9-for-22 (.409) with 6 RBI. He’s batting a torrid .393 so far in June.

Hassan is in his first full year with Pawtucket, having spent 2011 with the Portland Sea Dogs. In 53 games with the PawSox he’s batting .263 with five home runs, and 32 RBIs. The 32 RBIs are good for the third on the team, behind Mauro Gomez and Lars Anderson.

Hassan played his high school ball at BC High, then went on to Durham, North Carolina to star at Duke. He was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 2009 draft.

A Day in Allentown with the IronPigs and PawSox

By Andy Lindberg

A mid-summer road trip was in order, so I marched down to Allentown, PA and to see the jewel of Minor League Baseball: Coca-Cola Park.  It didn’t hurt that the International League’s Northern Division leaders in Lehigh Valley were facing off against second-place Pawtucket in the midst of a four game set.

On Thursday, Scott Atchison pitched a scoreless seventh inning to pick up his fifth win for Pawtucket and Lars Anderson went 2-3 and scored the winning run in the eighth, besting the division-leading IronPigs 2-1.  Brandon Moss hit his 19th homer of the year for Lehigh Valley’s lone run during a fantastic game of baseball.

The IronPigs had taken the first two games of the series, the second of which came behind the arm of a rehabbing Roy Oswalt, a member of the famed “Philly Phoursome” featuring Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels.  On Thursday, Scott Mathieson took the hill for the IronPigs, where he is being stretched out to return to his role as a starting pitcher.  The Pawtucket Red Sox countered with right-hander Matt Fox, who had struggled mightily of late, giving up 22 runs in his four previous starts.

Mathieson struggled early with his command, especially of his fastball, which flew at a blistering 96 MPH on the radar gun, walking two in the first two innings and allowing the leadoff walk to score on a Chen-Hsuan Lin single up the middle in the second inning.  Nursing a 1-0 lead, Pawtucket starter Fox went into the seventh inning having only allowed one hit.  However former Red Sox outfielder Brandon Moss tattooed the first pitch he saw from Fox and launched it over the center field wall to knot the game at one apiece.  After walking Delwyn Young and with nobody out, Fox was replaced by Atchison, who got out of the inning without any further damage.

Lehigh Valley’s Mathieson was finished after six and gave way to recent acquisition Aaron Heilman.

“Mathieson did a nice job battling out there,” said IronPigs manager Ryne Sandberg.  “It was good to see him make adjustments.  It wasn’t his best command yet, but he had a couple of one-pitch outs.”

Mathieson began to struggle with his control in the later innings but transitioned from his fastball to a sharp breaking ball, in which he displayed incredible confidence.

“His mentality is a power pitcher,” said Sandberg.  “He rears back nearly every pitch.  Guys don’t put contact on a lot of balls [against Mathieson].”

With Justin De Fratus on the hill for Lehigh Valley in the eighth, Lars Anderson ripped a double to the gap in right-center field.  After walking Pawtucket third baseman Hector Luna, De Fratus induced a crucial 4-6-3 double play from second-baseman Nate Spears.  However the leadoff double proved to be costly, as Anderson, residing at third after the double play, sprinted home to score on a wild pitch by De Fratus.

Former Boston All-Star Hideki Okajima pitched a perfect eighth inning for Pawtucket, striking out two, and Michael Bowden came in to notch his 13th save of the year, but not after a scare to end the game.  With IronPigs designated hitter Delwyn Young on first base after singling to begin the inning, IronPigs first baseman Tagg Bozied came up to bat with two outs in the inning.  Bozied cranked a 0-2 Bowden offering deep to left-center, but Lin got back to the warning track in time to haul it in for the final out.

“He put a good swing on it,” said De Fratus, who took the loss to fall to 2-1.  “I thought it had a chance.  I would have liked to have seen it go out.”

[Bozied] had a good approach to try to win us the game,” said Sandberg.  “He had the right idea to try to give us a chance, and I told him that after the at-bat.”

However the IronPigs did not leave disheartened, as they have won five of their last six games.  On Friday the 62-44 IronPigs will try to win the series over 59-47 Pawtucket in the fourth and final game heading into a two-game series with Buffalo.

Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco also had an eventful day even though the box score may not reflect it.  On the disabled list since July 5 with lower back inflammation, Polanco was finally able to play without significant pain.

“The last time I felt pain was about one and a half months ago,” said Polanco.  “I feel happy.  I feel like I can do this.”

Polanco grounded out twice to second base followed by walking in the sixth inning and was promptly lifted for a pinch hitter.

“I haven’t played in 20 some days, they don’t want to push it too much.”

When asked about hitting, Polanco was prompt.  “I made contact,” said Polanco.  “I was a little bit off.  My timing was OK.  I felt fine.”

Polanco is due to play a full nine-inning game for the IronPigs on Friday.  If all goes well Polanco should be back in Philadelphia by Saturday.

Paw Sox Honor Longest Game with a 3-2 Win against Syracuse

Umpire Dave Koza (left) and Denny Craig (right) were honored prior to the start of the game.

By Brian Willwerth 

PAWTUCKET, RI – On Monday night at McCoy Stadium, the Pawtucket Red Sox played a regular, nine-inning baseball game.  30 years ago that night, the PawSox played a game that lasted longer – much longer.

The team marked the 30th anniversary of the longest game ever played in professional baseball.

In 1981, the PawSox and Rochester Red Wings started a game that would last 33 innings, and wouldn’t even be completed until June 23rd. The home team eventually pulled out a 3-2 win.

During a special pre-game ceremony, the team honored two men who were there for that historic moment.  Denny Craig was the home-plate umpire on that night 30 years ago.  Monday night, he was back behind the plate again, waiting for a ceremonial first pitch thrown by Dave Koza.  It was Koza’s single in the 33rd inning that finally ended the epic clash.  Craig and Koza received a warm reception from the crowd of 5,350 – considerably larger than the number of people who attended that fateful night back in 1981, (a sellout crowd attended the conclusion of the game.)

Of course, there was a game to be played Monday night.  The PawSox earned their fourth straight victory, a 4-1 win over the Syracuse Chiefs.  Pawtucket got a strong outing from Matt Fox, who pitched six strong innings.  He only allowed one run – a long home run by Corey Brown over the centerfield wall in the second.  But that would be the Chiefs’ only run – and lead – of the night.

The PawSox came right back in the bottom of the inning with a pair of runs, highlighted by a tremendous home run to left off the bat of Tony Thomas.  The home team added three more runs in the third, two of them coming on Josh Reddick’s second home run of the season. After three innings, the PawSox held a 5-1 lead.

The scoreboard for the rest of the night would feature nothing but a bunch of zeros.  It was eerily similar to that night back in 1981 when there were many more goose eggs on the board.  But instead of ending two months later, the final out of Monday night’s game was recorded around the reasonable hour of 9 p.m.