Roenis Elias made history in Wednesday’s matinee at McCoy Stadium. The lefthander became the first Pawtucket Red Sox pitcher in the 21st century to record at least 13 strikeouts in a game, leading his team to a 3-2 victory in the series finale with the Norfolk Tides.
Elias (1-3) did not allow more than one baserunner in any of his first seven innings on the mound. He allowed just five hits in 7.2 innings pitched, fanning 13 Norfolk batters, the highest single-game strikeout total of his professional career.
“I’ve worked with pitching coach [Bob Kipper] a lot,” Elias said through his teammate William Cuevas. “I’m really happy that I threw strikes and didn’t walk anybody because that’s what I was working on.”
Elias became the eighth pitcher in Pawtucket history to strike out at least 13 in a game and the first to do so since Jin Ho Cho fanned 15 in a game in 1999.
“He was aggressive to the zone and had great fastball command,” said manager Kevin Boles. “Terrific mix of pitches, he threw strikes and was very efficient—just a terrific performance today.”
Elias’ dominance helped the PawSox (20-20) take the series from the Tides (14-27) and complete a 4-2 homestand, Pawtucket’s first winning homestand of 2016.
For good measure, Anthony Varvaro retired all four batters he faced, including three strikeouts, to earn his first save of the season.
PawSox pitchers struck out an astounding 41 batters over the three-game series. Joe Kelly also recorded a double-digit strikeout performance on Monday.
Pawtucket took an early lead in the second inning against Norfolk starter David Hale (0-1).
Chris Marrero led off the frame with a home run into the PawSox bullpen, his International League-leading fifth home run in May. Marrero’s seven home runs this season are tied for the third most in the league.
Later in the second inning, Bryce Brentz doubled to left with one out and Deven Marrero drove him in with a two-out single.
Hale settled down and did not allow a hit until the final batter he faced, Chris Marrero, got him again for a hustle-double into right field.
Meanwhile, Michael Almanzar recorded the only hit of the first three innings against Elias—a solo home run (3) to left with two outs in the third that cut Pawtucket’s lead to 2-1.
The PawSox added an insurance run on a wild play after singles by Brentz and Leon placed runners on the corners with one out in the seventh inning. Mike Miller attempted a squeeze bunt but popped it up in foul ground. First baseman Trey Mancini made a running catch but as he tried to complete a double play by firing to third base, his throw hit the baserunner Brentz and trickled into foul territory. Brentz scampered home on the play to extend Pawtucket’s lead to 3-1.
In the eighth inning, Sharlon Schoop hammered a solo home run (3) off Elias over the PawSox bullpen to cut the deficit to one again before Varvaro came in to shut the door.
The PawSox head back on the road to open a four-game series in Buffalo, beginning tomorrow at 6:05 p.m. Radio coverage begins on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the Pawtucket Red Sox radio network at 5:35 p.m.
The PawSox return to McCoy Stadium on Tuesday to open up a six-game home stand against Lehigh Valley and Indianapolis. Good seats for the entire homestand are still available at the McCoy Stadium box office, by calling (401) 724-7300 or by visiting pawsox.com.
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