PAWTUCKET – Xander Bogaerts wasted little time in making himself feel quite at home in his new surroundings.
All the 20-year-old did in his PawSox debut was a little bit of everything, his efforts going a long way in Pawtucket grabbing both ends of Friday’s doubleheader against Buffalo. The home team won the first game in dramatic 1-0 fashion as Alex Hassan delivered a walk-off hit with two down in the seventh inning.
Bogaerts added a two-run home run in the nightcap that at the time put Pawtucket up, 2-0. Buffalo answered with seven runs in the top of the sixth inning to position themselves to salvage a split. Pawtucket, however, responded with five runs in the last of the seventh to tie the game at 7-7 and send it into extras.
With the game still tied in the last of the ninth, Bogaerts provided Jeremy Hazelbaker with a shot to deliver more walk-off magic for Pawtucket. Bogaerts’ third hit of the day came with two down and helped advance Mitch Maier into scoring position. Hazelbaker helped cap off a three-hour, 18-minute tussle with a single to plate Maier as the PawSox walked off yet again with a win, this time by an 8-7 count.
It was Bogaerts who helped set the stage for Hassan’s first-game heroics. His first Triple-A base hit will go in the books as a slow dribbler down the third-base line, one that he had no trouble beating out. The prized shortstop then stole second base with Hassan standing in the batter’s box.
The last thing anybody wanted was to see the first game of Friday’s twin bill go into extras. Thankfully, Hassan obliged as he sent a 3-2 pitch past diving shortstop Ryan Goins. Playing in his first PawSox game of the 2013 campaign, Hassan finished 2-for-3.
Game 2 featured more Bogaerts, albeit with a completely different twist than his opening-game output. He clobbered a Justin Germano offering for a round tripper that ricocheted off the billboards located behind the left-field berm. The launch job broke up a scoreless game in the fourth, though the Bisons would go on to hang a seven-spot in the sixth
Save for hitting two batters, Game 1 starter Allen Webster stymied the Bisons. The right-hander carried a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before Mike McCoy delivered a soft single. Webster ended up tossing six scoreless innings with six strikeouts and one walk. The two hit batsman brings his season total to 11 in 10 Triple-A starts.
Hassan’s hit helped Chris Martin earn his first victory with the PawSox.
It appeared for the longest time that Bogaerts’ mammoth shot would help ensure a doubleheader sweep for the PawSox. Buffalo continued to trail heading into the sixth. Making his first appearance since June 6, Terry Doyle held the Bisons off the scoreboard through five innings before running into trouble. The first two batters in the sixth reached, setting the stage for Mauro Gomez’ game-tying two-run single into the left-field corner.
The fun was just getting started for the Bisons, who ended up feasting on Chris Hernandez. The lefty followed Doyle and ended up lasting two-thirds of an inning before getting replaced by Anthony Carter. In between, he allowed four runs on three hits while walking three.
It was Pawtucket's turn to post a crooked number in the seventh as Bryce Brentz’ three-run shot cut the Bisons’ lead to one run. The home run was the 12th on the season for Brentz. With the potential tying run on base, Bogaerts took a called third strike for the second out. In what proved to be a harbinger of things to come, Hazelbaker followed Bogaerts with a double down the left field line to tie the game at 7-apiece.
The PawSox took the field Friday with a three-game lead over the second-place Bisons in the North Division. Thanks to the doubleheader sweep, Buffalo will now have to win the final two games of the four-game set in order to get back to trailing first-place Pawtucket by three games in the standings.