Alex Hassan. PHOTO BY JILLIAN SOUZA.
PAWTUCKET -- Alex Hassan opened the season a dismal 0-for-17 at the plate before he broke out of the slump with a 3-for-4 outing at Rochester on April 13.
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Slow but sure, his confidence increased, and that was more than obvious on Sunday afternoon.
Hassan finished 3-for-3 with a double, homer, sacrifice fly, two RBI and three runs scored to pace the Pawtucket Red Soxâ 5-4 come-from-behind triumph over the Clippers before 5,516 fans at McCoy Stadium.
His dinger to the left-field berm with one out in the back half of the eighth not only broke a 4-4 deadlock but gave Pawtucket its fifth straight win. It also raised its mark over its last 10 tilts to 9-1.
When asked how his mom would feel about his performance on this Motherâs Day, he said only, âIâm not sure, but I guess sheâs pretty happy.
âI had a bad run to begin the season, but I kept plugging,â he added. âItâs obviously always more fun to get hits. Iâm just trying to keep a good approach every day, every time up.â
Hassan had been hitting just .233 in 90 at-bats with the Pawsox this season, but that average ballooned to .258 after his outing.
With the win, the PawSox upped its overall mark to 25-13, and that leads the Interscholastic League.
âHe had a really good day,â stated manager Arnie Beyeler. âHeâs a guy who runs out every at-bat. He had a little bad luck at the beginning of the season; it took him six-seven games to get a hit, but he kept grinding.
âAlex does things right, and keeps working hard. He gives you a good at-bat every time out.â
Actually, Scott Podsednik, who was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies for cash considerations on Friday night, got off to a great start for his new team. He went 1-for-3 with two RBI.
Beyeler had been queried who his next hero would be when Pawtucket hosts Columbus in the series finale today at 12:05, and he just said, âI donât know. All the guys have been working hard. Look at Podsednik. We get him in a trade and he comes in here, gets an RBI hit and makes few catches in the outfield.
âHeâs been playing (in Lehigh Valley), so itâs not like he hasnât; he had a good day, too.â
With the defeat, Columbus not only fell to 17-19 overall, but also dropped its third straight to the PawSox (a 5-1 win on Friday night and 7-6 come-from-behind verdict on Saturday evening).
Pawtucket now has captured its last three against the Clippers after losing a trio in Ohio two weeks ago.
Alex Wilson, who relieved Clayton Mortensen in the eighth, snared the win, allowing one hit and a walk while striking out two in his lone frame. Righty Mark Melancon earned his fourth save on the spring after hurling a flawless ninth.
Righty reliever Cody Allen, who gave up the blast to Hassan, a native of Quincy, took the loss, and is now 1-1.
The Clippers, though, got on the board in the first when Andy LaRoche drilled a one-out single to left, then moved to third when starter Ross Ohlendorf hit both Cord Phelps and Chad Huffman. Beau Millsâ sacrifice fly to left plated LaRoche.
Pawtucket knotted the score at 1-1 in the back half of the second when Alex Hassan ripped a double to the left-center gap, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on Alex Hassanâs sacrifice fly to center.
After retiring the next seven Columbus hitters, Ohlendorf got himself into more trouble in the fourth. Huffman drilled a double down the left-field line, then took third when Mills was hit by a pitch.
Russ Canzler then bashed a three-run homer over the fence in center to cushion the Clippersâ lead to 4-1.
Ohlendorf yielded another hit in the fifth, and â for the day â allowed five hits and four runs (all earned). He didnât walk a batter and fanned two in his five-frame stint. He also hit a trio of batters, throwing only 43 strikes on 70 deliveries.
The PawSox tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth, Anderson punching his 11th double to the right-center hole, tagging to third on Josh Kroegerâs flyout to center and trotting home on Hassanâs sacrifice fly to right.
It seemed the hometowners would cut into the Clippersâ 4-2 advantage in the fifth. With two down, No. 9 batter Nate Spears walked and reached third when Pedro Ciriaco whacked a long single down the left-field line.
Righty starter Kevin Slowey, however, got Jose Iglesias to fly out to first to squelch the threat.
Pawtucket did get to Slowey in the sixth. Anderson drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on Hassanâs one-out hit to left and took third on Che-Hsuan Leeâs ground single to right.
With the bags juiced, Scott Podsednik greeted reliever Frank Herrmann with a base hit to right to plate Anderson, and Mike Rivera followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score Hassan and tie the contest at 4-4.
Slowey lasted 5 1/3, yielding five hits, four runs (three earned) and issued three walks while fanning one.
In the series finale today, righty Justin Germano (4-1, 2.29 ERA) will take on Columbusâ Eric Berger. Pawtucket then will take to the road for a four-game set at Durham.