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 Motherâ€™s Day, he said only, â€śIâ€™m not sure, but I guess sheâ€™s pretty happy.
â€śI had a bad run to begin the season, but I kept plugging,â€ť he added. â€śItâ€™s obviously always more fun to get hits. Iâ€™m just trying to keep a good approach every day, every time up.â€ť
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.
â€śHe had a really good day,â€ť stated manager Arnie Beyeler. â€śHeâ€™s 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.
â€śAlex does things right, and keeps working hard. He gives you a good at-bat every time out.â€ť
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, â€śI donâ€™t 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.
â€śHeâ€™s been playing (in Lehigh Valley), so itâ€™s not like he hasnâ€™t; he had a good day, too.â€ť
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 Hassanâ€™s 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 didnâ€™t 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 Kroegerâ€™s flyout to center and trotting home on Hassanâ€™s 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 Hassanâ€™s one-out hit to left and took third on Che-Hsuan Leeâ€™s 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.