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The Salem infielder hits a pair of solo home runs as the Sox down Myrtle Beach.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Salem’s Sean Coyle celebrates after hitting a home run against Myrtle Beach in April.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Salem’s Sean Coyle (2) is congratulated in the dugout after his first solo home run against Myrtle Beach in Salem Friday. The second baseman raised his average to .391, going 2 for 4.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
As he jogged around the bases to a standing ovation for the second time, his blast having cut through a stiff crosswind and cleared the wall just right of dead center, Sean Coyle could be certain of one thing:
He won't have to worry about a slow start to this season.
A sizzling Coyle connected for two solo home runs, including the tie-breaking shot in the eighth inning, to lead the Salem Red Sox to a 7-2 victory over Myrtle Beach on Friday in their home opener in front of an announced crowd of 4,042.
Coyle, one of several holdovers from last year's club, raised his average to .391 on the young season. It's a welcome departure from 2012, when he scuffled to a .211 average in the first half as one the youngest players in the Carolina League.
"To start the season off pretty well is something that's pretty big for me," said Coyle, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound second baseman. "I put in all the hard work throughout the season last year and into the offseason and through spring training to hopefully see some things go my way."
Coyle, who signed for $1.3 million as a third-round draft pick out of high school in 2010, impressed the organization with his ability to make adjustments last year. He shook off the early-season woes to bat .297 with an .836 OPS after the all-star break - one of the few Salem players to thrive in a rough second half for the club.
"I thought he did well enough to end the season to warrant some serious consideration for Double-A," Sox manager Billy McMillon said. "As poorly as he started in the first half last year, it was the complete opposite in the second half."
Coyle gained about five pounds this offseason training with his older brother Tommy, a former University of North Carolina infielder who's now in the Rays organization.
After a solid spring, Coyle returned to Salem much more comfortable than the 20-year-old who showed up here last April.
"This year I feel really on par with everybody rather than being the young guy," he said. "I've always been a vocal leader before, but being the younger guy on the team, it's kind of hard to step up and lead guys that are older than you.
"This year I think guys respect me, and I like these guys a lot. That's something that really makes me comfortable, knowing that I can go out and be who I am around my teammates."
Coyle's first homer, a booming shot to left, gave the Sox a 1-0 lead. In the eighth, he drove a 2-0 fastball just to the right of the 401-foot sign in center to break a 2-2 tie. The Sox would add four more runs in the inning - a rally keyed by hits from Garin Cecchini, Keury De La Cruz and David Renfroe.
Sox starter Henry Owens, the most highly rated prospect on the team, allowed four hits and two runs over five innings. The lefty fanned five and walked one, topping out at 94 mph.
"He competes and throws three quality pitches," McMillon said. "For a guy who's only a couple years out of high school, it looks like he has the makings of polish, that he's confident out there and he knows what he's doing.
"Small sample, but so far impressive."
Each member of Salem's $6 million infield - Coyle, Cecchini, Renfroe and Deven Marrero - had at least one hit. De La Cruz went 2 for 4 and scored twice as the Sox opened the home slate on a high after a 2-4 road trip.
"We have a lot of talent floating around our team," Coyle said. "From the guys with the investments to the guys who didn't get as much, we have a talented ball team. With the right leadership, I think we can do some pretty special things this year."
Myrtle Beach Salem
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Sardinas ss 3 0 1 0 Coyle 2b 4 2 2 2
Cantwell c 4 0 0 0 Marrero ss 3 0 1 0
Bolinger rf 4 1 1 0 Cecchini 3b 4 1 1 0
Adams dh 3 1 1 2 Jacobs lf 2 1 0 0
Robinson 3b 4 0 0 0 De La Cruz rf 4 2 2 1
Cone lf 2 0 1 0 Renfroe 1b 3 1 1 2
Grayson pr-lf 2 0 0 0 Ramos cf 3 0 0 0
Skole cf 4 0 0 0 Swihart c 4 0 0 0
Garcia 2b 4 0 0 0 Blair c 0 0 0 0
Torres 1b 2 0 1 0 Garcia dh 3 0 0 0
Totals 32 2 5 2 Totals 30 7 7 5
Myrtle Beach 000 200 000 - 2
Salem 001 100 05X - 7
E - Torres (1), Robinson (3). 2B - Torres (1), Cone (2), Sardinas (1), Marrero (5), Cecchini (3). 3B - Bolinger (1), De La Cruz (1). HR - Adams (1), Coyle 2 (3). SF - Renfroe. SB - Jacobs (1), De La Cruz (1). PO - Cecchini (by Harvey). Team LOB - Myrtle Beach 6, Salem 4.
IP H R ER BB SO
Payano 4 3 2 2 1 5
Harvey 2 2-3 0 0 0 1 2
Mavare L, 0-1 1 1-3 4 5 4 1 2
Owens 5 4 2 2 1 5
Ramirez 2 1 0 0 1 2
Ogando W, 1-0 2 0 0 0 0 2
WP - Mavare 2. HBP - Torres (by Owens), Jacobs (by Mavare).
Umpires - Valentine, Bilinski.
T - 2:33. A - 4,042.
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