Red Sox end drought, win Mills Cup
On July 30, the Salem Red Sox had a losing record and were on the outside of the Carolina League playoffs. Less than two months later, they're champions.
Sean Coyle doubled twice and plated four runs on Tuesday night as Salem beat Potomac, 6-4, to complete a three-game sweep of the Mills Cup Finals and secure their first championship in 12 years.
Coyle put the Red Sox ahead for good with a two-out, two-run double in the second inning. He duplicated the feat in a four-run fourth that stretched the lead to 6-1.
"Everybody was just staying within themselves and it just so happened that I got a couple of good pitches to hit and I hit them pretty well," Coyle said. "The guys in front of me were on base and it turned out they ended up scoring."
Coyle was named MVP of the best-of-5 Finals after batting .417 with three doubles and seven RBIs. The 21-year-old second baseman missed the first round of the playoffs due to elbow problems.
"It was great to win the MVP, but the only thing that really matters is that we're all going to get a ring as a team," said Coyle, the Red Sox's third-round pick in the 2010 Draft. "Playing for this team has been the most fun I've ever had playing baseball. We've got a whole bunch of great guys here. I'm just happy I could come off the bench and be activated and finally contribute to the team and help them win.
"I was having some soreness in my elbow, so they deactivated me for the first series. [Trainer] Dave Herrera did a great job of executing all the stuff in the training room and helping me get healthy. I'm just thankful that our training staff was willing to work with me and get me back on the field."
Salem went 30-8 down the stretch and reeled off 11 straight wins en route to an unbeaten postseason.
"I came back to the clubhouse after being on the DL and we were in the playoff hunt," Coyle said. "Everybody had their eyes on the prize, that one goal was the league championship. I've never seen a team so hungry for it. Every day we gave it all we had and just let the chips fall where they may."
It's the franchise first championship since 2001, when it was known as the Salem Avalanche and was a Rockies affiliate. It's been part of the Red Sox system since the 2009 season.
"It's unbelievable," Coyle said. "The support we've received from the fan base is great. So many people came out to the game, so many people cheered us on. It was truly special, not only to the team but the entire city. It's just been a great experience."
William Cuevas (1-0) got the series-clinching win after giving up three runs -- two earned -- on six hits over six innings. Mike McCarthy allowed a run on two hits in the seventh and Matt Price pitched around two hits over the final two innings to notch his first playoff save.
Adrian Nieto doubled, singled and plated three runs for the Nationals, who came up short in a bid for their second championship in four years.
Robert Emrich is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich.