Sox dig longball, but fall short against Rocks
Jackie Bradley Jr., Michael Almanzar, and Xander Bogaerts all clubbed solo homers, but Wilmington used a quirky four-run rally in the last of the sixth to break a 3-3 tie, holding off Salem late to win for the second straight night. Geulin Beltre finished with four hits to lead the Blue Rocks, who have scored 17 runs in the last two games against Salem after averaging less than three and a half runs per game for the season entering the series.
Bradley’s first Carolina League bomb led off the top of the first inning and vaulted the Sox to a quick 1-0 advantage. One frame later, Almanzar pounded his second dinger of the year to double the lead. Wilmington rallied for three two-out tallies against Miguel Celestino in the last of the third to take a 3-2 advantage, but Bogaerts smashed a two-out moonshot in the top of the sixth, his third of the season, lifting Salem into a three-all tie.
In the last of the sixth, the Blue Rocks somehow scored four times even though the ball left the infield just once. It began with Beltre’s bunt single, and Kevin David ripped an RBI double into the left-field corner to give Wilmington a 4-3 lead. Reliever Manny Rivera retired the next two Rocks in order before walking Whit Merrifield. With the baserunners at the corners, Merrifield bolted for second, and the tardy throw from the Sox backstop allowed David to sprint home, completing a successful first and third double steal to make it 5-3. Two more infield singles and a Sean Coyle throwing error later, the Rocks led by four.
But Salem was not done, answering with a pair in the top of the seventh. With two outs and the bases empty, Coyle appeared to belt his third homer of the season, but umpire Jansen Visconti ruled that the ball never cleared the wall and after fruitless arguments ensued, Coyle was stuck with a double. Justice prevailed when Travis Shaw doubled down the left field line a batter later, scoring Coyle anyway to make it 7-4. Brandon Jacobs followed Shaw with an RBI single, inching the Sox back within two. Unfortunately, Salem stranded runners at the corners for the third straight inning and missed its best opportunity to close the gap further.
Wilmington scrapped a pair of unearned runs against Marco Duarte in the eighth and won its second straight over Salem. Blue Rocks starter Sugar Ray Marimon earned the win, allowing three runs on six hits over six innings, while Rivera took the loss for the Sox, surrendering four runs (three earned) over three innings of relief. Celestino tossed the first four for Salem, allowing three runs on five hits and receiving a no-decision.
At 12-11, Salem hopes to stay above .500 on Wednesday when the Sox and Rocks meet for game three of the four-game set at Frawley Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35, with Brandon Workman slated to oppose Tyler Sample.