Big fifth inning dooms Salem Red Sox

salem red soxMyrtle Beach registered seven runs on five hits, two walks, and one error in the top of the fifth, more than enough offense to pave the way to a 7-1 Pelicans victory over the Salem Sox on Saturday night at LewisGale Field. Both starters, Kyle Stroup and Jerad Eickhoff, dominated through the first four frames, and the game was scoreless into the fifth. But five straight Pelicans reached to start the fifth against Stroup, chasing him from the game with two runs in and the bases loaded. Mike McCarthy retired the first batter he faced, but then yielded a two-run double, a run-scoring wild pitch, and a two-run homer to Trever Adams that made it 7-0 at the midway point.

Six days after getting tagged for seven runs in two innings in his Carolina League debut, Eickhoff bounced back beautifully by tossing five scoreless innings, permitting just three hits and two walks while striking out five. The Red Sox scored once against Randol Rojas in the last of the seventh to break up the shutout, but otherwise came up empty against Rojas and Jon Edwards, who each tossed a pair of innings to preserve the victory.

Stroup needed just 52 pitches (35 strikes) to make it through four innings, allowing just one hit in his first four trips to the mound. But the performance unraveled in the fifth, with Stroup walking a pair and giving up three singles. He also committed a throwing error on a bunt single, whipping the ball the left field line trying to gun down the lead runner at third. He suffered the loss, officially allowing five runs on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts.

Adams and Rougned Odor led Myrtle Beach with two RBI each, while seven different Pelicans scored one run apiece. The only two multi-hit performances in the game came from Salem’s bottom of the order, with Blake Swihart and Carson Blair each going 2-for-3 with a walk from the seven and eight slots in the batting order, respectively. Swihart also gunned down another attempted basestealer, continuing a trend of great control of the running game. Swihart and Blair have both nabbed three-out-of-four basestealers, a remarkable 75% clip through eight games.

Sean Coyle reached on an error and drove in a run, but the Salem second-baseman went 0-for-5 to snap his six-game hitting streak. With the bases loaded in the ninth, Coyle struck out against Edwards. Nick Natoli then flew to right to end the game and strand the bags packed, three of the ten runners left on base by the Sox on the night.

The Sox and Birds will square off in the series’ rubber match on Sunday afternoon, with the first pitch scheduled for 4:05. The pitching matchup features Mike Augliera going for his second win opposite Alec Asher.

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