Eight-run second sends Salem Red Sox to win

salem red soxThe Salem Red Sox rode some early offense, including an eight-run second inning, to a big lead and coasted to an 11-7 victory over the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the series opener on Monday night at Frawley Staduim.

Salem (63-43, 20-17) didn’t waste any time in getting the bats going as Jayce Ray drove home Joseph Monge with a two-out single in the top of the first inning. After Ray stole second, he came in to score on a throwing error by second baseman Brian Bien to give the Red Sox a 2-0 edge.

The Blue Rocks (39-67, 12-25) would get an unearned tally in the last of the first on a leadoff error, a sac bunt and an RBI groundout. However, Salem would respond in a big way, plating eight runs in the top of the second to take a commanding 10-1 advantage.

David Sopilka and Deiner Lopez started the rally with a pair of singles before both came home on a Monge double coupled with an error on Wilmington’s rightfielder Elier Hernandez. Reed Gragnani plated Monge with an RBI single before a pair of walks loaded the bases with two away.

Wilmington starter Corey Ray departed after the second walk, giving way to Kyle Kubat. Jordan Betts greeted Kubat with a run-scoring infield single before Jose Sermo provided the biggest blow with an opposite field three-run triple, bringing the score to 9-1. Sopilka capped the rally with his second single of the frame to make it 10-1.

Ray (6-5) was charged with eight of the runs, seven earned, on five hits in 1.2 innings. He walked two and struck out two in his shortest start of the year.

Salem added a run in the fourth on an RBI groundout from Betts before Wilmington started clawing back into the game. A wild pitch from Daniel McGrath in the last of the fourth scored Brandon Downes to make it 11-2. Downes then cranked a grand slam in the last of the fifth to slice the deficit to 11-6. The Blue Rocks would add a final tally in the seventh on a Hernandez triple, but would get no closer than 11-7.

McGrath (5-5) lasted five innings for Salem to earn the win. He allowed six runs, five earned, on eight hits while striking out three and walking three. Bobby Poyner yielded a run on a hit while striking out four in three innings of relief. Simon Mercedes struck out two in a scoreless ninth.

All nine Salem hitters recorded at least one hit with Gragnani, Danny Mars, and Sopilka recording multi-hit games. Eight of the nine starters scored a run in the contest while six Red Sox picked up an RBI, highlighted by Betts driving in a pair and Sermo bringing in three.

The Red Sox look to swipe the middle game of the series on Tuesday at 6:35 pm. Michael Kopech (0-1, 1.61) takes the hill for the Salem against Wilmington’s Andy Ferguson (0-1, 3.52). Follow along with all the action on the Salem Red Sox Baseball Network, with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:15 pm.

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