Kinston scores three in the ninth to knock off Salem

The K-Tribe scored two in the seventh to tie it, then plated three more in the ninth to take their first lead en route to a 5-2 victory on Thursday night at LewisGale Field. Salem had jumped to a 2-0 lead after six thanks to the steady pitching from Drake Britton and Tom Ebert, but the Indians delivered a late surge to continue their winning ways, garnering their 25th win in the last 34 games.

The Salem Sox assumed on early edge thanks to a thunderous swing from Kolbrin Vitek, who blasted his first Carolina League home run in the first inning off Kinston starter Marty Popham. The monstrous fly that easily cleared the wall in left-center gave Salem a 1-0 lead, but the Red Sox failed to muster another extra-base hit in the ballgame.

Salem did out-hit Kinston 8-6, but the Sox left seven aboard, stranding five in scoring position and losing another man on a play at the plate. Michael Almanzar singled home Dan Butler with two outs in the fourth to double Salem’s lead, but the Sox would be unable to provide any more offense down the stretch.

The Indians offense, on the other hand, awakened when it mattered. Drake Britton tossed two scoreless in a starting role and Tom Ebert blanked Kinston for four innings out of the pen, with each pitcher allowing just one hit. In the seventh, however, Roberto Perez and Tyler Cannon began the frame with consecutive singles against Mitch Herold. A sacrifice bunt from Tyler Holt moved both men into scoring position, and the Indians brought both of them across on a wild pitch and an RBI single from Casey Frawley.

In the ninth, Herold struck out the leadoff man but then walked three in a row, the third of which coming as an intentional pass following a passed ball that moved the runners forward. Anthony Gallas grounded into a 3-2 fielder’s choice against new pitcher Michael Gleason, but Jeremie Tice walked to force in a run and give the Indians a 3-2 lead. Adam Abraham delivered a crucial insurance knock by driving in two via his single to left.

Salem threatened with two outs in the ninth, bringing the tying man to the plate following a Zach Gentile single and Michael Almanzar walk, but Derrik Gibson chopped to the mound to end the game, handing the Sox their 32nd loss in the last 43 games.

Vitek, Butler, and Gentile all went 2-4 for the Red Sox to lead the squad offensively, while Frawley was the only Indian with multiple hits. Kyle Landis tossed a scoreless eighth inning to earn the win, improving to 2-0, while Herold was charged with five runs in two and a third, suffering his first blown save and his second loss. Kinston closer Preston Guilment dealt a scoreless ninth to earn his 17th save.

The Sox and Indians reunite on Friday evening at LewisGale Field, with Pete Ruiz scheduled to start for Salem opposite Brett Brach. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.

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