Late outburst lifts Salem Red Sox past Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach (54-50, 18-16) got a quick run in the top of the third inning against Salem (61-41, 19-15) starting pitcher Michael Kopech. Daniel Spingola and Tyler Pearson recorded back-to-back hits to open the frame, and a Bryant Flete sacrifice fly handed the Pelicans a 1-0 lead.
Kopech battled in 4.1 innings – he allowed just one run on four hits while striking out five, but tied a career high with five walks. This was the fourth of Kopech’s five starts with Salem that he has walked at least three batters.
Trevor Clifton (5-7) stymied the Red Sox bats through five innings, but Salem broke through in the sixth. Jose Sermo led off with a single and then Deiner Lopez laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance him to second. Reed Gragnani singled to score Sermo and tie the game. Rafael Devers clubbed a laser beam home run over the right field wall to hand the Red Sox a 3-1 lead. It was Devers’ eighth homer of the year and third in his last six games.
Mario Alcantara (9-1) entered for Kopech in the fifth inning, and struck out five batters in 2.2 scoreless innings of relief en route to recording his team-leading ninth win of the season. Simon Mercedes allowed a run in the eighth on a groundout as Myrtle Beach cut the lead to 3-2.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Red Sox blew the game open against Pelicans reliever Craig Brooks. Sermo again got the rally going with a leadoff walk, and Joseph Monge singled. With two outs, Devers was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Nick Longhi lined a two-run single to make the Pelicans pay.
Mike Meyers then launched his league-leading ninth triple of the season to score Devers and Longhi. Myrtle Beach made a call to the bullpen and brought in James Norwood as a rain storm came blowing through the Roanoke Valley. Danny Mars tripled when Charcer Burks lost the ball in the wind and rain as Meyers scored to extend an 8-2 Salem advantage.
The remainder of the game was cancelled when the rain refused to cease its punishment of the playing surface. As a result, Mercedes was credited with his fourth save of the season.
The win was Salem’s 20th come from behind win of the season. The victory also catapulted the Red Sox one half game ahead of the Pelicans for first place in the Carolina League Southern Division second half standings.
The Red Sox take on the Pelicans again Friday night at LewisGale Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm. Salem will send Matt Kent (8-5, 3.50), while Myrtle Beach counters with Preston Morrison (0-0, –). Postgame fireworks will follow the contest on NASCAR Night at LewisGale Field. For tickets and more information, call (540) 389-3333, or slide to www.salemsox.com/tickets.