Miscues cost Sox in finale with Dash
Matt Heidenreich allowed just one run over five and two-thirds innings, and the Sox stranded runners in scoring position in four of the game’s final five innings, missing opportunities that amounted to ten runners left on base on the afternoon. After dropping two out of three, the Sox are now two and a half back of the first-place Dash in the Carolina League’s Southern Division.
Salem’s generally reliable defense suffered an inauspicious start on Sunday, making errors on the first two batted balls in the bottom of the first. Marcus Semien’s grounder to short was booted by Xander Bogaerts, while Carlos Sanchez hard chopper to second was mishandled by Sean Coyle. A walk to Trayce Thompson loaded the bases and Dan Black plated Winston’s first run with an RBI single. Two batters later, the Dash took a 2-0 lead on a fielder’s choice ground-out from Michael Early. Both runs recorded against Salem starter Drake Britton were unearned, but the early deficit dug the Sox into a ditch.
One frame later, Salem dug itself even deeper when Michael Almanzar could not scoop up Miguel Gonzalez’ leadoff grounder to third. Jake Oester doubled, scoring Gonzalez to give the Dash a three-run lead. A sac bunt and sac fly brought Oester around to make it 4-0. Once again, both runs were unearned.
Britton settled down and settled in, firing 57 of his 80 pitches for strikes over five innings, in which he struck out a season-high eight batters and allowed zero earned runs. He walked one and permitted just three hits, but suffered the loss, falling to 1-4.
Xander Bogaerts broke up Heidenreich’s shutout bid with two outs in the sixth, lining an RBI single to right that scored Sean Coyle. One inning later, Winston regained its four-run edge on Semien’s solo homer to left field off Manny Rivera.
Down 5-1, the Sox again crept within three on Brandon Jacobs’ RBI ground-out that plated Travis Shaw, who tripled to start the inning in the top of the eighth. Leroy Hunt emerged to record the final four outs and earn his second save of the weekend, his league-leading seventh of the season. A single and a walk did bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Coyle flew out and Shaw struck out to end the ballgame.
Salem fell despite outhitting Winston 8-4, with Jacobs being the only player on either team to finish with multiple hits.
The Sox will enjoy a day off on Monday before returning to LewisGale Field on Tuesday for the opener of a three-game series against Potomac. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 at Salem Memorial Ballpark.