Kevin Heller launched a two-run homer in the first inning, but that’s all the offense the Salem Red Sox could muster as they fell to the Lynchburg Hillcats 4-2 on Tuesday night at LewisGale Field.
Heller’s bomb was a line drive shot to deep left-center on a 2-1 pitch against Luis Lugo. For Heller, it was his second home run in three days and his seventh overall this season. It also marked the first time this year that the Red Sox have homered in three straight games.
However, Lynchburg’s potent offense quickly struck back with two runs in the second inning against Trey Ball. After back-to-back walks started the frame, Bobby Ison smacked an RBI double to right field to cut the lead to 2-1. Two batters later, LeVon Washington tied the game on an RBI groundout.
Lynchburg took the lead for good in the top of the fourth. With two on and two down, Washington smacked a two-run single to right field, giving the Hillcats a 4-2 lead and knocking Ball from the game.
Ball (8-13) lasted just 3.2 innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits and three walks. He struck out three, but suffered his fifth straight loss. Kyle Kraus wax phenomenal in relief, tossing 5.1 scoreless frames. He allowed four hits and struck out five.
After the two-run homer in the first inning, Lugo (8-10) settled down and lasted seven frames to earn the win for the Hillcats. The southpaw yielded just two runs on six hits while striking out six. Grant Sides picked up his sixth save of the season by striking out the side after a leadoff walk in the ninth inning.
Heller ended up going 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI for the Red Sox. Mauricio Dubon picked up two hits as well.
The loss snapped Salem’s winning streak at three while sending the Red Sox to 58-69, 20-37 in the second half. Lynchburg improved to 66-62, 33-25 in the half.
The series finishes up with a rubber game on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Teddy Stankiewicz (3-11, 4.09) is scheduled to start for Salem against Lynchburg’s Mitch Brown (9-11, 4.76). Fans unable to attend can listen to the game on 1240 AM ESPN Roanoke, online at salemsox.com or via the TuneIn Radio app.