Bradley Zimmer blasted a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the ninth inning, capping of a six-run frame for the Lynchburg Hillcats as they stunned the Salem Red Sox, 10-6, on Sunday afternoon at LewisGale Field.
Lynchburg trailed 6-4 entering the final frame but quickly tied things up. After Eric Haase worked a leadoff walk against German Taveras, Mike Papi turned on the first pitch he saw and cranked a two-run bomb to right to even the score at six.
The Hillcats then loaded the bases with one out on a pair of singles and a walk. Zimmer hammered the second he pitch he saw over the right-field wall for the go-ahead grand slam, giving the Hillcats a 10-6 lead. Salem had an opportunity to make some noise in the last of the ninth, loading the bases with one out. However, Ben Heller got Tzu-Wei Lin to ground into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Lynchburg also started the contest with a bang when Luigi Rodriguez blasted the first pitch of the game deep to left-center for a leadoff home run. Rodriguez’s league-leading 11th home run gave the Hillcats a 1-0 lead.
The seesaw nature of the affair started early with Salem answering in the bottom half of the frame to tie the game. Lin smacked a ball to the left-center field gap that Rodriguez misplayed and bobbled while attempting to gather it. Clint Frazier picked it up off the bobble and threw wide to third, allowing Lin to score. The double and two errors tied the game at 1-1 after one inning.
Mauricio Dubon gave Salem a 2-1 advantage by scoring Jordan Weems with a sacrifice fly in the second. It remained 2-1 until the fourth inning when Haase clubbed a two-out, two-run homer deep to left field, vaulting the Hillcats back in front, 3-2.
The Sox tied it again in the fifth when Jose Vinicio drove home Dubon on an RBI groundout. The tie was short-lived, though, as Lynchburg answered in the top of the sixth with an RBI single from Haase, scoring Zimmer for a 4-3 advantage. Weems tied the game up at four in the home half with a single scoring Wendell Rijo.
Salem appeared to take the lead for good with two runs in the seventh. Jordan Betts belted a solo shot to leadoff the frame, his fourth homer of the month and the season. The Sox got insurance when Vinicio, who had doubled following Betts, scored on a sac fly from Lin to give the Red Sox a 6-4 advantage. However, Taveras (3-1) blew his first save of the season, allowing his first earned runs since May 20. He gave up six runs on five hits in two innings on the bump.
The Hillcats homered four times, accounting for nine of their 10 tallies. Zimmer was 2-for-4 with a grand slam, three runs scored and four RBI. Haase went 2-for-4 with a homer, three RBI and two runs scored.
Casey Weathers (2-1) picked up the win with 1.1 hitless innings and only a walk and hit-by-pitch against. Heller shut the door for his eighth save, recording two outs on just five pitches.
Teddy Stankiewicz was in line for his third win of the season, but ended up with a no-decision. The righthander lasted seven frames, giving up four runs on six hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Michael Peoples yielded four runs, three earned, in six innings for Lynchburg.
Salem and Lynchburg will continue the three-game series Monday night at 7:05 p.m. Kevin McAvoy (4-6, 4.28) will start for the Sox against D.J. Brown (4-3, 4.95). Fans unable to attend can listen to the game on 1240 AM ESPN Roanoke, online at salemsox.com or via the TuneIn Radio app.