Jonathan Roof and Kevin Heller each recorded three hits and three RBI, Corey Littrell authored his third quality start in five outings, and the Salem Red Sox survived Winston’s late rally to surpass the Dash 11-8 on Monday evening at LewisGale Field. Delayed by rain for 73 minutes at the outset, the Sox were quickly down 2-0 in the top of the first, but then scored nine straight runs and eventually built an 11-3 lead. In the top of the ninth, the Dash had the tying run at the plate with two outs, but Grant Buckner grounded into a fielder’s choice to wrap up the long night at the ballpark.
Littrell struck out seven in six strong innings, permitting three runs on just three hits to earn the win and improve to 2-1. After the Dash plated a pair in the first, Winston did not score again until Jason Coats jacked a solo homer with two outs in the sixth.
The Sox offense took advantage of a Winston miscue to break the seal in the bottom of the first, but it was a big third inning that swayed the momentum to Salem. Down 2-1, Mario Martinez reached on an error to start the third. After the next two hitters made outs, the following six Salem batters reached base. Roof blasted a three-run homer, while Reed Gragnani hammered an RBI triple. Aneury Tavarez also smacked an RBI single to complete the scoring in the third.
Salem added two more in the fourth, with Tim Roberson launching a two-run double to the gap in left-center. Up 8-2, the score became 9-2 when Heller crushed a solo homer to lead off the fifth. Coats’ solo shot in response made it 9-3, but Heller retaliated with a two-run double in the last of the sixth, stretching the lead to eight.
Winston gradually crept back into contention, with one in the seventh, two more in the eighth, and two in the ninth, but the most notable event of the late innings came before the eighth inning began. As Dash outfielder Courtney Hawkins was preparing to lead off, he began jawing with Salem catcher Jayson Hernandez. Hawkins shoved Hernandez and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Travis Godec. The benches and bullpens cleared, but calmer heads prevailed and the emotion fizzled quickly with no one other than Hawkins receiving an early exit.
Roof and Heller led the Sox offense with three hits apiece, including the first homer of the season for each. Coats led Winston with four hits and five RBI, including his first round-tripper of 2014 as well.
The Sox will seek a split of the four-game series on Tuesday night, with Pat Light scheduled to start opposite Tony Bucciferro. First pitch is slated for 7:05.