The Salem Red Sox got all the offense they would need in the first two innings and edged out the Wilmington Blue Rocks 4-3 on Saturday night at Frawley Stadium to snap a season-long seven-game losing skid.
For the second straight night, Salem got things started in the first inning. Cole Sturgeon poked a two-out single to left and promptly scored on a Kevin Heller RBI double to right-center, giving Salem a 1-0 lead.
The Red Sox extended the advantage with three more tallies in the second. Forrestt Allday worked a walk to start the frame and scampered home on a double from Jordan Betts. After the next two hitters were retired, Mauricio Dubon plated Betts with a single up the middle before scoring two batters later on a double from Sturgeon.
Staked to a 4-0 lead, Kevin McAvoy retired the first six hitters he faced before running into trouble in the third. Robert Pehl walked on 10 pitches to open the stanza and advanced to second on a single by Logan Moon. Dominique Taylor then roped a double down the left field line, scoring Pehl and cutting the deficit 4-1.
Carlos Garcia followed with a two-run single to right, but that’s as far the Blue Rocks would get. After allowing the first five hitters in the inning to reach, McAvoy battled back to retire three in a row to eliminate further damage.
Wilmington put the tying run on base in every inning the rest of the way, but had its best chance in the fifth. With runners on the corners with nobody down, McAvoy struck out Lopez before inducing a huge 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Mauricio Ramos to end the frame.
McAvoy (9-9) won his fourth straight decision, posting a quality start in the process. The righthander allowed three runs on six hits in six innings to go along with five strikeouts and three walks.
German Taveras and Chandler Shepherd authored three scoreless innings of relief with Shepherd striking out Garcia to end the game and earn his fifth save.
Zach Lovvorn (3-4) started for Wilmington and gave up all four runs on seven hits in five innings on the bump.
The victory snapped a seven-game losing streak for Salem, which improved its record to 56-68 overall, 18-36 in the second half. Wilmington fell to 58-66 overall and 19-35 in the half.
The two teams will square off in a rubber game on Sunday evening at 5:05 p.m. Daniel McGrath (1-6, 4.41) will get the ball for the Red Sox against the Blue Rocks’ Jakob Junis (3-10, 3.70). Fans can listen to the game on 1240 AM ESPN Roanoke, online at salemsox.com or via the TuneIn Radio app.