Kevin McAvoy struck out five over seven one-run innings and the Salem Red Sox scored twice in the bottom of the seventh, powering their way to a 5-2 victory over the Potomac Nationals on Thursday night at LewisGale Field.
Salem struck first in the game thanks to control issues from Potomac starter Austen Williams in the bottom of the second. Jordan Procyshen worked a one out walk, Franklin Guzman singled and Jordan Betts walked to load the bases. Deiner Lopez then earned a free pass, driving in Procyshen to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, McAvoy was dealing. In his seven innings, all but one of the outs recorded came via the strikeout or a putout by the infield. He held the Nationals scoreless until the seventh inning when Brenden Webb worked a walk and stole second base. Stephen Perez later guided a single up the middle, scoring Webb from second to tie the game at one.
The Sox regained the lead in a wild bottom of the seventh. Guzman crushed the first pitch of the inning off the top of the left field wall and appeared to have a leadoff triple. However, the Nationals appealed and threw to second base where it was ruled that Guzman missed the bag and he was called out.
Betts reached on an error charged to Potomac’s Drew Ward in the next at bat, one of three errors committed by Ward. Lopez then bounced a grounder to short that Perez fielded and tossed toward third where Ward wasn’t covering the bag, allowing Betts to slide in safely. Mauricio Dubon followed by slapping an infield single to first, loading the bases.
Wendell Rijo then pulled a single to left, scoring Betts and sending Lopez around third. The throw from Estarlin Martinez pulled Craig Manuel up the line, allowing Lopez to score as Manuel fired to second, catching Rijo in a rundown. Dubon attempted to score from third, but Grant DeBruin quickly threw home and caught Dubon to complete the play. When the dust settled, the Red Sox led 3-1.
Salem added two more in the eighth. Kevin Heller walked and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Procyshen. Guzman later launched a mammoth home run to left, giving the Red Sox a 5-1 lead.
Potomac got one back in the top of the ninth after DeBruin tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly from Webb. However, Kyle Kaminska retired the final couple batters to earn his third save of the year.
McAvoy (10-9) picked up his fifth straight win with only one run allowed on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings, which tied his career-high. Jake Johansen (1-7) was the losing pitcher for Potomac after allowing four runs, three earned, on four hits in two innings.
With the win, Salem improved to 59-70, 21-38 in the second half. Potomac fell to 60-69, 27-32 in the half.
Game two of the series is set for Friday night at 7:05 p.m. in the final Freedom Friday of the season. The first 500 fans will receive a free Jordan Betts poster while Sgt. Slaughter will be in attendance as part of wrestling night. The final fireworks show of the season will follow the contest.
Salem will send Daniel McGrath (2-6, 4.05) to the bump against Matthew Spann (2-6, 4.67). Fans unable to attend can listen to the game on 1240 AM ESPN Roanoke, online at salemsox.com or via the TuneIn Radio app.