Hunter Dozier cleared the bases with a grand slam in the top of the ninth, transforming a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 victory for the visiting Blue Rocks on Tuesday afternoon at LewisGale Field. After stranding nine runners and missing countless opportunities in the first eight innings, Wilmington finally cashed in with Dozier’s blast off Salem’s Austin Maddox, helping the Rocks even the three-game set at one game apiece.
The late home run prevented Pat Light from earning his first carolina league victory. The Red Sox righty departed with a 3-2 lead after five solid innings, giving up only one earned run on four hits. Justin Haley lived dangerously in his time on the hill, but dealt three scoreless out of the pen, aided by a pair of sharply struck line-drive double plays. In the ninth, Maddox emerged to try to close it out, but the righthander surrendered back-to-back singles, walked the next man, and then served up the slam to Dozier.
Earlier in the contest, Salem’s Ryan Dent launched a game-changing two-run homer, vaulting the Sox into a 3-2 lead in the fifth against Miguel Almonte. Dent’s second dinger of the season left Almonte on the hook, but the Blue Rocks starter escaped defeat thanks to the ninth inning rally. Almonte allowed three runs on four hits over his six innings on the mound, striking out five.
Raul A. Mondesi led the Blue Rocks with three hits, including two bunt singles, while Dozier and Johermyn Chavez each finished with two hits apiece, combining to drive in all six Wilmington runs.
Salem second-baseman Reed Gragnani singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth, extending his hitting streak to eight games in a row. Later in the inning, Mario Martinez recorded his second hit of the afternoon, singling up the middle to bring the tying run to the plate. But Leonel Escobar, who collected his first hit of the season earlier in the contest, struck out against Kyle Bartsch to end it, with Bartsch picking up the win for his inning and a third effort.
The Sox and Rocks will square off in the rubber match of the three-game series on Wednesday night at 7:05, with William Cuevas scheduled to pitch against Yender Caramo.