Rocks complete sweep of Salem Red Sox

Whit Merrifield and Matt Field both bashed home runs for the visiting Blue Rocks, who bettered the Red Sox 4-3 on Sunday afternoon to complete the three-game sweep at LewisGale Field.

Salem mounted numerous opportunities to erase the deficit, but stranded nine men on base and failed to cash in with the bases loaded and two outs in the last of the eighth. Brooks Pounders earned the win, allowing just two runs on four hits over five and two-thirds innings, while Miguel Celestino suffered the loss, surrendering four runs on five hits over six innings.

For the second straight day, the Blue Rocks vaulted to a 1-0 lead on the third pitch of the game. On Saturday, Merrifield and Orlando  Calixte used consecutive doubles on the second and third pitches against Brandon Workman, while on Sunday, Merrifield clobbered a 1-1 fastball over the left field fence for a solo homer, his eighth of the season, to lead off the first. But Celestino bounced back, setting down the next nine Blue Rocks he faced through three innings. Meanwhile, Felix Sanchez singled home Sean Coyle, who had been hit by a pitch, in the last of  the third to even the score at one.

In the fourth, Orlando Calixte singled to start the inning, and Cheslor Cuthbert doubled him home to put the Blue Rocks back in front 2-1. Shortly thereafter, Fields belted a laser-beam over the left-field wall for a two-run bomb, pushing the Blue Rocks advantage to 4-1. Salem countered with Xander Bogaerts and Michael Almanzar connecting for back-to-back one-out doubles in the last of the fourth to bring the Sox back within two.

In the last of the eighth, the bases were empty with two outs when Bogaerts and Almanzar both singled against Chase Boruff, who then walked Christian Vazquez to load the bases and walked Coyle to force in a run, making the score 4-3. But with the Sox trailing by one and the bases juiced, Adalberto Ibarra struck out looking to squander the opportunity.

In the ninth, Boruff set down the Sox in order, striking out Shannon Wilkerson and Travis  Shaw to end the game and finish off the series sweep.

Bogaerts and Almanzar led the Sox with two hits apiece, while Calixte and Fields each finished with two knocks for the Rocks.  Pounders improved to 3-3, Celestino fell to 6-6, while Boruff earned his sixth save.

Augusta Health Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press