Rocks take down Sox, 5-2
On most days, allowing just three hits in five and two-thirds innings would be considered a very solid outing. But on Thursday night, Salem starter Anthony Ranaudo’s three mistakes all left the yard, propelling Wilmington to a 5-2 victory at LewisGale Field. John Whittleman belted two solo shots and Nick Van Stratten crushed another in support of Blue Rocks starter Elisaul Pimentel, who surrendered seven hits over six and a third innings, but minimized the damage to just two runs to pick up the victory. Miles Head sent a towering solo home run over the wall for his first Carolina League homer, but the Sox offense stalled in key spots as the four-game winning streak came to its end.
Ranaudo retired eight of the first nine batters of the game, but the lone blemish in the early innings came when Whittleman launched a high fly to right to begin the second. Salem evened the score on Jorge Padron’s RBI single in the last of the third, but Whittleman got the best of Ranaudo again in the fourth, belting a deep drive that struck that scoreboard above and beyond the right-center field fence. The second dinger gave Wilmington a 2-1 lead, an edge that would not be relinquished.
Following Whittleman’s second homer, Ranaudo set down the next seven in a row before Nick Van Stratten became the second Blue Rock to record a hit against the 6’7″ righthander. Unfortunately, Van Stratten also launched a round-tripper, clearing the left-field fence to put the Rocks on top 3-1. A two-out walk to Whittleman ended Ranaudo’s day after five and two thirds, with three runs allowed on three hits, three strikeouts, and two walks. Ranaudo absorbed the loss, falling to 1-4 in seven Carolina League starts, though it is worth noting that Salem has scored a grand total of four runs in his four losses.
Head hammered his first Carolina League homer in the last of the sixth, a solo shot that inched the Red Sox back within a run, but the Blue Rocks added single insurance tallies in the eighth and ninth innings to prevail by three. Wilmington’s late offense allowed the Rocks to out-hit Salem 8-7.
The Sox fell despite recording six extra-base hits. Padron and Shannon Wilkerson each tripled, while Wilkerson, Mailman, and Zach Gentile also doubled to complement Head’s homer. The thunder went for nought, though, as Salem could never string together consecutive hits in back-to-back batters. Salem went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left six on base.
Pimentel improved to 5-6, allowing just two runs on seven hits, with six strikeouts and one walk. The Blue Rocks bullpen dominated, with Edgar Garcia retiring five straight and Bryan Paukovitz tossing a perfect ninth to earn his fourth save.
The setback snapped Salem’s four-game winning streak, but the Sox are still 7-3 in the last ten heading into the rubber match with the Blue Rocks. Drake Britton starts on Friday opposite Michael Mariot, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05.