Salem blanks Lynchburg, 5-0

Rich Hill set the tone with a scoreless first and Keith Couch followed with six shutout frames before Ruben Flores slammed the door shut in Salem’s dominating 5-0 victory over Lynchburg on Monday night at LewisGale Field.

The Red Sox scored single runs in five different innings to win their third straight and fourth of their last five games, outhitting the Hillcats 12-4 behind Sean Coyle’s three-hit performance. Salem’s first shutout victory of the season evens the team’s record at 5-5 after a 1-4 start to the year.

Hill’s arsenal was not as sharp as his first Salem start, when he tossed 18 of his 26 pitches for strikes in two scoreless innings against Myrtle Beach, but he still escaped with one solid inning, pitching around a walk and a hit batter in his only frame on the mound on Monday. Hill, a seven-year major league veteran, tossed 15 of his 24 pitches for strikes, striking out a pair and inducing an inning-ending ground-out with two runners aboard in the top of the first.

In the last of the first, Shannon Wilkerson led off with a double and scored three batters later when Travis Shaw’s grounder to short was booted by Nick Ahmed. It was an unearned run that put the Sox in front, and Salem would lead wire to wire.

Couch took the baton in the top of the second and struck out seven in six super innings, permitting just four hits and two walks. The Hillcats only realized multiple baserunners one time against Couch, but the Sox’ righthander induced a 4-6-3 double-play to wiggle out of the jam in the top of the fourth.

Salem added runs in the second, fifth, seventh, and eighth, scoring in five of their eight offensive innings on the evening. Carson Blair’s one out double in the second prefaced Felix Sanchez’ RBI groundout to make it 2-0. In the fifth, Coyle and Brandon Jacobs connected on back-to-back doubles to give the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Travis Shaw celebrated his 22nd birthday by smacking a two-out RBI double in the last of the seventh, lifting Salem to a 4-zip edge. An inning later, James Kang’s sac fly completed Salem’s scoring, with Christian Vazquez scoring to make it 5-0.

Coyle went 3-4, while Jacobs and Vazquez each went 2-4 for the Sox. Every member of the starting lineup recorded at least one hit except for Sanchez, but he contributed an RBI and a stolen base.

After Couch dominated over his six inning stint, Flores emerged and retired six of the seven batters he faced to complete the evening. Flores hit a batter with two outs in the eighth, but struck out the final two batters of the game.

Salem and Lynchburg will meet again on Tuesday, with Ryan Pressly and Gus Schlosser scheduled to be the starters. First pitch is slated for 7:05.


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