Salem, Carolina split twinbill
Thrilled to finally return to action after back-to-back rainouts, the Salem Sox raced past Carolina for an 8-6 win in Tuesday’s opener. In the nightcap, however, the Sox ran out of gas and fell 4-1, managing just three hits, a new season-low.
In game one, Salem led 2-zip on Sean Coyle’s two-run bomb just two batters into the game. Jackie Bradley Jr. led off with a line drive double before Coyle unloaded on Mike Rayl’s delivery, depositing his fifth jack of the season over the fence in left. Miguel Celestino dealt a perfect first and struck out the leadoff batter in the second, but Carolina’s Jeremie Tice launched a solo shot to left to slice the gap in half. Jake Lowery followed the homer with a single, scoring two batters later on Anthony Gallas’ RBI knock that tied the score at two. The Mudcats loaded the bases with two outs, but were unable to take the lead as Tony Wolters skied to left to end the threat.
On the cusp of falling behind, the Sox countered and scored five times in the top of the third. Rayl walked a pair and hit another to load the bases with two outs, setting up Michael Almanzar’s two-run double that made it 4-2. Shannon Wilkerson followed by singling home two more runs to lift the Sox to a 6-2 lead, and Wilkerson scurried home on a throwing error by Lowery to complete the five-run frame, surging Salem to a 7-2 cushion.
An unearned run in the top of the fifth gave the Sox a six-run lead, but the Mudcats would not go down quietly. Three straight Carolina hitters reached to begin the fifth, knocking Celestino from the game after the score had been trimmed to 8-4. Marco Duarte entered and immediately was taken deep by Carlos Moncrief, a two-run shot for the Mudcats right fielder, bringing Carolina within two. But Duarte held that advantage through the sixth, allowing Mike Olmsted to enter and earn his seventh save of the season by dealing a scoreless seventh.
Almanzar, Wilkerson, and Adalberto Ibarra all finished 2-for-4, while Wilkerson led the way with three RBI. The win lifted the Sox to 20-14 on the year, six games above .500 for the first time in 2012.
Unfortunately, that record was short-lived, as the Mudcats overcame an early 1-0 deficit in the nightcap to rally for the retaliatory victory. For the 11th time in his last 12 games, Bradley reached safely in the first inning, tripling to open the top of the first against Mudcats starter Dale Dickerson. Three batters later, Almanzar’s infield single brought him home to put Salem on top in the first.
The Mudcat pitchers would hold the Sox to just one more hit after the first inning, though, and Carolina surged in front with a three-run third against Salem starter Brandon Workman. Moncrief drew a two-out walk, stole second, and scored on Jesus Aguilar’s single to center. With the score tied at one, Tice blasted his second homer of the doubleheader, a two-run shot that gave Carolina a lead it would not relinquish. In the last of the sixth, the Mudcats added an unearned insurance tally against reliever Jeremiah Bayer.
J.D. Reichenbach grabbed the victory in game two, permitting just one hit over three scoreless innings of relief for Carolina. Jose Flores matched Olmsted by swiping his seventh save, while Workman suffered his first Carolina League loss, falling to 2-1 on the year.
The Red Sox return to Five County Stadium on Wednesday night for a 7:15 start in game three of the four-game series. Ryan Pressly is slated to start again Carolina’s Will Roberts.