Salem hangs on to beat Mudcats, 5-4

Envisioning their third shutout of the season when the ninth inning began, the Salem Sox felt fortunate to escape with a slim 5-4 win on Wednesday night at Five County Stadium.

The Mudcats managed nothing against Ryan Pressly or Pete Ruiz, but found an offensive groove in the ninth, batting around and scoring four times against Andrew Jones to push Salem to the brink. With the tying run at third and the winning run at first, Jeremie Tice laced a high line drive to deep right field, but Shannon Wilkerson—Tice’s high school teammate—backpedaled and made the catch to finalize Salem’s one-run triumph.

The wild bottom of the ninth inning overshadowed a masterful performance from Salem starter Ryan Pressly, who became the first Red Sox hurler to deal seven innings in 2012. Pressly tossed 60 of his 87 pitches for strikes, surrendering just four hits over seven scoreless frames. He struck out the side twice and punched out eight without walking anyone to earn his third victory of the season.

Carolina starter Will Roberts, a UVA alum, pitched in and out of trouble through the first three innings before the Red Sox finally broke through in the fourth. Christian Vazquez and Michael Almanzar delivered back-to-back singles, and Vazquez scored from third on a wild pitch to break the scoreless stalemate.

One inning later, three consecutive two-out hits helped the Sox plate a pair to increase the lead to three. Travis Shaw singled to start the rally, and Brandon Jacobs laced a double to wall in right-center to bring Shaw across. Xander Bogaerts then smacked an infield single to short, with the errant throw to first allowing Jacobs to score. An error was charged to Carolina’s Ronny Rodriguez, and Salem led 3-0.

With Pressly continuing to plaster zeroes on the board, Jacobs drove in another run in the seventh to stretch Salem’s advantage to four. Sean Coyle doubled to lead off the frame, coming around on Jacobs third knock of the night. In the top of the ninth, Bogaerts lasered a line-drive single to left-center, bringing home Shaw from second. At the time, it seemed like a meaningless insurance run, but it proved to be the difference.

After Pressly dealt seven scoreless, Ruiz escaped a precarious two-out threat in the eighth, giving Jones the ball with a five-run cushion in the ninth. Jake Lowery led off with a double, advancing to third on Rodrgiuez’ single and scoring on another double from Anthony Gallas. Tyler Cannon’s dribbler to the mound was misplayed by Jones, allowing Rodriguez to score and making it 5-2. Then, Tyler Holt dropped a perfect RBI bunt single to make it 5-3. Jones struck out Tony Wolters and Carlos Moncrief for the first and second outs, but Jesus Aguilar singled to bring home Cannon and advanced Holt to third. With the game hinging on Tice’s bat, his hard liner landed in Wilkerson’s glove, allowing the Sox to prevail by the slimmest of margins.

With Salem’s win and Winston-Salem’s loss, the Red Sox have inched within a half-game of the first-place Dash. Winston sits at 22-15, while Salem resides at 21-15.

The Sox and Mudcats will wrap up their four-game series on Thursday, as Salem sends Matt Barnes to the mound opposite Michael Goodnight. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15.


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