Salem rallies again to stun Hillcats
Salem trailed 5-0 on an overcast, drizzly evening, and the winning streak appeared to be in jeopardy. But the resilient Red Sox had overcome a five-run deficit with only four outs remaining against the Hillcats just five days ago.
With seven innings to work with, the Red Sox utilized the time frame by gradually chipping away and rallying for a resounding 8-6 victory to win their fourth in a row and rise above .500 at 6-5 for the year. Every member of the Sox starting lineup gathered at least one hit, as the Sox collected 14 hits to bring the team’s season average to .298. Michael Almanzar went 3-for-4, Jackie Bradley, Jr. went 2-for-3 with three RBI, and six different Sox drove in runs to ignite the comeback.
The early ditch was a result of Lynchburg’s five-run second inning against Salem starter Ryan Pressly. The Sox righthander dealt a perfect first on just nine pitches, but then surrendered five consecutive base hits to start the second. The Hillcats batted around, but Pressly remained composed and avoided a very early exit. The Sox starter dealt scoreless third and fourth innings, completing the fifth as well following Nick Ahmed’s solo homer.
The Sox began to fight back offensively in the last of the third, with Almanzar singling with one out to break up a stretch of seven straight Salem batters retired by Lynchburg’s Gus Schlosser. Shannon Wilkerson tripled to the gap in deep left-center to drive in Almanzar and put Salem on the board. Bradley followed with a sac fly to left, cutting the Lynchburg advantage to 5-2.
Down 6-2 after Ahmed’s homer, Bradley came through again, smacking a two-out, two-run single in the last of the fifth to slice the four-run gap in half. An inning later, Christian Vazquez lifted a sacrifice fly to right field that brought home Travis Shaw, bringing the Sox within a run. And in the bottom of the seventh, after reliever Pete Ruiz wiggled out of a precarious two-on, one-out jam in the top of the frame, Brandon Jacobs pummeled a two-out RBI single to left to score Bradley and even things at six.
In the last of the eighth, Vazquez, Adalberto Ibarra, and Almanzar registered three consecutive singles, with the former scoring on the latter’s grounder up the middle to put the Sox on top 7-6. After a successful double steal from Ibarra and Almanzar, Bradley walked to load the bases and Sean Coyle walked to force in a run.
With an 8-6 lead, Mike Olmsted replaced Ruiz and retired the side in the ninth to preserve the great, comeback win. Olmsted earned his second save, while Ruiz improved to 2-0 with three scoreless innings worked out of the pen. Andrew Wilson, who allowed three runs in an inning and two-thirds, got tagged with the loss for Lynchburg, dropping his mark to 0-1.
Tuesday’s come-from-behind effort was the second time that Salem overcame a five-run gap against Lynchburg, joining last Thursday’s remarkable late-inning rally when the Sox scored the final seven runs to prevail 10-8 in 10 innings at City Stadium. Five days later, the Sox scored eight of the game’s final nine runs to win their fourth straight overall.
The Sox will strive for a three-game sweep of the Hillcats on Wednesday night, with Drake Britton slated to follow Rich Hill, who’s expected to throw one inning for Salem in his third Carolina League rehab appearance. Lynchburg sends Ronan Pacheco to the mound, and he will be the first lefty starter to face Salem this season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.