Salem Red Sox blow 7-0 lead, fall to P-Nats
Potomac used a six-run fifth inning and a three-run sixth to score all of its runs in an improbable 9-8 victory over the Salem Red Sox on Wednesday night at Pfitzner Stadium. Down 7-0 with two outs in the last of the fifth, five straight Nationals reached, culminating with Caleb Ramsey’s grand slam that inched Potomac within one. An inning later, Randolph Oduber launched a game-changing two-run homer, lifting the Nats to an 8-7 lead. When Salem failed to capitalize on its own late opportunities, the Nationals prevailed for the second time in the first three games of the series.
As it turned out, the Red Sox wasted one of their best offensive performances of the year, matching a season-best 15 hits. Blake Swihart reached base four times with three hits and a walk, while Brandon Jacobs mustered three hits. Deven Marrero, Garin Cecchini, and Keury De La Cruz each chipped in two hits apiece, but eight runs would not be enough with the pitching and defensive shortcomings.
In reality, starter Mike McCarthy pitched brilliantly through four scoreless innings. With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, up 7-0, McCarthy surrendered a chopper down the third base line that skipped over the backhanded stab of Jose Garcia. Michael Taylor raced to second with a fortunate double, and Billy Burns scored to put Potomac on the board. One batter later, Jason Martinson hammered a single up the middle to make it 2-0. The inning should have ended on Adrian Nieto’s bullet at first-baseman Dave Renfroe, but the ball skipped off the fielder’s glove, creating an error that extended the inning. A Kevin Keyes infield single prolonged the frame and loaded the bases for Ramsey, who belted his fourth homer of the year, three of which have come against Salem.
The slam chased McCarthy from the action after 90 pitched (59 strikes) over four and two-thirds, with only two of the six runs charged to him being earned tallies. The Nationals surged in front in the sixth against reliever Robby Scott, with Oduber’s two-run blast and Nieto’s sac fly driving in Potomac’s runs.
The Sox snuck back within one in the eighth, receiving two walks and a hit-by-pitch in the inning before Cecchini’s single drove in Sean Coyle. But Garcia was picked off first base after taking a one-out walk, preventing the Sox from evening the score. In the top of the ninth, Jacobs led off with a single and looked to steal second base on a close play. But umpire Brennan Miller called Jacobs out, an even more damaging result after Swihart singled to left one pitch later. With the tying run at first, Henry Ramos grounded into a game-ending 6-3 double play.
Renfroe belted his second home run of the year for the Red Sox in the fourth inning, a two-run launch off Nationals starter Taylor Hil. Salem scored three times in the fourth and four times in the fifth, charging Hill with seven earned runs over his four and a third innings performance. But the comeback prevented Hill from being saddled with the loss. In relief, Greg Holt tossed two and two-thirds to earn the win, while Scott suffered the loss for the Sox.
Salem will shoot for a sweep in the four-game series by sending Mike Augliera to the mound on Thursdayevening against Blake Schwartz, with the first pitch slated for 7:05.