Salem Red Sox edge Lynchburg Hillcats in extras

salem red soxThe Salem Red Sox struck out 19 batters in a 12-inning, 5-4 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats Sunday afternoon at Calvin Falwell Field at Lynchburg City Stadium. Position player Jordan Betts earned his first professional save to cap the game off.

The Red Sox (87-51, 44-25) took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning against Lynchburg starter Brock Hartson. Joseph Monge and Luis Basabe collected back-to-back singles to open the frame, and a Nick Longhi sacrifice fly plated the first run of the game.

The Hillcats (83-56, 38-31) struck back against Salem lefty Matt Kent in the bottom of the third, plating a pair of runs on a Claudio Bautista double and an Anthony Santander single to take a 2-1 lead.

The turbulent third did not spoil a splendid start for the southpaw. Kent struck out a career-high 10 in 6.0 innings, allowing just two runs on six hits. His season-long ERA finished at 3.69, currently the third-best mark in the circuit.

Salem rallied to tie the game at two in the top of the fifth, when Betts led off with a double and scored on a two-out triple from Deiner Lopez.

In the top of the eighth against reliever Jared Robinson, Jose Sermo doubled to left field, driving home Lopez to break the tie and advance Joseph Monge to third. After an intentional walk to Longhi loaded the bases with one out, a passed ball from Sicnarf Loopstok plated Monge to give Salem a 4-2 lead.

Jake Cosart tossed a perfect seventh inning out of the bullpen, but ran into trouble in the eighth. He walked Santander and Bobby Bradley starting off the frame, both of whom scored on a Dorssys Paulino double to tie the game at four.

Cosart walked Claudio Bautista to start the bottom of the ninth and was removed for Simon Mercedes. Bautista stole second and advanced to third on a bunt single from Yonathan Mendoza. With the infield in, Tyler Krieger hit a grounder to Sermo at second base, who threw home to cut down Bautista for the first out. Mercedes then struck out Santander and Bradley back-to-back to end the inning and send the game to extra frames.

The Red Sox had an opportunity in the top of the 10th when Luis Basabe reached third base with no outs, but Salem could not score thanks to an inning-ending fly ball double play where Basabe was cut down trying to score Paulino in left field.

Loopstok began the bottom of the 11th with a double against Mercedes (5-2), but the righty retired the next three batters to neutralize the threat.

In the top of the 12th, Sermo laced a single to left-center off reliever Matt Whitehouse (3-4) to score Basabe, who used a nifty slide to evade a Loopstok tag and give Salem a 5-4 advantage.

Betts moved from third base to the pitcher’s mound in the bottom of the 12th and retired the Hillcats without allowing a hit to earn his first career save. With the tying run at second base, Betts struck out Taylor Murphy to end the improbable victory. The Red Sox set a new season high with 19 strikeouts in the contest,.

With the win, Salem tied a franchise record for most wins in a single season originally set by the 1974 Salem Pirates. The victory was the club’s 24th last at-bat triumph of the season, 12 of which have come in extra innings.

Salem finishes the regular season schedule with a Labor Day skirmish Monday afternoon at Lynchburg. First pitch is scheduled for 2 pm. The Red Sox have not yet announced a starter, while the Hillcats will go with Thomas Pannone (2-0, 1.96). Follow along with all the coverage on the Salem Red Sox Baseball Network, with pre-game coverage beginning at 1:45 pm.

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