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Salem Red Sox even series with Lynchburg Hillcats

salem red soxThe Salem Red Sox scored at least once in six of the first seven innings on Saturday night, cruising to a 7-2 victory over Lynchburg to even up the three-game series at one apiece.

Garin Cecchini reached base multiple times for the ninth straight game, recording two triples, a walk, a stolen base, two runs scored, and three RBI to lead the Red Sox offense. Sean Coyle also contributed his third home run in his last four games, a sixth-inning solo blast that helped the Red Sox pull away. Cecchini and Coyle were two of the five Red Sox that finished with multiple hits, as Keury De La Cruz, Blake Swihart, and Henry Ramos each went 2-for-4.

On the mound, Mike McCarthy dealt five strong innings and two relievers each tossed a pair of scoreless frames to limit the Lynchburg offense. McCarthy struck out the side in the first and fanned seven overall, permitting two runs on six hits with one walk. In relief, Noe Ramirez induced double plays to end both the sixth and seventh innings, while Nate Striz retired all six batters he faced, striking out three, to preserve the victory.

The bats were in gear early, with Sean Coyle singling to lead off the first against Hillcats starter Navery Moore. Coyle stole second, moved to third on Nick Natoli’s grounder, and scored on Cecchini’s bouncer to second to give the Sox a 1-0 lead. In the second, De La Cruz led off with a double, and he crossed home plate two batters later when Swihart punched an RBI double to deep right field. With a 2-0 lead, the Sox added to their advantage in the third, with Coyle’s leadoff walk prefacing Natoli’s 5-4 fielder’s choice. Cecchini then ripped the first of his two RBI triples down the right-field line to make it 3-zip.

The Hillcats finally broke through against McCarthy in the fourth, with David Rohm smashing a two-run, two-out triple to the right-center field gap, bringing home Robby Hefflinger and Kyle Kubitza to inch Lynchburg within a run. The tying run was at third for Matt Lipka, and on the second pitch, the ball bounced away from Swihart at the plate. Rohm raced toward the plate, but Swihart recovered quickly and flipped the ball to the covering pitcher McCarthy, who tagged out Rohm at home to end the inning and keep the lead.

Although the Sox would not score in the fifth, Salem regained its three-run edge in the fifth thanks to Natoli’s leadoff single and Cecchini’s second triple, again a hard shot just past the bag at first and into the right field corner. De La Cruz drove in Cecchini with a bullet grounder past the brought-in infield, and Salem led 5-2.

It was 6-2 after Coyle launched his sixth homer of the year, a two-out, first pitch blast to left off Moore. Incredibly, all six of Coyle’s round-trippers have been solo shots. Meanwhile, the Sox added another run in the last of the seventh thanks to Cecchini’s patience and baserunning. He walked on four pitches, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third, and came home when the catcher’s peg soared into left.

Having ensured a victorious homestand, the Red Sox are looking for a five-win week at LewisGale Field in Sunday’s series finale against the Hillcats. Salem will hand the ball to Henry Owens, who enters the day with a 1.71 ERA, seventh best in the league. Lynchburg counters with A.J. Holland, and the first pitch is slated for 4:05.