Salem Red Sox fall to Wilmington

salem red soxThe Salem Red Sox scored first, but Wilmington’s offense collected 17 hits and rode a strong six-inning outing from Kyle Zimmer to a 9-5 win over Salem on Wednesday night at LewisGale Field. The triumph denied Salem’s bid for a three-game series sweep and, combined with Myrtle Beach’s victory over Frederick, mathematically eliminated the Sox from the first-half Southern Division title chase.

Parker Morin led the Blue Rocks offense with four hits and three RBI, while Lane Adams and Geulin Beltre each chipped in with three hits apiece. But while the Wilmington bats provided plenty of pop, the biggest story of the night belonged to the struggling Zimmer, who overcame a bumpy beginning to earn his first Carolina League victory.

Selected fifth overall in the first round of the 2012 draft, Zimmer entered Wednesday night with an 0-6 record and 6.32 ERA. In his previous three starts, his ERA was 14.67. But he served as the stopper to Wilmington’s five-game losing streak by holding the Sox to two runs in six innings. In the first, Salem’s first four batters all reached, but Deven Marrero was thrown out at home plate for the first out of the game, and Brandon Jacobs grounded into an inning-ending double play, preventing the Sox from coming away with a crooked number in the opening frame.

Salem mustered just four more baserunners over the next five innings against Zimmer, who strike out four Sox on the night. Neither Scott Alexander nor Andrew Triggs was flawless out of the bullpen, but both pitched well enough to preserve the Blue Rocks lead. Triggs tossed the final inning and a third to earn his fifth save.

Offensively, Wilmington rallied for four in the top of the second against Salem starter Kyle Kraus, taking a 4-1 lead through two. An unearned run in the third increased the Blue Rocks edge to 5-1. Keury De La Cruz led the Red Sox with three hits and two RBI, including a two-out double that plated Garin Cecchini in the sixth to bring the Sox within three at 5-2.

The final two innings were busy, with Wilmington scoring one in the top of the eighth, while the Sox countered with two in the bottom to make it 6-4 heading to the ninth. But just as the Sox appeared to have gathered momentum, the Rocks rallied for three more against Sox reliever Nefi Ogando in the top of the ninth, soaring ahead 9-4. Stefan Welch doubled home Blake Swihart in the last of the ninth, but it was too little, too late.

The Sox will finish their first half with five games in four days against Lynchburg, all at LewisGale Field. Thursdaybrings a doubleheader beginning at 5:30, with Kyle Stroup on the mound for the Sox in game one and Mickey Pena on the bump in game two.


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