Salem Red Sox hold off Frederick Keys, win 7-4
The Keys (66-64, 29-31) struck first with a run against Salem starter Trey Ball in the top of the second inning. After loading the bases with no outs on three straight singles, Steve Wilkerson grounded into a fielder’s choice scoring Austin Wynns and handing Frederick a 1-0 lead.
Salem (81-48, 38-22) evened the ledger at one against Keys lid-lifter Jon Keller in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and two outs, Keller (0-2) uncorked a wild pitch allowing Jose Sermo to dash home from third base.
The Red Sox took the lead in the bottom of the fourth without the aid of a hit, as Deiner Lopez walked and advanced to second when Joseph Monge was hit by a pitch. Two more wild pitches by Keller allowed Lopez to come around to score, giving Salem a 2-1 advantage.
Ball (8-5) worked in and out of trouble all night, but was able to limit the Keys to just one run in 5.0 innings thanks to his seven strikeouts, which tied a season high. The southpaw allowed eight Frederick hits, all singles.
With reliever Trevor Belicek in the game in the bottom of the sixth, Salem extended its lead to 3-1. Jayce Ray led off with a double and advanced to third when Frederick left fielder D.J. Stewart let the ball roll through his legs. David Sopilka plated Ray with a sacrifice fly two batters later.
The Red Sox busted the game wide open against Belicek in the bottom of the seventh. The club plated four runs on four hits to widen the gap to 7-1. The frame was highlighted by a two-out, two-run single by Sopilka, who finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs, tying a career high.
Yankory Pimentel came out of the bullpen and tossed scoreless stanzas in the sixth and seventh, but allowed a pair of runs in the eighth. Only one of the runs was earned, however, thanks to two errors, as the Keys drew to within 7-3.
In the top of the ninth, Bobby Poyner allowed a run on a Wynns RBI single to cut the lead to 7-4, but sealed the victory.
The win was the 13th triumph in the Red Sox last 14 games, and was the 11th in a row at LewisGale Field. Salem has now tied the franchise record for most consecutive home wins, matching a mark set by the 2000 Salem Avalanche. The 81 total victories are now the third-most in franchise history, dating back to 1968.
The Red Sox continue the series with the Keys with a doubleheader Saturday at LewisGale Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 pm. Salem sends RHP Anyelo Leclerc (3-2, 4.95) to the mound in game one, while Frederick counters with RHP Lucas Long (6-6, 4.47). Neither team has announced a starter for game two. For tickets and more information call (540) 389-3333 or slide to www.salemsox.com/tickets.