Salem Red Sox rally late, knock off Wilmington
With two outs in the last of the seventh, Sean Coyle jacked a deep fly over the fence in right-center for a two-run homer, breaking a 5-5 tie and giving the Salem Red Sox a lead they would not relinquish in Friday’s 7-5 win over Wilmington at LewisGale Field.
Xander Bogaerts led the Red Sox with three of Salem’s 13 hits, as the Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit to take the opener of the three-game series. Brett Eibner and Murray Watts both homered for Wilmington, but the Blue Rocks bullpen surrendered two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh that propelled the Red Sox in front.
Wilmington led 2-0 after two batters in the first inning, with Orlando Calixte taking a hit-by-pitch before Eibner crushed a two-run bomb to left-center off Yeiper Castillo. The Blue Rocks added another run when Whit Merrifield scurried home from third on a wild pitch, and the visitors held an early 3-0 advantage that Salem would quickly counter.
In the home half of the first, Felix Sanchez walked before Shannon Wilkerson and Brandon Jacobs both struck out against Leondy Perez. With two outs, Bogaerts, Drew Hedman, and Coyle drilled three consecutive doubles, all into the right-center field gap, each scoring one run to even the score at three. Perez did strike out his third man of the frame by punching out Lucas LeBlanc to end the inning, stranding Coyle at second in a 3-3 game.
In the top of the fourth, Murray Watts launched a solo homer to break the tie, his first Carolina League dinger that gave the Blue Rocks a 4-3 lead. In the last of the sixth, however, Salem rallied with three consecutive hits from the bottom third of the order to take its first advantage. LeBlanc singled, Adalberto Ibarra doubled to tie it up, and James Kang doubled to surge Salem in front 5-4.
Lane Adams laced a two-out double to bring home Matt Field and tie the game in the seventh, but Coyle retaliated with two outs in the bottom of the inning, smashing an opposite field home run to untie the proceedings. Coyle’s bomb made a loser of Tyler Sample, who allowed four runs on five hits in two innings out of the Blue Rocks bullpen.
Charle Rosario earned the win for the Red Sox, allowing just one run on three hits in two and a third innings, striking out five. The Blue Rocks put two runners on with one out in the eighth, but Pete Ruiz emerged and retired back-to-back hitters to escape the threat unscathed. In the ninth, Ruiz struck out a pair in a perfect frame, earning his fourth save of the season.