Salem Red Sox smash Dash, avoid sweep

salem red soxThe Salem Red Sox outlasted two rain delays, created two huge innings offensively, and cruised to their first win of the second half behind the fine pitching of Joe Gunkel. Making his Carolina League debut after an All-Star first half with Greenville, Gunkel worked five and a third innings, allowing three runs on three hits, to pick up the win. It certainly helped that Salem used a six-run fifth to transform a 3-0 deficit into a 6-3 advantage, and the Sox added two in the seventh and five more in the eighth en route to the victory.

Four different Red Sox dove in multiple runs, led by Jantzen Witte, who plated three with a bases loaded triple in the fifth and finished the night with four RBI overall. The three-run three-bagger broke a 3-3 and gave Salem a lead that it would not relinquish. Matt Gedman chipped in with three RBI, while Reed Gragnani and Ryan Dent each drove in a pair.

Mike Miller collected three hits for the Sox, while Matty Johnson, Gragnani, and Gedman each delivered two knocks apiece. Offensively, the Sox went 7-for-15 with runners in scoring position, while simultaneously holding the Dash to just one hit in nine at-bats with men in scoring position.

Perhaps the outcome would have been different if not for the rain. Despite four scoreless innings, Dash starter Frank Montas did not return for the fifth. Departing with a 3-0 lead and handing the baton to Jefferson Olacio, Montas quickly watched as Olacio surrendered six runs (three earned) over two-thirds of an inning, suffering the loss and slipping to 0-3 on the season.

Nate Reed replaced Gunkel in the sixth for the Sox, and Reed proved solid by striking out five and only permitting one run over two and a third innings. Dayan Diaz recorded the final four outs as the Sox created separation late in the game.

Salem now journeys north for a three-game series at Potomac, beginning on Sunday night at 6:05. Cody Kukuk is scheduled to start for the Sox, while the Nationals counter with John Simms.

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