Salem Red Sox sweep Pelicans
The Salem Red Sox smacked nine doubles and batted around the order twice during Thursday’s doubleheader with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, sweeping the contests, 7-1 in the first game, and 9-2 in game two at LewisGale Field.
In the opening game of the double dip, Yoan Moncada broke out of his slump in a huge way to lead the Red Sox (35-19) to victory. Moncada came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning against Jeremy Null, and promptly unloaded them with a three-run double to put Salem up 3-0.
The Pelicans (28-25) struck for a run against Salem starter Matt Kent in the third, but he was otherwise solid. Kent (4-3) recorded his fourth quality start, allowing just one run in 6.0 innings, allowing five hits and striking out four. The southpaw retired the final 10 Pelicans batters he faced.
Null (1-2) settled down for the Pelicans as well, but Salem was able to strike against the Myrtle Beach bullpen in the sixth – batting around the order and touching up Dillon Maples for four runs to extend the advantage to 7-1.
Moncada had a two-run double off the left field wall in the inning, and finished game one 2-for-4 with a career-high five RBIs to go along with his two doubles.
Taylor Grover worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh to retire the Pelicans and seal the game one win.
In nightcap, the Pelicans struck for a run in the first off Yankory Pimentel when Ian Happ lifted a sacrifice fly to score Rashad Crawford, but the Red Sox answered back in the bottom of the frame against Myrtle Beach starter Jake Stinnett.
Moncada laced the first pitch of the inning down the right field line for a double, advanced to third on a Mauricio Dubon sacrifice bunt, and then scored on a Mike Meyers double to tie the game 1-1.
Salem busted out the bats in the bottom of the second against Stinnett (4-2). Danny Mars led off with a single then scored on a Franklin Guzman triple. Guzman scored when Deiner Lopez grounded into a fielder’s choice, and Happ’s throw to the plate was late.
Lopez proceeded to steal second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Amaya. He then scored when Moncada doubled to centerfield to run the Red Sox lead to 4-1.
The Pelicans struck for a run in the third without a hit against Pimentel (4-1), but Salem answered in the fourth when Dubon singled home David Sopilka to put the Sox ahead 5-2. Pimentel threw a career-high 5.0 innings, allowing just the two runs on three hits, while striking out five in the spot start.
Salem loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth against Stinnett, and Dubon hit a ground ball to shortstop Daniel Lockhart who had it go through his legs, allowing Sopilka and Lopez to score.
Ryan McNeil replaced Stinnett and loaded the bases to bring up Nick Longhi, who promptly laced a two-run single to right field to extend the advantage to 9-2. Salem sent nine batters to the plate in the sixth, marking the second time in the doubleheader that they sent all nine men to the plate in one inning.
Bobby Poyner, recently promoted from Low-A Greenville, relieved Pimentel and pitched 2.0 shutout innings to notch his first Salem save and secure the win. Poyner had notched 11 saves in 16 games with the Drive.
With the pair of wins, the Red Sox own the first-half tie-breaker with the second-place Pelicans, and their magic number has been reduced to 10 with 16 games left to play. Salem has not won a first-half division title since 1988.
The Red Sox complete their series with Myrtle Beach Friday at LewisGale Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm. Salem will throw Travis Lakins (5-2, 4.63), while Myrtle Beach rolls with Jonathan Martinez (3-3, 3.88). For tickets and more information slide to www.salemsox.com/tickets or call (540) 389-3333.