Salem Red Sox top Lynchburg Hillcats, 6-4, in series opener

salem red soxThe Salem Red Sox scored all of their runs with two outs and erased multiple deficits to take down Lynchburg 6-4 on Thursday evening at City Stadium, winning their ninth straight game over the Hillcats. The Red Sox twice rallied for three runs–in the fourth and the eighth innings–to emerge victorious and continue their dominance over their Route 460 rivals. The win improved Salem to 9-3 in its last 12 games and 15-10 overall, while Lynchburg lost its ninth consecutive game overall.
Down 4-3 in the top of the eighth, Ryan Dent drew a critical leadoff walk. Although the next two batters made outs, Carson Blair also worked a walk, with Dent moving to third on a catcher’s throwing error. With men at the corners and two men gone, Reed Gragnani hammered a single to center to tie it up at four. Soon thereafter, Aneury Tavarez pounded another RBI single to lift the Red Sox into the lead. Adding insurance, Kevin Heller walked to load the bases and Kevin Mager patiently waited for ball four, forcing in the run that made it 6-4.
Earlier in the contest, the Sox were down 2-0 after three innings, but finally broke through against Hillcats starter Wes Parsons in the fourth. Jonathan Roof led off with a leadoff double and moved to third on a wild pitch, but remained at third with two outs before Gragnani worked a walk. Tavarez cracked a clutch two-out RBI single to right, scoring Roof, while Heller proceeded to pound a two-run double to left, driving in Gragnani and Tavarez to lift the Sox into a 3-2 lead.
While Lynchburg would surge back ahead 4-3 in the last of the sixth, Salem’s final advantage stood up thanks to the fine piggyback pitching of Justin Haley. The righthander dealt the final three and a third innings without allowing a run, surrendering a double to the first batter he faced and not permitting another hit after that. With the clutch two-out run support, Haley improved to 2-0 and shrunk his ERA to 1.69.
Sox starter Pat Light allowed single runs in the first and third, dealing perfect frames in these second and fourth innings. He worked around two baserunners in the fifth and was an out away from escaping the sixth with the lead, but Hillcats right-fielder Will Skinner smashed a two-out RBI double to tie the game at three. When Daniel Castro drilled the RBI double against Haley, Light’s final line was set at four earned runs on six hits over five and two-thirds, with three strikeouts and two walks.
Lynchburg reliever Clay Shrader was tagged with the loss, retiring just one of the seven batters he faced over a third of an inning. He yielded two hits and walked four, giving up two runs, dropping to 0-1.
The Sox and Hillcats continue their four-game series on Friday night at 6:05, with William Cuevas scheduled to oppose Lucas Sims on the mound.

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