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Salem Red Sox walk off with win over Carolina

The Salem Red Sox were trailing by two runs and down to their final strike before a remarkable three-run rally carried Salem to an improbable 7-6 victory over Carolina on Wednesday night at LewisGale Field.

The Mudcats led 6-4 and Xander Bogaerts was entrenched in an 0-2 count with two outs and a runner at second base. After fouling off a few two-strike offerings from Grant Sides, Bogaerts tripled off the wall in right field, bringing the Sox within a run. Sean Coyle followed with an RBI single to right field that tied the game at six, and Coyle advanced to third on Drew Hedman’s walk and Lucas LeBlanc’s infield single that loaded the bases.

With Carson Blair batting, the Mudcats implosion ended with a wild pitch that tipped off the catcher’s mitt to the backstop, sending Coyle cross the plate with the winning run. Just four days after Salem’s first walk-off win of the 2012 season on Saturday against Wilmington, the Sox enjoyed their second dramatic victory of the homestand, prevailing when trailing after eight for just the third time all year.

The rally made a winner of Pete Ruiz, who improved to 5-2 by tossing a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts. Of the three Salem pitchers who threw on Wednesday, Ruiz was the only one who did not allow a homer. The Mudcats, for the second straight night, scored all their runs via the long-ball, bashing three against Miguel Celestino and one more off Charle Rosario. Bizarrely, Carolina did not have a single until the ninth inning, pounding four homers and three doubles through the first eight frames. Meanwhile, the Red Sox started the night 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position, yet three clutch hits in the ninth sent the 2,895 Roanoke Valley fans home happy.

Every member of the Red Sox lineup except Blair recorded a hit, while Blair walked, drove in a run, scored a run, and took the 1-0 delivery from Sides that resulted in the game-ending wild pitch. LeBlanc beat out a slow chopper to shortstop to keep the Red Sox rally alive, giving him a team-best three hits in the contest. Michael Almanzar and Brandon Jacobs each added two hits and a walk.

Salem stole eight bases on the night, the most for any team in a single game in the Carolina League this season. The Sox also had baserunners in every single inning, but stranded 11 and only scored in two separate frames, swiping two in the third and two in the fourth.

Carolina used a three-run shot from Jesus Aguilar in the fourth inning to surge in front 3-2, while Giovanny Urshela belted a solo shot in the sixth that tied the game at four. Three batters later, Ronny Rodriguez launched another solo homer to break the tie, giving the Mudcats a 5-4 advantage. Celestino only allowed five hits in six innings, but the three round-trippers tagged him with five  earned runs. In the seventh, Tony Wolters blasted a two-out solo bomb off Rosario to extend Carolina’s lead to 6-4.

But the resilient Red Sox rose to the task with two outs in the ninth, as four straight men reached before the walk-off wild pitch. Sides dealt a scoreless eighth, but suffered his first blown save in the last of the ninth, falling to 2-1 on the season.

The Sox and Mudcats will embark on a rubber game on Thursday night at 7:05 at LewisGale Field, with Yeiper Castillo scheduled to throw against Will Roberts.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press