Salem Red Sox win pitchers’ duel with Carolina, 2-1

salem red soxMike Augliera authored a much-needed sensational start for the Salem Red Sox, dealing six scoreless innings in Salem’s 2-1 victory over Carolina on Tuesday night at Five County Stadium. Surrendering just three singles, Augliera recorded 12 of his 18 outs via ground balls, while striking out four and walking none. Mudcats starter Cody Anderson was almost as good, giving up just four hits and striking out nine with no walks, but the one run he allowed became his downfall. The victory snapped Salem’s six-game losing streak, while Carolina lost its eighth straight home game and suffered its fifth consecutive loss overall.

In the top of the second, Keury De La Cruz led off with a  double, and two batters later, Blake Swihart’s single up the middle brought home the game’s first run. Swihart finished 2-for-3 for his eighth multi-hit game of the season, raising his average to .274.

Until the eighth inning, Salem’s second inning tally was the game’s only run. But Matt Gedman, in his third game for the Salem Sox, launched a leadoff home run deep to right to kick off the top of the eighth, doubling the Red Sox lead to 2-zip. While Gedman hit three homers for Lowell in 2012, it was his first Carolina League dinger, and it proved to be a vitally important insurance run.

After Augliera dazzled in his 86-pitch, 55-strike performance, Nefi Ogando entered and tossed a pair of scoreless innings, pitching around back-to-back two out walks in the seventh. In the ninth, he walked the leadoff hitter, but induced a 4-3 double play to clear the bases. With two outs, Jordan Smith’s line drive to left fell around of Matty Johnson for a base hit. When Johnson slipped in pursuit, the ball skipped past him, transforming a single into a triple. Charlie Valerio then created another fortunate bounce, smacking a ground ball off the second-base bag for an infield RBI single that put the Mudcats on the board. But with the tying run at first base, Nate Striz came out of the Salem bullpen to strike out Luigi Rodriguez, bringing the Red Sox to the finish line.

Augliera improved to 4-0 on the year, sinking his ERA to 3.12 in the process. Striz earned his second save, striking out the only batter he faced. Together, the three Red Sox pitchers combined to create 19 outs via ground balls in the game, with 17 singular ground-outs and two double-plays. With five more outs recorded via the punchout, the Mudcats only lifted three air outs in the game, and one was a foul territory pop-out.

Salem third baseman Garin Cecchini, the league’s leading hitter, went 0-for-2 with a hit-by-pitch, but left the game after rolling his ankle on the lip of the infield grass in pursuit of that aforementioned foul pop-up. He made the catch, but went to the ground and grabbed at his leg. While he left the game, he did walk off the field under his own power. It was the second time in four games that Cecchini left the game midway through, but this was not in any way related to the hit-by-pitch he suffered on Saturday in Myrtle Beach, when a fastball drilled him in the shoulder.

Salem and Carolina will reunite on Wednesday evening for the middle matchup of the three-game set. William Cuevas makes the start for the Sox opposite Jacob Lee for the Mudcats, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:15.

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