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Salem rolls past P-Nats

After managing five runs on 11 hits in the entirety of their four-game series in Kinston, the Salem Sox experienced a cathartic offensive awakening, scoring ten times on 16 hits to roll past the P-Nats 10-3 on Thursday night at Pfitzner Stadium.

Shannon Wilkerson drove in four runs, Dan Butler brought home three more, and eight different Red Sox scored runs, giving the Sox their biggest win since an 8-1 triumph over Myrtle Beach on May 24.

Pete Ruiz earned the victory for the Sox, dealing five strong innings out of the Salem bullpen after Junichi Tazawa made good strides in his sixth rehab start for the Sox. Tazawa allowed one run in three, Ruiz permitted just two in five, and Kendal Volz tossed a scoreless ninth to secure Salem’s 30th win of the season.

Potomac’s Jeff Kobernus blasted a first-inning homer off Tazawa to gave the Nats a 1-0 lead, but Salem retaliated three-fold with a powerful three-run bomb from Wilkerson in the third inning. Wilkerson’s eighth dinger of the season put the Sox ahead 3-1, and Salem would not yield the lead the rest of the way.

The Nationals inched within a run by manufacturing a tally in the fifth, scoring Sandy Leon on a sac fly from Jose Lozada, but the Red Sox once again answered in the top of the sixth. Derrick Gibson singled to drive in Wilfred Pichardo, one of the three hits for Gibson who joined Butler with three knocks apiece to lead the team. The lone tally in the sixth made it 4-2, but opened the floodgates for the Sox, who would score in each of the final four innings of the ballgame.

Butler drove in a pair with a double in the seventh, then picked up his third RBI with another double in the ninth, ascending to the 50-RBI plateau in just his 56th game played this season. Butler has driven in multiple runs in 12 different games this season, with six contests of three RBI or more.

Potomac made three errors in the final two innings, helping Salem to four unearned runs, all charged to reliever Mitchell Clegg. Wilkerson followed up his three-run bomb with an RBI single in the eighth, and Pichardo added to his two-hit performance with a sacrifice fly in the ninth that helped Salem break the double-digit barrier. It was the first time that the Sox scored 10 or more runs in a victory since April 26, when the Sox hammered the Indians 16-6.

Tazawa tossed 25 of his 37 pitches for strikes in his three-inning rehab stint, permitting one run on two hits, with no walks and two strikeouts. Ruiz improved to 3-3 with a solid effort out of the pen, yielding two runs on four hits while striking out three. The loss belonged to Nationals starter Evan Bronson, who served up 11 hits in five and a third innings, allowing four runs and falling to 1-3.

Salem and Potomac meet again on Friday night, with Ryan Pressly set to pitch opposite Trevor Holder. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.

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