Salem shuts out Lynchburg
He relentlessly attacked the zone, never needing more than 13 pitches in any of his eight spectacular frames, compiling 58 strikes among his efficient 79-pitch performance. The Hillcats broke up Celestino’s no-hit bid when Adam Milligan singled on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in the seventh, however the Cats never pushed a baserunner beyond second against Celestino and Pete Ruiz, who dealt a perfect ninth to complete the shutout.
Celestino was aided by an array of defensive gems that made it seem like the stars were aligning for a possible no-no. After all, it would have been sweet revenge after the Hillcats Aaron Northcraft no-hit the Sox in a seven-inning contest on June 22 in Lynchburg. Xander Bogaerts made a great play in the deep whole at shortstop to throw out Edward Salcedo in the fifth, while Heiker Meneses made amends for his earlier error with a ridiculous diving stop, rise, and throw at third base in the sixth, stealing an extra-base hit from Mycal Jones. But with two outs in the seventh, Milligan poked a soft line drive single to center, denying Celestino’s quest for a no-hitter.
Even without the zero in the opponent’s hit column, the Red Sox still authored a fantastic all-around performance, scoring three times against Lynchburg starter Dimaster Delgado in the second and adding one more insurance tally in the eighth. Heiker Meneses went 2-for-4, while Sean Coyle and Matty Johnson each drove in runs for Salem.
Celestino retired the first ten batters of the game before Nick Ahmed reached on a fielding error by Meneses with one out in the fourth. From there, he retired 10 straight again prior to Milligan’s single in the seventh. Edward Salcedo followed with a base hit that moved Milligan to second, but Chris Garcia grounded out to finish the seventh frame.
Taking the mound in the eighth, Celestino became the first Salem starter in 2012 to pitch beyond the seventh. He recorded his third punchout on David Rohm to begin the frame, but Rohm reached on a wild pitch. The existence of a baserunner set up more magical glovework from the Red Sox infield, with Coyle fielding a chopper behind second base, acrobatically shoving the baseball to Bogaerts, who quickly touched the bag and flung to first for the 4-6-3 double play.
Appropriately, the game ended with another dose of defense, with Travis Shaw diving to his right to snag Emerson Landoni’s grounder. From his knees, Shaw flipped to Ruiz covering first to complete Salem’s second consecutive shutout triumph.