Salem survives Myrtle Beach comebacks, prevails 8-6
Three different Red Sox hitters drove in multiple runs, including shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who launched his first Advanced-A home run in the sixth inning. Starter Miguel Celestino earned the victory with five innings of solid pitching, permitting just two runs on six hits.
The Pelicans scored twice in the top of the ninth to cut a four-run deficit in half and brought the tying run to the plate against reliever Mike Olmsted, but Shannon Wilkerson’s spectacular diving catch in shallow right field robbed Santiago Chirino of a hit and preserved the win for Salem.
While the Sox could not muster a baserunner in the first two innings against Pelicans starter Nick Tepesch, Salem used four hits and a walk to score three times in the last of the third. Drew Hedman’s RBI single scored Wilkerson, and after a Jackie Bradley, Jr. single, Sean Coyle’s double plated Hedman. With Brandon Jacobs batting, Bradley sprinted home on a wild pitch to give Salem a 3-0 lead.
The Pelicans countered with a pair in the top of the fifth, breaking up Celestino’s scoreless performance on Teodoro Martinez’ two-run blast to left. The round-tripper narrowed Salem’s lead to one, but the gap widened again as the Sox scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. Bogaerts’ bomb put the Sox on top 4-2, while Hedman’s sac fly plated Wilkerson to bring the lead back to three.
In a wild eighth inning, the Pelicans scored twice off reliever Ruben Flores, with Chirino’s sac fly and Odubal Herrera’s RBI single bringing the Birds back within one. Again, the Sox countered, scoring three times in the last of the eighth to stretch the lead to four. Christian Vazquez delivered a clutch two-run single that put the Sox up 8-4.
The Pelicans refused to go quietly in the ninth, using back-to-back one-out walks and a two-out, two-run single from Brett Nicholas to slice the gap in half. With a runner at first and Chirino representing the tying run, a sinking line drive was snared by the diving Wilkerson to ignite the celebration for the first home win for the Salem Sox in 2012.
Wilkerson complemented his diving catch with two hits and two runs, while Bogaerts, Vazquez, and Hedman all drove in two runs apiece. Myrtle Beach was led by Herrera’s three hits, while Nicholas and Martinez each drove in two.
With Myrtle Beach winning 8-6 on Friday and Salem prevailing 8-6 on Saturday, the Birds and Sox will duel in the rubber match on Sunday, a 4:05 start at LewisGale Field. Manny Rivera will make his second start of the season opposite Myrtle’s Kyle Hendricks.