Salem swept … again

Salem’s bats never found a groove and the Wilmington Blue Rocks made it four straight over the Sox by sweeping a twin-bill for the second straight day. The Blue Rocks overcame a 2-0 deficit to prevail 6-3 in the opener before blanking the Red Sox 4-zip in the finale. In between games, the tarp covered the field for a lengthy intermission, but following a two hour, 10 minute break, the second game commenced and went in Wilmington’s favor.

In game one, Bryce Brentz’s two-run double in the first inning against Justin Marks surged the Sox to their first lead of the series. But Wilmington scratched Ryan Pressly for four runs in the last of the second, connecting on five singles in addition to the one walk Pressly issued. With the game tied 2-2, Whit Merrifield and Carlo Testa delivered consecutive two-out RBI knocks to boost the Blue Rocks into the lead.

Pressly did not allow a hit in his scoreless third and fourth innings, but yielded consecutive singles to begin the fifth that knocked him out of the game. Both runners came around to score against reliever Jordan Flasher, giving Wilmington a 6-2 edge. Salem trimmed the deficit to three in the seventh as the first three batters in the inning reached against Gary Cuevas, but former Salem Sock Kendal Volz entered and recorded the final three outs to earn the save. The victory belonged to Allen Caldwell, who retired all six men he faced over two innings in relief of Marks.

In game two, both starters appeared locked in after the long break between games, with Elisaul Pimentel and Pete Ruiz both dealing two scoreless to start the contest. In the third, Salem mustered a pair of hits, but stranded the man at the corners. Meanwhile, Blue Rocks first-baseman Joey Lewis led off the last of the third with a line-drive home run to left, giving Wilmington the 1-0 edge.

Aside from the homer, Ruiz eased through the first four, retiring 12 of the 13 men he faced. In the bottom of the fifth, Yem Prades smoked a leadoff triple into the right-center field gap, coming across to score on the ensuing sac fly from Tim Ferguson to make the score 2-0. The Blue Rocks doubled their lead again in the last of the sixth, with John Whittleman drilling a bases-loaded double off reliever Will Latimer to take a 4-0 lead.

Salem’s offense mustered just four hits in the finale against Elisaul Pimentel (six innings) and Ryan Dennick (a 1-2-3 seventh), and the Sox scored just seven total runs in the four-game series, completed in less than 26 hours from 5 PM Saturday to 7 PM on Sunday. The pair of Sunday setbacks drop the Sox to 55-70 for the season, a low-water mark at 15 games below .500 with 14 games remaining in the season.

After registering a bunt single in the first game, Heiker Meneses went 0-3 in the nightcap, putting a halt to his 12-game hitting streak to begin his time with Salem. During the 12-game streak, Meneses hit .438 (21-for-48).

Salem returns to LewisGale Field on Monday for the final homestand of the regular season. The week-long slate begins with four games against Winston-Salem, commencing on Monday with Drake Britton facing Matt Wickswat at 7:05.

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