Salem wins in 14
Matt Barnes struck out eight to increase his minor league lead in punchouts, but the Salem Sox bullpen did the heavy lifting, refusing to allow an earned run over its special eight-inning performance on Friday night in Myrtle Beach.
The Sox punched two across in the top of the 14th inning, breaking a three-all stalemate and prevailing 5-3 at TicketReturn.Com Field in the series opener. Brandon Jacobs sprinted first to third on Xander Bogaerts’ single, racing home when the errant toss skipped away from Pelicans third baseman Christian Villanueva. With the error charged to left fielder Jared Hoying, Jacobs scored the first run since the seventh inning and crawled the Sox to a 4-3 edge. One batter later, Christian Vazquez pounded an RBI single off Zach DeVore to add an insurance tally, and Salem’s righthanded relievers did the rest.
Pete Ruiz earned the win with three perfect innings out of the bullpen, retiring all nine he faced to improve to 4-1 on the year. Ruiz replaced Mike Olmsted in the 12th after Olmsted dealt three hitless innings with five strikeouts, with only one man reaching on a Salem fielding error. Jeremiah Bayer also tossed two frames for the Sox, allowing one unearned run on three hits.
Early in the action, Barnes and Pelicans starter Roman Mendez battled by tossing dueling zeroes on the scoreboard through the first four innings. But with two outs and the bases empty in the fifth, Vinny DiFazio launched a solo homer off Barnes to give Myrtle Beach a 1-0 lead. DiFazio’s first of the season doubled as the first bomb that Barnes has allowed as a pro. Immediately after the homer, the Pelicans added an unearned run, capitalizing on errors from Xander Bogaerts and Sean Coyle, two of the season-high five errors that the Sox made on Friday.
Barnes dealt a shutdown sixth to finish his outing with eight strikeouts and no walks, bringing his season total to 62 strikeouts and just five walks over 38.2 innings pitched. Barnes allowed five hits and two runs (one earned) in six innings, dealing 59 of his 79 pitches for strikes. The Sox trailed 2-0 when he finished the sixth, but Salem rallied to take Barnes off the hook in the seventh.
With two outs, Travis Shaw and Jacobs hammered back-to-back RBI doubles that tied the game. Jacobs then stole third and scurried home when the throw sailed down the left field line. The Sox led 3-2, but once again the advantage was short-lived.
In the last of the seventh, Myrtle Beach capitalized on two more Red Sox miscues to knot the score at three. Teodoro Martinez singled home pinch-runner Josh Richmond with two outs to even things up.
From there, nobody scored for the next six innings until the Sox finally broke through in the 14th. Salem plated a pair, enjoyed the 14th inning stretch, and Ruiz struck out two in a flawless bottom half to preserve the hard-fought victory that took 4:28 to complete.
Every starter for Salem finished with at least one hit, with Shannon Wilkerson leading the way with a 3-for-5 night. Bogaerts and Vazquez each contributed two hits. Jackie Bradley, Jr. went 1-for-5 with two walks, extending his consecutive games on base streak to 25 games.
Salem and Myrtle will reunite on Saturday with Drake Britton set to oppose Nicholas Tepesch, with the first pitch set for 7:05.