Sox fall in extras
Andy Wilkins launched a towering, walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the tenth inning, capping off a wild back-and-forth 12-10 victory for the Dash over the Red Sox on Saturday night at BB&T Ballpark. Salem took leads into the bottom of the ninth and tenth innings, but the Dash fought back with multiple runs in each frame.
Wilkins’ blast concluded a string of eight consecutive half-innings in which the teams scored at least one run. Leading 10-9 heading to the bottom of the tenth, Salem’s Michael Gleason yielded two singles around a failed sacrifice bunt by Jose Martinez, leading up to Wilkins’ bomb that landed on the concourse in right-center field. Wilkins finished off his 5-for-6, five-RBI night with his 14th homer of the year, sending the Dash to their fifth walk-off this season.
The seesaw affair featured five lead changes, with three coming in the final four innings. Winston took a 4-2 lead into the sixth inning before Bryce Brentz’ leadoff blast made it 4-3. Brentz’ dinger was his seventh in a Salem uniform in just 16 games and his 18th homer combined between Salem and Single-A Greenville.
Things then started to get wacky in the top of the seventh. With two outs and the bases loaded, Miles Head and Alex Valdez smacked back-to-back two-RBI base knocks to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 7-4 advantage. Winston fought back in the bottom of the seventh with a pair of runs, both coming on a two-RBI double by Wilkins to draw back within one.
Salem got one run back in the top of the eighth, as Jorge Padron laced an RBI single to put the Sox up 8-6. With Kolbrin Vitek on third and one out, Salem seemed poised to tack on another insurance run, but Brentz was robbed of a base hit on a diving catch by center fielder Jared Mitchell, who immediately threw the ball into the infield, where second baseman Daniel Wagner unleashed a cannon to gun down Vitek attempting to score. The double play cost the Sox immediately when Nick Ciolli launched a leadoff homer in the eighth to bring the Dash within one again.
In the ninth, Salem added an insurance run, this time on a sacrifice fly by Valdez to make it 9-7. But in the bottom of the last, Jose Martinez’ single was followed by an Iac Gac single, putting the tying runs on base. On Gac’s base hit, Padron attempted to throw out Martinez going to third and as a result, Gac moved into scoring position with nobody out. Latimer battled back to strike out Wilkins, but backup catcher Mike Blanke, who pinch-hit in the seventh, slapped a single up the middle, scoring both runners to knot the game at nine. Latimer then hit Ciolli and was replaced by Gleason, who induced a pop out before walking Daniel Wagner to load the bases. Gleason struck out Saladino in clutch fashion to send the game to extras.
In the tenth, the Sox reassumed the lead, as Vitek singled, stole second, and advanced to third when the throw trickled into center field. Padron lifted a fly ball to shallow center that Vitek scored upon on a close play at the plate surging Salem ahead once again.
But the lead would not last, as Wilkins’ homer three hours and 51 minutes after the game began sent the 6,124 at BB&T Ballpark into a frenzy, handing Salem one of its most excruciating defeats of the season.
Every member of the Salem order had at least one base knock, highlighted by Head’s four-hit, two-RBI game. Wilkerson went 3-for-6 with a run scored and Valdez drove in his first four runs in a Salem uniform.
Winston’s two through five hitters went a combined 13-for-22 with a double, homer, six RBI and eight runs scored. Mitchell and Martinez had three hits apiece, while Gac scored three times and notched two base hits.
The Sox and Dash will battle again on Sunday night in game two of four in the Piedmont Triad. Drake Britton will make his return to the rotation for Salem against Winston’s Matt Wickswat. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM.