Wilmington walks off, defeats Salem, 4-3
With one mighty swing, Jack Lopez transformed a one-run deficit into a one-run win, creating a celery celebration at home plate. All the Blue Rocks, and their vegetable mascot, Mr. Celery, stormed onto the field when Lopez pummeled a 1-1 fastball from William Cuevas, giving Wilmington a walk-off 4-3 victory over Salem in the series opener at Frawley Stadium. The Red Sox had broken a 2-2 tie with Aneury Tavarez’s solo homer in the sixth, but two outs away from a road triumph in the ninth, Salem got stung by Lopez, who crushed his first of the season to send the Sox home unhappy.
Considering that Salem had made four errors in the game and four Blue Rocks reached base after striking out, it was pretty incredible that the Sox were two outs away from a win in the first place. Down 1-0 after an unearned run came across in the first inning, the Sox managed to even the score in the top of the third. But the Rocks countered quickly, surging ahead 2-1 in the last of the third.
In the top of the fifth, Salem got even again, with Matty Johnson singling home Kevin Mager to make it 2-2. One frame later, Tavarez clobbered a line drive homer over the wall in right to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead. Despite all the early mistakes, the Sox were in a position to steal a win on the road.
Cuevas pitched in relief for the first time this season and dominated in his first three frames on the hill. He struck out four Blue Rocks in the sixth inning alone and did not allow a hit in the sixth, seventh, or eighth. But Johermyn Chavez began the ninth with a soft grounder into left field for a single. Mike Antonio bounced into a fielder’s choice, but then Lopez launched the game-ending round-tripper over the wall in left. It soared into the Red Sox bullpen, handing Salem its first walk-off loss of the year.
Tavarez, Johnson, and Ryan Dent each contributed three hits for the Sox, who outhit the Rocks 8-5. But Zeb Snead earned the win with one scoreless inning out of the Wilmington bullpen. Cuevas suffered the loss, falling to 2-5 on the season.
The Sox and Rocks continue their three-game set on Tuesday night, with Cody Kukuk scheduled to oppose Jonathan Dziedzic. First pitch is slated for 6:35.