Salem, VA (May 8, 2014) - The Salem Red Sox tied a franchise record for the widest margin of victory by blasting the Carolina Mudcats 18-2 on Thursday night at LewisGale Field. The Sox offense erupted early, scoring five in the first, seven in the second, and two more in the third to lead 14-0. Five different hitters drove in multiple runs, with Carson Blair collecting six RBI to lead the way in his return to the lineup. While the bats were the story of the night, southpaw starter Cody Kukuk earned his first Carolina League win, tossing five innings and allowing just one run.
Salem broke the seal with one out in the last of the first, with Reed Gragnani smacking a bases loaded single to give the Sox a 1-0 lead. One batter later, Blair worked into a full count and launched a towering grand slam over the left-field fence, surging Salem ahead 5-0.
In the second, the Sox sent 12 men to the plate, knocked Carolina starter Shawn Morimando out of the game, and led by a dozen before all was said and done. Tim Roberson cracked a two-run single, Gragnani picked up his second RBI single in as many innings, and Blair crushed a majestic fly off the center-field fence for a two-run double. Matty Johnson added a two-run single to make it 12-0, and it became 14-zip in the third when Roberson crushed a two-run homer to left-center field.
Kukuk struggled with command, walking five in five innings, but induced three double plays to escape much trouble. The lefty improved to 1-0 in two starts with Salem and 4-0 in seven starts on the year between multiple levels. In relief, Kyle Stroup allowed one unearned run in two innings, while Diaz dealt two scoreless.
Salem's number nine hitter Jayson Hernandez led the team with three hits, while Johnson, Jonathan Roof, Roberson, Gragnani, Blair, and Kevin Heller all collected two hits apiece. Blair led the way with six RBI in his first game in a week, while Roberson drove in four, Johnson drove in three, and Gragnani and Heller each tallied two RBI.
The Sox will hope that their offense stays locked in as the series against the Mudcats continues on Friday night. Luis Diaz is scheduled to start opposite D.J. Brown, and the first pitch is slated for 7:05.