KINSTON, NC (April 16, 2017) - The Salem Red Sox kept their bats booming Sunday afternoon, as they pounded out 14 hits en route to a 9-4 victory over the Down East Wood Ducks at Grainger Stadium in Kinston.
The Red Sox (6-5) won their third straight game and took hold of first place in the Carolina League's Northern Division with the win, moving half a game ahead of the Potomac Nationals and Wilmington Blue Rocks. Down East (6-5) racked up 11 strikeouts against the Sox but went 1-7 with runners in scoring position, squandering their opportunities for runs. Salem and Down East split the season series at four games apiece, with no regular season tilts remaining between the two clubs.
Salem grabbed the lead first in the top of the second inning against Down East starting pitcher Brett Martin (L, 0-1). Jose Sermo led off the frame with a double to center, and moved to third on a swinging bunt by Chris Madera. With the infield drawn in, Jhon Nunez chopped one over Martin on the mound, scoring Sermo to give Salem the 1-0 lead.
Down East struck back in the bottom of the inning against Sox starter Travis Lakins (W, 2-0). Chuck Moorman led off with a ground-rule double to deep center, and Josh Morgan drew a walk. Ledarious Clark singled to load the bases for Jairo Beras, who worked a walk of his own, scoring Moorman. Lakins recovered in crunch time, though, fanning Josh Altmann and getting Arturo Lara to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning with the score tied 1-1.
In the top of the third, the Sox retook the lead. With two outs and the bases empty, Tate Matheny hammered the first pitch he saw over the center field fence for a solo homer. It was Matheny's first shot of the year, and it put the Sox back in front 2-1. Consecutive singles by Chad De La Guerra and Josh Ockimey put runners at first and second for Sermo, who sliced a single over the leap of second baseman Luis La O to plate De La Guerra and run the lead to 3-1.
The Sox blew it open in the top of the fourth inning. Nunez singled to lead off the inning, followed by a strikeout by Jordan Betts. Derek Miller hit a bouncer to third that Josh Altmann whiffed on, with the ball rolling into left field. Nunez scored, and Miller made it to second on the blunder. Deiner Lopez singled Miller to third, and Matheny walked to load the bases. De La Guerra grounded out to La O at second, but all the runners moved up, with Miller scoring on the play. Ockimey then smoked a double to deep center, knocking home the runners and extending the margin to 7-1.
Down East chipped a run across in the bottom of the fourth, as Josh Morgan hammered a Lakins fastball over the left-field wall for a solo blast (his first of the season) and trimmed the lead to 7-2. However, the Sox answered in the top of the sixth against Wood Ducks reliever Austin Pettibone. Matheny laced a leadoff single up the middle, and De La Guerra smashed a double to center. Matheny scored on the hit, and De La Guerra raced to third on the throw. After Ockimey struck out looking, Sermo buffeted a single through the middle and into center field, scoring De La Guerra and leaving the Red Sox lead at 9-2.
Lakins earned the win, surrendering two runs on five hits and two walks while fanning four over five innings of action. Adam Lau tossed two innings, recording four strikeouts against two hits. Yankory Pimentel pitched the final two frames, allowing just one hit and two walks while striking out three.
The Sox will look to keep the momentum going Monday night against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, with lefty Matthew Kent getting the ball for Salem against Wilmington southpaw Foster Griffin. First pitch at Haley Toyota Field is set for 7:05 p.m., and Ben Gellman's pregame show starts at 6:45 on the Red Sox Radio Network.
The Carolina League All-Star Game returns to Salem on Tuesday, June 20 at Haley Toyota Field. As part of a celebration of 50 years of Carolina League baseball in the Roanoke Valley, the Red Sox will host a skills competition on Monday, June 19. The skills competition will take place at historic Kiwanis Field, the original home of Carolina League baseball in Salem. All 2017 Salem Red Sox season ticket holders will have tickets to the skills competition and the All-Star Classic at Haley Toyota Field included in their ticket package.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.