KINSTON, NC (April 15, 2017) - The Salem Red Sox scored two in the fourth and five in the fifth Saturday night, riding those big frames to an 11-4 victory over the Down East Wood Ducks at Grainger Stadium in Kinston.
The Red Sox (5-5) rolled up 17 hits en route to the victory, topping their previous season-best of 16 (set against the Wood Ducks on April 7). The Wood Ducks (6-4) fell for the second consecutive night, and went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Sunday's series finale is the last regular season game of 2017 between the two teams.
Salem grabbed the lead first in the top of the second inning against Down East starting pitcher Wes Benjamin (L, 0-1). Tate Matheny led off the frame with a double to right, and moved to third on a groundout by Jose Sermo. Jordan Betts then ripped a hard grounder past third baseman Josh Morgan for a double, scoring Matheny and putting Salem in front 1-0.
Down East struck back in the bottom of the third inning against Sox starter Dedgar Jimenez (W, 2-0). Chuck Moorman led off with a bloop single to right, and advanced to second on a push-bunt single by Luis Mendez. Arturo Lara sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Ledarious Clark walked to load the bases. Luis La O hit a swinging bunt that worked out into an RBI single, keeping the bases loaded. Eduard Pinto cracked a two-run single to right, leaving runners at the corners with one away. Michael O'Neill hit a chopper to first base that Josh Ockimey fielded on a terrific leap and threw down to second, hoping to start a 3-6-3 double play. However, O'Neill beat out the return throw from Deiner Lopez, allowing La O to score and run the lead to 4-1 in favor of the Wood Ducks.
Salem answered in the top of the fourth. Matheny led off the frame with a triple to left, and had to dive back into the bag on a groundout by Sermo. Betts drew a walk to put runners at the corners before Nunez fanned, bringing up Lopez. The shortstop punched a double past Morgan at third, scoring both Matheny and Betts to cut the deficit to 4-3.
The Red Sox bats exploded in the top of the fifth inning. Josh Tobias led off with a single, and zipped home on a double to right by Ockimey, who made it to third on the play. Mike Meyers then grounded a single to left to score Ockimey and chase Benjamin from the game. Jason Richman came in, and Meyers promptly stole second base against the lefty before Matheny singled to right to advance Meyers to third. With runners on the corners, Sermo cracked a single through the left side to score Meyers and move Matheny to second. The Sox pulled off the double steal to put the runners at second and third, and consecutive sacrifice flies by Betts and Nunez advanced the edge to 8-4 for the Sox.
Salem extended the lead in the top of the seventh, as Betts singled to lead off the inning against Richman and stole second. With two outs, Bryan Hudson drew a walk, chasing Richman in favor of Omarlin Lopez. Tobias welcomed Lopez to the game with a double to center, plating both runners and putting Salem out front 10-4.
The Sox added a run for emphasis in the top of the ninth, as Nunez and Deiner Lopez knocked consecutive singles to lead off the frame. Hudson then came through with a single to left-center, scoring Nunez and extending the lead to 11-4.
Jimenez earned the win, surrendering four runs on six hits and two walks while fanning four over five innings of action. Gerson Bautista gave up just one hit in two innings, recording one strikeout. Bobby Poyner allowed two hits and a walk over two innings and struck out one batter.
The Sox will look to take the series Sunday afternoon, with righty Travis Lakins getting the ball for Salem against Wood Ducks lefty Brett Martin. First pitch at Grainger Stadium is set for 2:00 p.m., and Ben Gellman's pregame show starts at 1:45 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.