SALEM (April 18, 2017) - The Salem Red Sox would not be denied Tuesday night, scoring two in the ninth inning for a 6-5 walkoff win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks at Haley Toyota Field.
The Red Sox (8-5) ran their season-best winning streak to five games, making their way back from a 5-1 deficit and topping the visitors on a sacrifice fly. Wilmington (5-7) racked up an early lead with five runs in the first three frames, but didn't score again and lost their second straight game to the Sox. Salem now has two walkoff victories in the first 13 games of the 2017 season.
Wilmington cracked the scoreboard first in the top of the first against Salem starting pitcher Daniel McGrath. Nicky Lopez led off the game with a double to right, and with two outs, Anderson Miller smashed a triple to deep center. Lopez scored on the play and gave Wilmington the 1-0 lead.
Salem answered in the bottom of the inning against Wilmington starter Scott Blewett. Bryan Hudson punched a single through the left side, and stole second. With two outs, Josh Ockimey drew a walk, and Hudson swiped third with Michael Chavis at the dish. On 2-1, Ockimey ran for second, but got caught in a rundown. Hudson made for home from third base, and second baseman D.J. Burt threw wildly, allowing Hudson to score on the error and Ockimey to reach second, tying the game at 1-1.
The Blue Rocks were not so easily tamed. Roman Collins drew a one-out walk in the top of the second, and Travis Maezes singled him to third base. Nate Esposito smacked a single to right, plating Collins and moving Maezes to second base. Nicky Lopez then doubled home Maezes, extending Wilmington's edge to 3-1.
Wilmington tacked on more runs in the top of the third inning. Miller started the frame by lining a double to deep left, and came home on a sharp double up the third base line by Chase Vallot. After Wander Franco lined out to third, Roman Collins singled to center, and got caught in a rundown between first and second. Ockimey dropped a throw from Chad De La Guerra, allowing Collins to slide safely back into first and Vallot to come home from third and run the Wilmington lead to 5-1.
The Sox came back at Wilmington in the bottom of the third. With one out, Blewett hit Josh Tobias in the shoe, sending him to first base. Ockimey lined out sharply to Collins in left, but Chavis belted a fastball and sent it screaming over the left-field fence for a two-run homer, his first of the year, and cut the Wilmington lead to 5-3.
Salem trimmed the lead again in the bottom of the fifth. Hudson led off with a double up the left field line, and moved to third as Tobias reached on an error by Blewett as the ball went under his mitt. Ockimey lifted a sacrifice fly to right, and that was enough to score Hudson and cut the margin to 5-4.
The Sox made their move in the bottom of the ninth against new Wilmington reliever Yunior Marte (L, 0-1), who surrendered a leadoff single to Austin Rei. Manager Joe Oliver lifted Rei for pinch runner Jhon Nunez, who moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Meyers. Deiner Lopez came through with a clutch single to center, advancing to second base as Nunez scored on an off-line throw by Elier Hernandez. Lopez then pilfered third base with De La Guerra batting, and the shortstop came through with a fly ball to shallow center. Hernandez made the catch and fired home, but Lopez was able to just barely get in under the tag of Esposito at the plate, scoring the winning run.
McGrath took a no-decision, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits and two walks over four innings; he struck out five. Austin Glorius tossed three scoreless frames of relief, whiffing five against one hit and one walk. Gerson Bautista (1-0) allowed two hits over two innings and fanned one without giving up a run.
The Sox will try to make it six in a row Wednesday night, with righty Roniel Raudes making the start for Salem against Wilmington lefty Emilio Ogando. 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.