SALEM, VA (June 12, 2017) - Matthew Kent tossed eight innings of outstanding baseball, and Jose Sermo, Mike Meyers and Michael Chavis contributed homers as the Salem Red Sox topped the Carolina Mudcats 7-3 Monday night at Haley Toyota Field.
The Sox (40-24) earned a second straight win, and improved to 19-8 against Southern Division opponents. The Mudcats (33-30) lost their third in a row and fell 4.5 games back in the Southern, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans won 5-4 over Frederick. Salem trimmed their magic number in the Northern Division race to only five with six games remaining before the All-Star Break, as the Lynchburg Hillcats beat the Wilmington Blue Rocks to stay only two games back. Chavis' homer was his 17th of the year, and his 12th all-time at Salem Memorial Ballpark, which set a new career record for all players.
Salem opened the scoring in the bottom of the first against Mudcats starter Marcos Diplan (L, 4-3), who walked leadoff man Bryan Hudson. With one out, Diplan hit Chavis with a pitch before walking Josh Ockimey to load the bases. Mike Meyers flew out to center, but Jose Sermo lashed a double into the left-center field gap, clearing the bases and putting Salem ahead 3-0. Sermo made it a 4-0 game in the bottom of the fourth when he belted a solo homer to right field for his fourth RBI of the evening.
Carolina got on the board in the top of the fifth against Salem starter Kent (W, 5-2). With one out, Lucas Erceg singled, breaking up what had been a perfect game, and came home on an RBI double by Luis Aviles. With two outs, Max McDowell drew a walk, and Carlos Belonis singled to plate Aviles and cut Salem's lead to 4-2.
The Sox restored their four-run lead in the bottom of the sixth. Chavis led off the frame with a towering homer to left field, and Meyers added one just like it with one away with one out. Salem got one more run in the bottom of the eighth against Carolina reliever Conor Harber, as Chavis led off with a single, and sped to third when McDowell's throw trying to catch him stealing went into center field. With Chavis at third and Ockimey at first with two outs, Harber uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Chavis to score and make it 7-2.
Carolina threatened in the ninth inning against Sox reliever Gerson Bautista. Erceg drew a two-out walk, and Aviles slashed a triple to right-center to score him, slicing the lead to 7-3. However, Bautista recovered to fan Weston Wilson and end the game.
Kent was superb in the winning effort, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk over eight innings while fanning a season-best seven batters. Bautista allowed a run on a hit and a walk while striking out one in his lone inning of work.
The Sox will go for a third straight win Tuesday night, with righty Shaun Anderson on the hill for Salem against Carolina righty Freddy Peralta. First pitch from 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.