LYNCHBURG, VA (Sunday, July 9, 2017) - The Salem Red Sox couldn't hang onto a ninth-inning lead Sunday evening, falling 4-3 in walkoff fashion to the Lynchburg Hillcats at Calvin Falwell Field in Lynchburg.
The Sox (11-6, 51-36) scored the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth but failed to maintain the lead, missing out on a chance to take sole control of first place in the Northern Division. Lynchburg (12-6, 52-35) bounced back after being blanked 3-0 by the Sox on Saturday night, and got a huge performance out of Gavin Collins, who drove in all four of their runs.
After a five-inning deadlock for the second straight day, Salem opened the scoring in the top of the sixth against Lynchburg righty reliever Kieran Lovegrove. Victor Acosta blooped a single to right to lead off the inning, bringing Nick Lovullo to the dish. The Red Sox second baseman laced a soft liner just inside the right field line that rolled to the corner. Acosta scored, and Lovullo made it to third base for a triple. Lynchburg skipper Tony Mansolino protested the call and was ejected for his troubles. The Sox left the inning with a 1-0 advantage.
The Sox extended their lead in the top of the seventh. With two outs, Tate Matheny sliced a double into right-center field, and Jordan Betts lined a single to left, with Matheny sliding in to score and run the lead to 2-0.
Lynchburg drew even in the bottom of the seventh against Sox starting pitcher Matthew Kent (ND), who'd held them in check until then. With two outs, Connor Marabell lined a single to center, and Collins hammered a two-run blast over the wall in left, tying the score at 2-2.
Salem moved back in front in the top of the ninth against Lynchburg closer Argenis Angulo (W, 4-2). Jeremy Rivera led off with a double, and scooted to third on a wild pitch. Josh Ockimey fanned, and Tyler Spoon grounded out softly, but Matheny was intentionally walked to get to Betts. The Red Sox third baseman struck out, but the third strike was a wild pitch that snuck by catcher Sicnarf Loopstok, and everybody advanced safely, with Jeremy Rivera sliding home with the go-ahead run to make it 3-2 in favor of Salem.
Things fell apart for the Sox in the bottom of the ninth. Reliever Adam Lau (L, 2-6) allowed a leadoff single to Martin Cervenka, who was replaced at first base by pinch runner Jorma Rodriguez. Willi Castro then worked a walk to put runners at first and second with no outs. Lau recovered to fan Marabell, but surrendered a double to Collins, scoring the runners and handing Lynchburg the walkoff 4-3 victory.
Kent pitched very well, allowing only two runs on eight hits over 6.2 frames while fanning seven. Lau took the loss, surrendering two runs on two hits and two walks in 1.2 innings, fanning two.
The Sox will try to earn a split of the four-game series Monday night, with righty Mike Shawaryn making the start for Salem against Lynchburg righty Brock Hartson. First pitch from Haley Toyota Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark is at 7:00 p.m., and Ben Gellman has the call on the Red Sox Radio Network starting at 6:45 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.