SALEM, VA (Friday, August 11, 2017) - The Salem Red Sox got the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth but couldn't make a comeback happen, falling 4-2 to the Wilmington Blue Rocks Friday night at Haley Toyota Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
The Sox (25-23, 65-52) lost their third straight game, grounding into three double plays on the day and going 0-5 with runners in scoring position. Wilmington (23-24, 62-55) picked up a game in the race for the Northern Division's second playing spot, moving to within 1.5 games of the Sox.
Wilmington opened the scoring in the top of the third inning against Salem starting pitcher Mike Shawaryn, who walked Nick Heath with one away. Heath swiped second base immediately to put himself in scoring position. Shawaryn recovered to fan Jecksson Flores, but walked Roman Collins and Chris DeVito to load the bases. Wander Franco singled through the middle to plate Flores and Collins, and Brandon Downes lined a single to left to score DeVito. Marc Brakeman relieved Shawaryn and got Travis Maezes to pop out, ending the inning with the Sox behind 3-0.
Salem responded in part in the bottom of the third against Wilmington starter Jace Vines. Nick Lovullo hit a one-out bouncer to third that he beat out for a single, and he moved up to second when Franco's throw from third got away. Chris Madera hit a chopper to second, and Jonathan McCray booted it badly, allowing Lovullo to race home and cut the deficit to 3-1. The Sox drew closer in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Jose Sermo launched a fastball 448 feet to right field for a solo homer, trimming the lead to 3-2.
That was as close as Salem would get, though, as the Blue Rocks added an insurance run in the seventh Brakeman walked Heath with one out, and the outfielder stole second before speeding to third on an errant throw by catcher Austin Rei. Flores walked to put runners at the corners, and Collins singled to plate Heath and make it 4-2. Tyler Spoon knocked a two-out hit in the ninth, but Rei struck out looking to end the ballgame.
Shawaryn was touched up for three runs on three hits and four walks in 2.2 innings while striking out one. Brakeman gave up a run on two hits and two walks in 3.2 innings while whiffing three. Harrison Cooney gave up two hits and two walks but struck out one in 2.2 scoreless frames.
The Sox will aim to reverse their recent misfortunes Saturday night, with southpaw Logan Boyd getting the ball for Salem against Wilmington righty Jared Ruxer. First pitch from Haley Toyota Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark is at 6:05 p.m., and Ben Gellman's pregame show starts at 5:45 p.m. on ESPN Roanoke, ESPN Blacksburg, and on the Red Sox Radio Network online.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.