SALEM, VA (Saturday, August 12, 2017) - The Salem Red Sox snapped out of a three-game losing streak and gained ground on a crucial divisional foe Saturday night, nipping the Wilmington Blue Rocks 5-4 in front of a raucous crowd of 8,014 at Haley Toyota Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
The Sox (26-23, 66-52) overcame two different deficits in the game and notched the win despite fanning 11 times, and are now just 40 strikeouts shy of the team record from 1984. Wilmington (23-25, 62-56) missed an opportunity to draw within half a game of Salem in the Northern Division, as the Red Sox, Blue Rocks and Frederick Keys jockey for position to nab the second Mills Cup berth in the division.
Wilmington struck first in the top of the third inning against Salem starting pitcher Logan Boyd (W, 3-0), who gave up a one-out double to Jecksson Flores. Roman Collins flew out to center for the second out, but Wander Franco lined a single to left, plating Flores to put the Blue Rocks ahead 1-0.
Salem answered in the bottom of the fourth inning against Wilmington starter Jared Ruxer. Mike Meyers led off with a single to left, and Conrad Gregor hit a laser over the left field wall for a two-run homer. It was his first dinger for the Sox, and it put them ahead 2-1.
The Blue Rocks leapt back in front in the top of the sixth inning. Collins and Franco started the inning with two straight singles, and Brandon Downes leapt on a fastball from Boyd, sending it out to left for a three-run homer to put Wilmington into a 4-2 lead.
The Sox didn't let that lead last long. Gregor led off the bottom of the frame with a double, and Jose Sermo earned a walk to put runners at first and second with nobody out. Jordan Betts flew out to deep center against new reliever Luis Rico (BS, 2; L, 0-1), advancing Sermo and Gregor to second and third. Jhon Nunez laced a single to left to plate the runners and tie the game before Victor Acosta banged a double off the left field wall to score Nunez and put Salem back in front 5-4.
Wilmington made things awfully interesting against Sox reliever Adam Lau (S, 6) in the top of the ninth, as Nathan Esposito drew a walk and Nick Heath reached on an infield single. However, Lau got Flores to bounce into a game-ending double play to secure the win.
Boyd earned the win, allowing four runs on nine hits and a walk while fanning two in six innings. Matthew Gorst got a hold with two scoreless frames of relief, surrendering a hit and a walk. Lau secured the save with a shutout inning despite giving up a hit and a walk.
The Sox will look for the series win in the rubber match Sunday afternoon, with southpaw Kyle Hart getting the ball for Salem against Wilmington righty Cristian Castillo. First pitch from Haley Toyota Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark is at 1:05 p.m., and Ben Gellman's pregame show starts at 12:45 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.