WOODBRIDGE, VA (May 13, 2017) - The Salem Red Sox held on in the nightcap of a doubleheader to earn a split Saturday night against the Potomac Nationals, winning Game 2 3-2 after dropping the opener 6-0 at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge.
The Red Sox (23-12) held their ground atop the Northern Division standings, and bounced back nicely from being blanked in the first game. Potomac (18-17) got the potential winning run on base in the final inning of the second game, but were held off and settled for the split. Salem remains a season-best 11 games above .500 with the win, and assured themselves of a winning record on the road trip.
Potomac opened the scoring in the first game in a big way against Sox starter Daniel McGrath (L, 0-3) in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Victor Robles singled to left, and moved to third base on a two-out single by Kelvin Gutierrez. Taylor Gushue stepped in and drilled a three-run blast to left, his league-leading 11th homer of the season. McGrath then walked Austin Davidson and Edwin Lora before Rhett Wiseman doubled the runners home. Bryan Mejia then came through with an RBI single to score Wiseman and make it a 6-0 lead for the Nationals. The Sox were never able to get to Nationals starter Wirkin Estevez (W, 2-2), who stymied Salem for just five hits and a walk in six innings while whiffing six.
McGrath took the loss, and was rocked for six runs on six hits and three walks in 2.2 innings; he struck out three. Yankory Pimentel was outstanding in relief, throwing 3.1 scoreless innings with just one walk allowed against one strikeout to complete the game for Salem.
In the nightcap, Salem got the scoring started in the top of the second inning against Potomac starting pitcher Hector Silvestre (L, 3-1). Jose Sermo worked a leadoff walk, and Trenton Kemp doubled him home to make it 1-0 in favor of the visitors. However, Potomac evened the score in the bottom of the frame against Sox starter Dedgar Jimenez (W, 4-1). Davidson reached on an error by Sermo at third, and moved up to third on a double by Lora. Matt Page bounced out to Nick Lovullo at second base, allowing Davidson to score and tie the game at 1-1.
Salem bounced back out front in the top of the third inning, as Chad De La Guerra led off the frame with a triple before Josh Ockimey brought him home on a sacrifice fly with one out. The Sox tacked on one more in the top of the fifth, as Lovullo sliced a two-out double just inside the third-base line before Tate Matheny singled him home to make it 3-1.
Potomac made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh against Sox reliever Trevor Kelley (S, 2). Lora singled to lead off the frame, and moved to third on a one-out base hit by Page. Jake Lowery brought Lora in on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 3-2, and Victor Robles singled to put the potential winning run on base. Kelley came through in the clutch, though, striking out Jack Sundberg on a backdoor slider to end the game.
Jimenez earned the win with a gem of a start, fanning a career-best eight in 5.2 innings while allowing just three hits. Kelley gave up his first run of the season on three hits and a walk, but held on for his second save.
The Sox will aim for the series win Sunday afternoon in the rubber match, with righty Daniel Gonzalez starting for Salem against Nationals righty Jefry Fernandez. First pitch at Pfitzner Stadium is set for 1:05 p.m., and Ben Gellman's pregame show starts at 12:45 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.