LILLINGTON, NC (Friday, April 13) - The Salem Red Sox got timely hitting and strong relief as they came out on the better end of a pitcher's duel Friday night, topping the Buies Creek Astros 4-2 at Jim Perry Stadium.
The Sox (7-2) overcame their second consecutive 14-strikeout night at the plate to knock off their hosts and earn their first road win of 2018. The Astros (4-5) suffered from sloppiness, as they registered three wild pitches, two hit batters and a passed ball. Those miscues proved critical for Salem, as the Sox went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position on the night.
The teams were deadlocked through the first five innings, with neither side able to crack the scoreboard. In the top of the sixth, Salem got to reliever Brandon Bailey, who hit Jerry Downs with a slider that bounced on its way home to lead off the inning. Tyler Hill then cracked a single, and Ryan Scott dropped a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Jhon Nunez brought in Downs with a sacrifice fly to left, moving Hill up to third in the process. Bailey then uncorked a wild pitch that brought Hill in to score and make it a 2-0 lead for Salem.
Buies Creek got a run back in the bottom of the sixth. Salem starter Darwinzon Hernandez (W, 1-0) gave up a single to leadoff man Josh Rojas, who then stole second. With one out, the Sox brought in reliever Hildemaro Requena (S, 1), who gave up an RBI single to Osvaldo Duarte to trim the lead to 2-1.
Salem earned that run back in the top of the seventh inning. Santiago Espinal earned a one-out walk from Bailey, who then hit Brett Netzer with a pitch and walked Bobby Dalbec to load the bases. Downs struck out, but Hill was able to coax a walk of his own, bringing in Espinal to run the lead to 3-1. The Sox got another tally in the top of the eighth, when Chris Madera belted a 3-2 fastball from Bailey to extend the advantage to 4-1.
Buies Creek crept closer in the bottom of the eighth. Rojas led off with a double to right against Requena, and moved up to third on a groundout to first by Abraham Toro. Duarte bounced out to the left side, but Rojas was able to scoot home and bring the score to 4-2.
Hernandez dazzled in his second start of the season, allowing one run on two hits and three walks while whiffing six in 5.1 innings. Requena surrendered a run on four hits in 3.2 innings, striking out two and earning the save.
The Sox will look for a second straight win Saturday night. Righty Tanner Houck takes the ball for Salem against Astros southpaw Brett Adcock. First pitch from Jim Perry Stadium is at 6:00 p.m., and the pregame show with Ben Gellman begins at 5:45 p.m. on the Red Sox radio network.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.