KINSTON, NC (Sunday, July 1) - The Salem Red Sox had a pitcher's duel going but saw it go down the tubes due to a costly seventh-inning error Sunday afternoon, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Down East Wood Ducks at Grainger Stadium.
The Red Sox (5-5, 37-41) wasted a sterling effort from their starting pitcher and scuffled in scoring opportunities, going 0-6 with runners in scoring position. The Wood Ducks (5-6, 40-41) rebounded from their series-opening 8-4 loss on Saturday to even the series back up. Salem fell short of picking up their third straight comeback win.
The Sox and Wood Ducks were both quiet early on, as Salem starter Jake Thompson (L, 3-7) and his Down East counterpart Sal Mendez (ND) held both offenses in check through the first six innings of action. Mendez departed in the seventh, but his replacement Blake Bass (W, 1-0) set down the Red Sox without any damage done. In the bottom of the frame, Thompson set down the first two batters, but Brendon Davis dropped a two-out single into left field. Alex Kowalczyk hit a bouncer to short that seemed sure to end the inning, but C.J. Chatham mishandled the ball, leaving runners at first and second with two away. Thompson allowed a wild pitch, moving the runners to second and third. Matt Whatley sliced a single into right field, scoring both Davis and Kowalczyk to break the deadlock. Reliever Jared Oliver entered, but was greeted by an RBI single from Franklin Rollin that plated Whatley and gave Down East a 3-0 lead.
Salem edged closer in the top of the eighth. Leadoff man Tyler Hill singled to center and sped to second when Leody Taveras overran the ball for an error. Brett Netzer hit a bouncer to third that Davis threw too high to first; Netzer made it to first and Hill advanced to third on the miscue. Chatham hit a grounder to second that retired Netzer, but Chatham beat out the throw to first, with Hill scoring on the fielder's choice to trim the lead to 3-1. That was as close as the Sox would get, though; Michael Matuella (S, 2) entered to retire Michael Osinski before setting down the side in order in the ninth inning.
Thompson took the hard-luck loss, allowing three unearned runs in 6.2 innings while striking out a career-best seven against five hits. Oliver allowed one hit and recorded one out. Hunter Smith gave up just one hit in a scoreless frame of action.
The Sox will try to regain their mojo Monday night, with righty Tanner Houck making the start for Salem against Wood Ducks righty Robby Rowland. First pitch at Grainger Stadium in Kinston is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., and the pregame show with Ben Gellman and Suzie Cool begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Red Sox broadcast network.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.