SALEM, VA (Thursday, May 10) - The Salem Red Sox saw their losing streak reach a season-worst five games Thursday night, losing in an 11-5 rout to the Lynchburg Hillcats at Haley Toyota Field.
Salem (17-17) fell behind early on and had to rely heavily on their bullpen, as their starting pitcher didn't make it out of the second inning. The Hillcats (16-17) amassed season bests in runs and hits (18), taking the first meeting between the two regional rivals in 2018.
The Hillcats began the scoring right away in the top of the first against Salem starting pitcher Bryan Mata, who gave up a leadoff single to Jodd Carter. Carter stole second, and catcher Isaias Lucena's throw skittered into center field, allowing Carter to move up to third. Luke Wakamatsu lofted a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Carter and putting the Hillcats ahead 1-0.
Lynchburg blew the game open in the top of the second, as Mata issued a leadoff walk to Logan Ice. After Emmanuel Tapia struck out looking, Dillon Persinger and Alexis Pantoja each singled, loading the bases with one out. Carter singled to right to score two, and Wakamatsu ripped an RBI knock of his own. After Conner Capel grounded out to first, Trenton Brooks lashed a two-run single to center, chasing Mata from the game. New Sox reliever Daniel Gonzalez gave up a single to Anthony Miller, and Ice walked for the second time in the inning, loading the bases. Tapia earned his own walk to bring home a run before Gonzalez retired Persinger to end the inning with Salem trailing 7-0.
The Hillcats tacked on a pair in the top of the third inning. With one out, Carter belted a 3-1 fastball over the left-field wall for a solo homer, his third dinger of the year. Wakamatsu, Capel and Brooks all singled to load the bases, and Miller plated Wakamatsu on a ground-out to first, extending the lead to 9-0.
Salem broke through in the bottom of the fifth against Hillcats starter Sam Hentges (W, 3-1), as Jordan Wren and Chris Madera cracked consecutive singles to start the frame. Santiago Espinal yanked a three-run homer to left field, his fifth of the season, and cut the lead to 9-3. The Sox tacked on another in the bottom of the sixth, as Bobby Dalbec led off the frame with a towering tater to left. The solo shot was his sixth of the season, and it trimmed the margin to 9-4.
The Hillcats added two runs in the top of the ninth against Sox reliever Durin O'Linger. Wakamatsu reached on an error by Espinal to lead off the inning, and Capel singled him to second. A ground out by Miller moved the runners to second and third, and Ice singled them home with two away.
The Sox got one back in the bottom of the ninth against Lynchburg relief arm Dalbert Siri, who walked Madera with one away. Madera moved up to second and third on defensive indifference, and Brett Netzer lined a single to right to plate him with two away. C.J. Chatham singled, but Jerry Downs flew out to center, ending the ballgame.
Mata was shelled for a career-worst seven runs (six earned) on six hits and two walks in 1.2 innings, recording one strikeout. Gonzalez surrendered two runs on seven hits and three walks in 3.1 innings, fanning four. Joan Martinez gave up a hit and two walks in two shutout frames, striking out one. O'Linger allowed two unearned runs on four hits and a walk while whiffing one in two innings.
The Sox will try to snap out of their skid Friday night, with southpaw Darwinzon Hernandez starting for Salem against Hillcats righty Zach Please. First pitch from Haley Toyota Field is at 7:05 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.