SALEM, VA (Tuesday, April 10) - The Salem Red Sox kept the good times rolling Tuesday night, dropping the visiting Wilmington Blue Rocks 3-1 to earn their third consecutive win at Haley Toyota Field in Salem.
The Sox (5-1) only mustered four hits but made the most of them, going 2-5 with runners in scoring position. The Blue Rocks (2-4) continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, recording just one hit in nine at bats in such situations to drop their success rate against Salem with runners in scoring position to 1-20. Highly-touted righty Bryan Mata (W, 1-0) looked mature beyond his 18 years of age, befuddling Blue Rocks hitters with a sharp curveball and a superb changeup.
The Sox went down in order in the first three innings, but cracked the veneer of Wilmington starter Cristian Castillo in the bottom of the fourth. Santiago Espinal banged a double to deep center to lead off the inning, and Brett Netzer worked a walk behind him. Bobby Dalbec then smashed a double of his own to center, scoring Espinal and moving Netzer to third base. Castillo then plunked Jerry Downs with a curveball, loading the bases with nobody out. Kyri Washington struck out, but Jhon Nunez was able to loft a fly ball to center field that was deep enough to plate Netzer on a sacrifice fly to give Salem a 2-0 lead. Salem tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth, as Espinal scorched a double off the left field wall with two away before Netzer singled him home to extend the advantage to 3-0.
Wilmington got on the board in the bottom of the seventh against Sox reliever Daniel Gonzalez (S, 2). Designated hitter Xavier Fernandez jumped on a Gonzalez fastball and belted it over the fence in left field for his first homer of the season, cutting Salem's lead to 3-1. With one out, Kort Peterson cracked a double to bring the tying run to the plate, but Gonzalez was able to recover and make his way out of the inning without further damage done.
Mata was sharp in his High-A debut, allowing just four hits and three walks in five innings while fanning four. Gonzalez picked up his second four-inning save of the season, allowing one run on five hits in four frames and striking out four.
The Sox will try for the sweep Wednesday night, with Nicaraguan righty Roniel Raudes getting the ball for Salem against Blue Rocks righty Jace Vines. 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 MiLB.tv and the Red Sox radio network.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.