The Salem Red Sox got a much-needed offensive explosion as they racked up 13 hits en route to a 7-3 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats Tuesday night at Haley Toyota Field in Salem.
The Sox (35-23) snapped a three-game losing streak and gained a critical game of distance in the race for the Northern Division’s first-half crown. The Hillcats (32-24) missed out on a chance to move into a tie for first place in the division, and left the bases loaded and the tying run at the plate in the eighth inning. Salem now holds a two-game lead over Lynchburg in the divisional standings.
Lynchburg opened the scoring in the top of the third inning against Salem starter Dedgar Jimenez (W, 7-1). Daniel Salters led off with a single before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Sam Haggerty. Salters then moved up to third on a groundout by Willi Castro, and scored on an RBI single by Sicnarf Loopstok to put Lynchburg ahead 1-0.
The Sox evened the score in the bottom of the fourth inning against Lynchburg hurler Shane Bieber (L, 0-1), as Josh Ockimey cracked a one-out single and moved up to third on a double to right by Mike Meyers. Jose Sermo lofted a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing Ockimey home and tying the score at 1-1.
Salem moved ahead in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Tate Matheny and Chad De La Guerra smacked back-to-back doubles, and Michael Chavis ripped a single to plate De La Guerra and put Salem out in front 3-1.
The Sox blew it open in the bottom of the sixth. Sermo led off with a single, and advanced to second when Austin Rei cracked a single of his own. Jeremy Rivera advanced the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt, and the Hillcats intentionally walked Bryan Hudson to load the bases. Matheny came through with a single to center, scoring Sermo and Rei and advancing Hudson to third. Against new reliever Kieran Lovegrove, De La Guerra brought Hudson in on a sacrifice fly that allowed Matheny to make it to second. Matheny pilfered third base, and Chavis doubled to score him and extend the lead to 7-1.
The Hillcats scratched their way a little closer in the top of the seventh against Sox reliever Jordan Weems, who allowed a one-out walk to Salters and a double to Haggerty. Castro lifted a sacrifice fly to center to plate Salters and trim the lead to 7-2.
Lynchburg threatened in the top of the eighth, as Weems allowed a leadoff double to Martin Cervenka before walking Connor Marabell. Yonathan Mendoza lined out to right, but Andrew Calica reached on an infield single, loading the bases. Trevor Kelley (S, 5) came in and gave up an RBI single to Jodd Carter, but fanned Salters and Haggerty to end the inning and keep Salem ahead 7-3. Kelley allowed a leadoff single in the ninth but recovered to slam the door and secure the win for Salem.
Jimenez dealt a gem, allowing one run on eight hits over six innings while fanning seven for the win. Weems coughed up two runs on three hits and two walks in 1.1 frames. Kelley earned the save, giving up two hits and fanning three in 1.2 scoreless frames.
The Sox will aim for the series split Wednesday night against the Hillcats, with southpaw Matthew Kent on the hill for Salem against Lynchburg right-hander Aaron Civale. First pitch from Haley Toyota Field is set for 7:05 p.m., and Ben Gellman’s pregame show starts at 6:45 on the Red Sox Radio Network.