Salem opened the season last weekend when the Wood Ducks came to Salem, and the newest team in the Carolina League took three of four from the host Sox. Down East won the opener, 7-6, before the Sox evened the series with an 11-10 thriller on Friday night. The Ducks then took both weekend games, 4-3 on Saturday night and 9-3 on Sunday afternoon.
Salem set out on the first road trip Monday, beginning with three games in Lynchburg. Salem opened the first Route 460 series of the season with a 6-0 shutout of the ‘Cats on Monday night at Calvin Falwell Field.
The Sox allowed only five hits in the game and had four different players contribute multi-hit efforts on offense. The Hillcats (1-4) continued to scuffle offensively, stranding eight total runners in the game. Sox starting pitcher Dedgar Jimenez not only tossed a gem on the mound, but had to bat due to a lineup card mixup. He went 0-for-3, but became the first pitcher in the Red Sox era in Salem to bat in a game.
The Sox took the lead first in the top of the third against Lynchburg starter Shao-Ching Chiang (L, 0-1), as Deiner Lopez reached on a throwing error by second baseman Sam Haggerty. A groundout to third by Bryan Hudson advanced Lopez to second, and Josh Tobias drew a walk to put runners at first and second with two away. Mike Meyers hit a slow roller that Bautista fielded but threw away, and Lopez raced home to score and give Salem the 1-0 edge. The Hillcats intentionally walked Josh Ockimey to get to Jimenez, who bunted unsuccessfully three times and struck out to end the frame.
The Red Sox added on in the top of the sixth, as Ockimey led off with a single against Chiang. Jimenez struck out on a foul bunt, but Austin Rei singled Ockimey to second, and Chad De La Guerra socked a double to plate the runners ahead of him and run the lead to 3-0 in favor of the Sox.
Salem extended the lead once again in the seventh against reliever Justin Garcia, who gave up a leadoff single to Hudson and walked Tobias to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Meyers fanned, but Ockimey hit a sinking line drive that Ka’ai Tom dove for in left but missed. The ball rolled to the fence for a triple, scoring Hudson and Tobias. With two outs, Rei looped a double of his own to left field to plate Ockimey and give Salem the final 6-0 lead.
Jimenez got the win with superb pitching, firing six shutout frames with five strikeouts against two walks and four hits. Austin Glorius tossed two scoreless innings, with two strikeouts matched against a hit and a walk. Bobby Poyner allowed only a walk in the ninth inning, whiffing two.
Salem was scheduled to wrap up the series with games Tuesday and Wednesday in Lynchburg before heading to North Carolina today. The Sox return home Monday for a brief three game homestand with Wilmington on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, all at 7:05 pm.
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