ROLLIN’: Getting strong pitching and some late-inning firepower from their offense, the Salem Red Sox overcame a subpar defensive effort to defeat the Wilmington Blue Rocks 7-3 on Thursday in front of 2,413 at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
The victory – Salem’s fifth in six games – moved the Sox (10-9) over .500 for the first time this season.
NO MESSING AROUND: Sox starter Mike Augliera (3-0) lasted seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits. The all-time wins leader at Binghamton University – “I have yet to meet Tony Kornheiser,” he said – Augliera struck out six and walked one.
His attack-the-zone style wasn’t working out so well in the early going Thursday, as the Sox kicked the ball around. They committed three errors and turned several other playable balls into hits.
But Augliera battled, becoming the first Salem pitcher this season to last seven innings.
“Especially as a ground ball pitcher like myself, you’re going to expect that they’re not going to make all the plays at times,” Augliera said. “But they’re out there trying. Besides that one inning, they played great for me. They made all the plays I could ask for. I have no issues or complaints.”
HUSTLE PLAY: The game turned in the bottom of the sixth inning, when the Sox loaded the bases with two outs for No. 9 hitter Matty Johnson.
“Down two runs, I was like, ‘No matter where I hit this ball, I’ve got to try to make something happen,’” Johnson said.
Johnson hit a chopper toward first, which Daniel Mateo fielded several feet from the bag.
“I was all-out, saying I’m going to be safe here no matter what,” Johnson said.
He was, sliding head-first into the bag to elude a diving tag attempt by Mateo. Brandon Jacobs and Blake Swihart scored to tie the game.
TAKING CONTROL: Sean Coyle broke the deadlock leading off the bottom of the seventh with a booming home run – his fifth of the year and second in as many games. The Sox would tack on three more runs in the inning, with Keury De La Cruz and Blake Swihart delivering RBI hits.
LOOSE ENDS: Virginia Tech alum Matt Price closed things out with two scoreless innings, allowing no hits and walking one…Garin Cecchini had another two-hit night to raise his average to .353.
ON DECK: The Sox welcome Lynchburg – and the monkey rodeo – at 7:05 tonight, with Salem RHP William Cuevas (1-1, 6.39) opposing Hillcats RHP David Peterson (0-2, 3.07).