PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: Frustrated with their lack of offense in recent games, the Salem Red Sox found a solution on Wednesday afternoon: Just stand there and watch.
Drawing a season-high 10 walks, the Sox twice rallied from behind to overtake Wilmington 6-3 in a midweek matinee at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
“I guess these last couple days we’ve really been trying to push stuff across and not seeing so many pitches,” said rightfielder Nick Natoli, who set the tone by drawing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the first inning. “The first guy was kind of a little bit wild, so we just told ourselves to be patient and make him make some bad pitches.”
TAKE YOUR BASE: Stefan Welch drew three walks, while Natoli and Carson Blair added two apiece as the Sox fell two shy of the Salem record for this ballpark.
All six of the Salem baserunners who scored got on via the free pass.
“I think it’s just having a good at-bat that’s contagious,” Natoli said. “You can go up there, you might be really, really anxious, and then you take a couple balls and the guy behind you on deck gets to see the pitcher more from the on-deck circle. So I think it just helps in the long run.”
TURNING POINT: With Salem trailing by a run, Natoli started the decisive rally in the seventh with – what else? – a walk. Keury De La Cruz and Welch followed with the same to load the bases.
David Chester and Mookie Betts then delivered RBI singles to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead.
ANYONE FOR A NIGHTCAP? The rare 11 a.m. start was a challenge for players accustomed to sleeping at least that late, but the benefits of afternoon games are felt afterwards.
“I love ‘em,” said Welch, who was considering seeing a movie with his fiancé Wednesday night. “I love playing day games. I don’t know why. I can just see [the ball] a lot better. It’s good to get the rest of the afternoon off…You can go have dinner, just relax a little bit, and then come back tomorrow and do it all again.”
LOOSE ENDS: Deven Marrero had two of Salem’s seven hits…Kyle Stroup and Kyle Kraus bookended a bullpen-by-committee effort with three scoreless innings apiece.
ON DECK: Salem opens a three-game home series against Winston Salem at 7 p.m. Thursday, with Sox RHP Heri Quevedo (4-5, 4.60) scheduled to face RHP Braulio Ortiz (0-0, 5.40). – Aaron McFarling