By: Joey Raymond
Headline Photo Credit: Robert Simmons-Salem Red Sox
SALEM, VA- The Salem Red Sox and the Lynchburg Hillcats enter today’s game with a 7-7 record and tied for second place. Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz takes the mound for the Salem Sox. Braunny Munoz takes the mound for Lynchburg. In a division that’s as tight as this one, you truly need to grab whatever wins you can. Especially when they come from your biggest rival, and that’s how both teams are feeling coming into this Sunday evening matchup.
The first pitch of the game is a broken bat ground ball to short and that kind of sums up the first inning for both squads. Both squads struggled to get out of their respective halves of the inning. The Sox walked several and committed an error before getting out of the inning. Lynchburg gave up the first run of the game by giving up a walk, stolen base, and a single, then committing a balk to bring the runner in. After some confusion from the umpires on the last “out” of the inning, the umpires ruled the runner was actually safe. That in turn means the runner on third scored and the Sox lead 2 to 0. After the first pitch returning to play, Manager Jordan Smith from Lynchburg got ejected from the game. He was arguing the last “out” call that ultimately got overturned. He said some choice words to the umpire and got thrown out of the game. The Sox kept the momentum in the first, scoring one more before getting out of the inning.
We don’t get much else action until the bottom of the third when the Salem Sox score on an RBI double from Allen Castro. They scored again shortly after that, on a hit-and-run single from Luis Ravelo. This gives Salem a 5 to 0 lead on the Hillcats. The offensive onslaught continued in the bottom of the third on an inside-out swing from Juan Chacon. He steals second and scores shortly after along with Ravelo on a single from Lyonell James to bring the lead to 8 to 0. The Sox scored once again on a double from Yorberto Mejicano, who moved over to third on a wild pitch, two pitches after his double. The bottom of the third ends shortly after.
Lynchburg finally breaks through in the 5th inning on the score column when Jordan Brown hits a massive home run to left center field. The Hillcats can’t push another run over on the scoreboard though as the Red Sox get a double play to get out of the inning. The Red Sox rebuttal the home run by scoring in the bottom of the fifth inning on an error committed by the Hillcats. The end of the fifth sees the Red Sox leading 10-1.
The rest of the game remains quite offensive on both sides. The Red Sox pull out a seemingly easy win against a tough opponent. In layman’s terms, it was not Lynchburg’s day today. The Hillcats’ offense couldn’t pull something together against a very good showing from the Salem Sox where Rodriguez-Cruz pitched masterfully through five innings only giving up a home run. The rest of Salem’s pitching staff pitched a one-hitter through the last three innings. Lynchburg didn’t have a pitcher go more than 2.2 innings, and even though they pitched well, Munoz giving up nine runs was just too much to overcome.
Up next for the two teams is an off day, which both teams could really use after a hard-fought series. This series was split right down the middle with both teams earning three wins and three losses. After that, the Salem Red Sox will move on to play at the Delmarva Shorebirds. The Lynchburg Hillcats go on to play host to the Fredericksburg Nationals. At the conclusion of the game the Red Sox stay firmly in second place as the Hillcats dropped into fourth place.