SALEM – (Courtesy Salem Red Sox) - The Salem Red Sox made a game of it late but couldn’t pull off a brilliant comeback Friday night, dropping a 4-3 decision to the Down East Wood Ducks at Haley Toyota Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
The Red Sox (1-2) fell behind 4-0 by the fifth inning, but got the potential go-ahead run on base in the eighth before being retired. The Wood Ducks (2-1) picked up the victory in the third game of their inaugural series, relying on timely hitting and good speed on the bases. All three of the games between the two clubs thus far have been decided by only one run in each game.
Down East assumed the early lead in the top of the first against Sox starting pitcher Daniel McGrath (L, 0-1), who walked leadoff man LeDarious Clark. Clark stole second, and came home on a single by Eduard Pinto. A pickoff attempt from catcher Jhon Nunez skittered into right field, and Pinto took advantage, racing to third base. With one out and runners at the corners, Luis Mendez bounced into a fielder’s choice, plating Pinto and putting Down East up 2-0.
The Wood Ducks added a run in the top of the fourth, with Arturo Lara singling home Frandy De La Rosa, and got one more in the top of the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Luis La O and Pinto to make it 4-0 in favor of the Wood Ducks.
Salem got on the board in the bottom of the sixth against Wood Ducks reliever Peter Fairbanks (W, 1-0). Josh Ockimey led off with a single, and Jordan Betts drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Derek Miller fanned for the first out, but Chris Madera walked, and a fielder’s choice and groundout brought home Ockimey and Betts to trim the lead to 4-2.
Salem inched closer in the bottom of the eighth. Wood Ducks reliever Omarlin Lopez allowed a one-out double to Miller, and Madera singled him to third. New reliever Richelson Peña (S, 1) walked John Nunez to load the bases, and Deiner Lopez bounced into a fielder’s choice that scored Miller from third base. Bryan Hudson popped out to end the threat, though. In the ninth, Peña walked leadoff man Josh Tobias, who moved to second on a groundout by Mike Meyers. Josh Ockimey hit a hard ground ball into the hole at second base, and Luis Mendez made a terrific dive to corral it. However, instead of trying for Ockimey at first, he threw home to catch Tobias running for the plate. Ockimey had been waved to second on the attempt, and Chuck Moorman fired to the keystone after tagging Tobias out. Shortstop Arturo Lara slapped down the tag on Ockimey, completing an unusual 4-2-6 game-ending double play.
McGrath took the loss, surrendering all four runs on six hits and four walks over 4.1 frames; he fanned four. Gerson Bautista hit a couple of batters but was otherwise spotless in two innings of work, striking out four in his season debut. Trevor Kelley allowed only one hit in 2.2 scoreless innings of action while recording one strikeout.
The Sox will look to earn the series split Sunday afternoon against Down East, with 19-year-old Nicaraguan righty Roniel Raudes toeing the slab for Salem against Wood Ducks southpaw Brett Nicholas. The first 500 fans every Sunday will receive a FREE Player Poster, and this Sunday, we’ve got the whole team signing autographs before the game from 11:30 to 12:30! Plus, kids run the bases after every Sunday home game! First pitch is at 1:05 p.m., and Ben Gellman has the call on the Red Sox Radio Network starting at 12:45 p.m.