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Salem falls to Potomac 9-5

Red Sox host 1800 school children on Education Day

SALEM, Va. – Courtesy: Ben Gellman/Salem Red Sox 

The Salem Red Sox were out-slugged Wednesday, losing the rubber match of their three-game series to the Potomac Nationals 9-4 at Haley Toyota Field in Salem.

The Sox (8-6) didn't get even a full inning from their starting pitcher, and trailed before they even got a chance to come to the plate. Potomac (8-6) drew level with the Sox atop the Northern Division of the Carolina League and took the series two games to one. Salem relievers tossed 18.1 of the 27 innings against Potomac throughout the series.

Potomac opened the scoring very early against Salem starter Darwinzon Hernandez (L, 1-1), who walked leadoff man Blake Perkins before striking out Carter Kieboom. However, Hernandez then hit Austin Davidson and gave up an RBI single to Jake Noll. Jakson Reetz flew out to left field, but Hernandez walked David Masters to load the bases, and issued another walk to Jack Sundberg to score a run. Hernandez was yanked for reliever Hildemaro Requena, who fired a wild pitch that brought Noll home before Bryan Mejia served a two-run single into right field. When the dust had cleared, the Nationals had earned a 5-0 lead.

Salem got a few runs of their own in the bottom of the first against Potomac starter Tyler Mapes (W, 2-0), who surrendered a leadoff single to Santiago Espinal before walking Tyler Hill and Bobby Dalbec to load the bases. Jerry Downs laced a single through the right side to score Espinal and Hill, with Dalbec reaching third on the play. Ryan Scott then hit a soft grounder to third that brought in Dalbec on a 5-3 groundout, trimming the Potomac advantage to 5-3.

The P-Nats extended their lead in the top of the fifth, as Requena walked Kieboom to lead off the frame before giving up a one-out single to Noll. Reetz flew out to right, but Masters and Sundberg connected for back-to-back two out singles to score Kieboom and Noll. Jhon Nunez threw down to second trying to pick off Masters, but his throw was errant and rolled into center field, allowing Masters to scoot to third. Mejia then blooped a single to left, and Scott and Espinal collided, with both Masters and Sundberg scoring on the ensuing play to make it a 9-3 lead for Potomac.

Salem trimmed the lead down by a run in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs, Dalbec hammered a fastball from reliever Jorge Pantoja (S, 1) over the fence in right-center for his league-best fourth homer, making it a 9-4 game. Salem tacked on one more in the bottom of the ninth, as Chris Madera earned a one-out walk before Nunez singled him to second base. Trenton Kemp flared a single into shallow center, and Madera slid in just under the tag from Reetz to cut the lead to 9-5 with two runners still on base. However, Carlos Tovar lined out to Mejia at second, and Espinal flew out to Sundberg in right to end the game.

Hernandez was rocked for five runs on one hit and three walks, retiring only two batters and getting one strikeout. Requena gave up four runs on five hits and three walks, striking out two in 4.1 innings. Hunter Smith was spectacular over a career-high four innings of shutout relief, allowing one hit and fanning three.

The Sox will try to get back on the winning track Thursday as they open a four-game series at the Winston-Salem Dash, with righty Tanner Houck drawing the start for Salem against Dash righty Ricardo Pinto. First pitch from BB&T Ballpark is at 7:00 p.m., and the pregame show with Ben Gellman and Suzie Cool begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Red Sox radio network.