By Brian Hoffman
The Salem Red Sox chance to win the second half of the Carolina League’s North Division isn’t dead, but it’s on life support after a disappointing series in Columbia last week. The Sox went 2-4 in the six game series to fall eight games behind first place Fredericksburg with 13 games to play.
After Salem won the first game of last week’s series, 5-2, Columbia won three straight games with “walk-off” hits. The Fireflies, a Kanas City Royals farm team, won by scores of 5-4, 8-7 and 4-3 before the two teams split weekend games, with Salem winning 5-4 Saturday and the Flies taking the getaway game, 2-0.
It was a frustrating week for the Red Sox, who needed some wins to keep their playoff hopes somewhat alive. Last Wednesday Salem rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth, only to lose 5-4 in the bottom of the inning. A night later the Red Sox tied the game at 6-6 in the top of the ninth, then led 7-6 in the 12th inning only to have Columbia tie the game at 7-7 in the bottom of the 12th and win it with a walk-off hit in the 13th. On Friday Salem led 3-1 into the bottom of the ninth only to have the Flies plate three runs for a third straight walk off win.
The frustrating stretch all but eliminated Salem’s chances of catching first place Fredericksburg, especially since two other teams are also ahead of Salem. Carolina comes into the week three and a half games behind the Nationals and Down East is five and a half back.
Salem will play a six game series in Augusta this week against the Greenjackets. An Atlanta farm team, Augusta is 26-27 in the second half while Salem is now 25-28.
The Sox will wrap up the season with a seven game series with Fredericksburg beginning September 6th. That series includes a doubleheader on Wednesday, September 7th.