The Salem Red Sox offense, so potent for most of the first half, fell quiet at the worst possible time down the stretch as the Sox were swept 3-1 and 5-0 in a doubleheader Sunday by the Wilmington Blue Rocks at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington.
The Sox (40-29) amassed just six hits in the twinbill, and 13 hits over their last 124 at-bats of the first half for a .105 batting average. The Blue Rocks (39-31) won their sixth straight game to close the first half, and doomed Salem to their first four-game sweep at the hands of an opponent since the Carolina Mudcats did it from July 4-7 of 2016.
Salem’s losses dropped them into a tie with Lynchburg for first place in the Northern Division to close the first half, and Lynchburg’s 7-6 edge in the head-to-head rankings between the teams gives the Hillcats the first-half crown.
Salem led the division for most of the first half but lost the final five games of the half as Lynchburg passed them by. The Sox also had a game cancelled by rain in the past week, and just one win over those last six scheduled games would have won the first half for Salem.
The Sox can still make the playoffs by finishing first in the second half, and they can also make it if they finish second, providing Lynchburg also wins the second half.
The Carolina League all-star game was scheduled to be played in Salem on Tuesday. The second half of the CL split season begins Thursday and Salem will open with a seven game homestand, hosting Wilmington Thursday through Sunday, then entertaining Lynchburg for three games.