By Brian Hoffman
Don’t count the Salem Red Sox out just yet. Last week the Sox took four of six games in Kannapolis to pull within six games of first place Fredericksburg in the Carolina League’s North Division second half standings.
Salem entered last week eight games behind Fredericksburg, but the Nationals went 2-4 at home against Augusta while the Sox went 4-2 in Kannapolis. Salem had cut the lead to five games Saturday, but on Sunday the Nat’s won and Salem dropped a 4-3 decision to the Cannon Ballers.
Both losses at Kannapolis were one run games. Salem took the opener, 5-3, as Gabriel Jackson got the win but Kannapolis won the second game of the series, 7-6. Salem’s offense came alive in the next three games, winning 10-1, 11-9 and 7-0 as Wikelman Gonzalez, Luis De La Rosa and Miguel Suero combined for a two hit shutout. Gonzalez had a no hitter after six innings when he was relieved by De La Rosa after throwing 81 pitches, of which 49 were strikes. The Ballers broke up the no-hitter with a single off De La Rosa in the seventh and Suero allowed one hit while pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
On Sunday Salem led 3-2 into the bottom of the seventh but Kannapolis touched Adenys Bautista for two and the Cannon Ballers took the get-away game, 4-3. Eddinson Paulino had three hits for the Sox.
This week Salem is home to face Delmarva in a six games series, with 7:05 pm games Tuesday through Friday, a 6:05 pm game Saturday and a 5:05 pm Sunday game at Salem Memorial Ballpark. Delmarva, a Baltimore Orioles farm team, comes in 10 games under .500 while Salem is 20-21 in fourth place in the North Division, a half a game behind Carolina, a game and a half behind Down East and six behind Fredericksburg. Salem’s last seven games of the season are at home against Fredericksburg. The Nats are at Lynchburg this week.
This week’s homestand includes College Night tonight, Elevation Night on Friday and Military Appreciation Night on Saturday. Post game fireworks are Friday.