The Greek letters were out, the kegs were tapped and the ballpark was swarming with college colors from across the country. Most of which came from Virginia Tech and Radford though I did see some colors from Tennessee, Michigan State, Marquette, Green Bay, and of course the hometown school, Roanoke College.
And as most would assume, the majority of the Salem Red Sox players were standout college players…so why not draw the spotlight again to represent your alma mater for the theme night?
Well, after crushing another home run (just like Thursday) I had to ask the hard-hitting, Pittsburgh alum, David Chester the same question.
“It makes us feel good about ourselves, especially knowing people recognize what we’re doing. We had a great turnout tonight, it was awesome and I hope we can a lot more like tonight,” explained Chester. “The fans really did a good job during the game, they were heckling and doing all that. It felt almost like a mid-week series in college when they were getting on the other team and stuff like that, it was a lot of fun. I think we probably pulled up that energy a little bit, when we hear people in that stands, it boosts us up quite a bit.”
Yet, Salem started the game with their newest member on the mound, Pat Light. After being called up from Greenville (Salem’s low-A affiliate) less than 48 hours before starting, Light drove through the Carolinas into Salem to get a taste of the Carolina League.
Light started the game off by giving up a run in the first inning and then followed up by striking out four batters. Despite being pulled in the third inning after a trio of Lynchburg runs, I thought the stuff Light dealt was rather good.
(There was just something devious about that third inning. Two different 0-2 counts, a few questionable calls from the umpires and a wave of momentum for Lynchburg, Salem just couldn’t catch a break)
The momentum would soon turn in favor of Salem, thanks again to David Chester. Following his blast in the second inning, Chester ripped an RBI-triple off the wall in the fifth that essentially pushed the Sox back into gear. After Chester, Carson Blair stepped into the batters box and ripped a ball just shy of the warning track and though Blair was called out, Chester was able to trot across home plate with ease; giving Blair the RBI and tied the game at 5.
Still in the fifth, Reed Gragnani drew a walk and Aneury Tavarez followed up by hitting a ball off the wall (which would’ve gone out in any other ballpark) that allowed Gragnani to cross home plate; giving Salem a one-run lead heading into the sixth.
Salem was able to add two more insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings to make the score 8-5 and there would be no more runs scored on the night.
Compliments to their defense (again), the Sox were able to hang on to the lead for the final three frames; sending the college tainted crowd of 3,601 home with a win and a big ole smile. Not before the loudest and most collaborative “Sweet Caroline” ensemble of the season sung by no one other than the Salem fans!
The Sox will close out their series with Lynchburg tomorrow night (Friday) and begin a new series with Winston-Salem on Saturday night when the Sox will look to slide back into the top spot of the league.
Friday will feature fireworks following the game and Saturday will feature Star Wars Night! Last year, Star Wars Night didn’t disappoint the slightest bit and I recommend you come see the costumes for yourself!
Later this week, Insider Extra will feature “A day off with the Sox” and a one on one interview with Sox left fielder, Kevin Heller. Be sure to stay up to date with the Salem Sox Insider at TheRoanoker.com or follow me on twitter (@dferg06).