Consider it brunch and baseball.
An 11:06 a.m. first pitch (the earliest of the season and earliest I’ve ever been present for) sort of set the tone for both teams this past Monday morning.
Both teams began with what some would call ‘a case of the Mondays’ by not scoring in the first inning; looking fairly sluggish. Though it didn’t take too much longer for either team to wake up, shake it off and put some runs on the scoreboard.
Whether the time played a factor or not, the offense that followed the first inning couldn’t go with notice. And it was the back-and-forth offensive action that created much of Monday’s entertainment.
After falling behind Myrtle Beach and the Jorge Alfaro home run bomb that started the scoring, the Sox responded with three runs of their own in the second inning. Responsible for the Salem offense was Matty Johnson, who set the bar by ripping a double that scored three as the bases were loaded but quickly cleared; making the score 3-1.
The Pelicans didn’t hesitate to retaliate. Third basemen, Joey Gallo sent one well outside of the park, scoring two runs, knotting the score back up at 3 a piece leaving the two teams at yet another stalemate.
Salem was able to flare up again in the fourth thanks to a trio of hitters that added an RBI to their stat line. Carson Blair, Ryan Dent and Kevin Heller all recorded an RBI, which gave Salem a three-run lead heading to the fifth and sixth innings.
(After regaining the lead this time, I was almost sure pitcher Madison Younginer would be able to shut the door on the Pelican hitters…I was wrong.)
With a prospect-filled lineup for the Pelicans, they were able to yet again mount and throw an offensive punch right back into the face of Salem.
A four-run sixth inning and a one-run seventh paved the way for Myrtle Beach to grip the momentum away from Salem. And it would be the last time that the momentum-pendulum would swing all afternoon with the score 9-6 in favor of the Pelicans.
Despite their hot start (which has been the key to victory), the Sox suffered their first series sweep of the 2014 season. Just a week ago, Salem swept the Pelicans on their home soil in Myrtle Beach. So it’s safe to say the Pelicans got their revenge but with only eight teams in the Carolina League, Salem will have plenty of chances to return the favor this year.
“They made a great adjustment. Something they (Myrtle Beach) did this four-games was pound the strike zone. They pitch well, they had some clutch hitting, and they’re a tough club,” explained the Sox manager, Carlos Febles
Tomorrow marks the beginning of a week-long “vacation” for the Sox. They will travel to the state of North Carolina to face Carolina and Winston-Salem for three games apiece. It will be the first time Salem has seen Carolina and the second time they have seen Winston-Salem and though there has been some early injuries, there is still team-wide concerted effort to win every single game.
“We have a good group of guys, we just need to be healthy. With three starters out (Vinicio, Gragnani, Tavarez), we’re kind of short right now and I think if we get fully healthy, we’ll be fine,” said Febles. “We do have good offense, good pitching and our defense is pretty good too. I just want to see all the guys back so we can have a full go.”
During the next six away games, Salem will make an effort to get players healthy and boost their number in the win column before returning to Salem on April 23 to face the cross-town rival, Lynchburg for the first match up of 2014.
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