A rare 11 a.m. start between the Salem Sox and Wilmington Blue Rocks developed into a pleasurable lunchtime outing for the 1,846 fans in attendance. Despite a system that moved through the Roanoke Valley late Tuesday and early Wednesday (cutting Tuesday’s game to a short six inning loss), the game went on as the Sox came away with the win, 6-3.
On what was most likely an abrupt start to the day for the players, both teams kept pace with each other through the first five innings of play.
It was first basemen Matt Gedman bringing in the first run for the Sox on a RBI single that moved Mookie Betts over to third base. Following a wild pitch from the Wilmington pitcher, Betts and his natural stealing instincts allowed him to make it safely into home plate and tie the game at 2-2.
Initially, I did not expect a decent amount of fans to attend the game but I was wrong. There were a number of different groups inside Salem Memorial Ballpark. From a large group of kids on summer break to a number of retirees embracing the cool, cloudy mid-day game – now the sections weren’t packed out but many more than I anticipated!
One fan that was sure to catch everyone’s attention was the guy wearing the Mountain Dew helmet. Two bottles of Mountain Dew on each side (similar to a beer helmet) with a straw leading to the mouth from each side…I think it’s safe to say this guy was doin’ the Dew for the afternoon.
But back to baseball, it wasn’t until the sixth inning when Salem failed to match the run Wilmington put up as they took the lead 3-2.
And as RHP Kyle Kraus kept the Blue Rocks scoreless in the top of the seventh, the Sox came in and posed a rally in the bottom half on the inning.
With patience at the plate, three Salem batters were walked (that’s right THREE!) to load the bases for the beast, David Chester. But, it was another wild pitch unloading the bases as Natoli stole home to tie the game at 3. Chester did however hit a hard groundball into left field recording a RBI to score De La Cruz and take their first lead of the game.
Ensuing a pitching change for the Blue Rocks, Mookie Betts stepped in and ripped the new pitchers first toss into left field, recording a RBI and giving his team a two run lead.
With a three run inning in the seventh and momentum on the Sox side, the Boston classic ‘Sweet Caroline’ echoed throughout the stadium. One thing I’ve noticed about this song is when things are going well for the Sox, like they were today, the Ba! Ba! Ba! is simply irresistible for fans.
The Sox added to their lead in the bottom of the eighth recording another run and doubled up their opponent, taking away any hope for a comeback.
Coming out onto the mound in the ninth was Kraus again and he made quick work of Wilmington as he sat down the 5,6 and 7 batters down in order. This made nine batters up and nine batters down for Kraus who took care of the defensive duties from the rubber. Since he pitched a total of three innings, Kraus also earned the W.
Tomorrow (Thursday) game will feature Elvis Night in the ballpark where (hopefully) fans will bring out their inner-Elvis’ and put on a show in the stands while the Sox will look to start the series off with a win against Winston-Salem.