SALEM, Va. – The Potomac Nationals scored all four of their runs in the third and fourth innings and stymied the Salem Red Sox 4-3 on Saturday night at LewisGale Field.
Salem got things started in the bottom of the first inning, beginning when Manuel Margot reached on an error. Margot then stole second base and scored on a Tzu-Wei Lin double to right, giving the Sox an early 1-0 advantage.
Salem starter Kevin McAvoy was in control for the first two innings, but hit rough waters in the third. With runners on first and third, McAvoy walked Stephen Perez and ball four got away from J.T. Watkins, allowing Jimmy Yezzo to score from third. One batter later, Isaac Ballou drove a ball deep to right that Franklin Guzman misplayed and dropped. Christopher Bostick scored from second base on the error, giving Potomac the 2-1 lead.
The Nationals added to their lead in the fourth, as Drew Ward and John Wooten both singled to lead off the frame. A wild pitch gave them each an extra base before Yezzo drove in Ward with a sacrifice fly. Narciso Mesa laced a single in the next at bat, scoring Wooten and pushing the Nationals’ lead to 4-1.
McAvoy (4-4) was tagged for four runs, three earned, over 5.2 innings. He gave up eight hits and walked five while striking out two.
The Sox battled back to score two runs in the fifth inning and threatened for more. Potomac starter Nick Pivetta had retired twelve in a row before Forrestt Allday singled in the inning’s first at-bat. Two batters later, Deiner Lopez poked a single through the hole and Margot followed with an infield single to load the bases. Lin then sent a grounder up the middle that Bostick fielded but threw late to first as Lin beat it out for an infield single. Allday and Lopez both scored on the play to cut the deficit to 4-3. Lin provided most of the offense for Salem, going 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI.
Sam Travis then came up and skipped a grounder to third that Stephen Perez fielded deep in the hole. He had no throw to first, but Margot overran third base and Perez chased him down for the third out of the inning to end the threat.
Pivetta (3-2) took the win with six hits against over five innings while giving up three runs, two earned, and striking out four.
Williams Jerez was impressive out of the bullpen for Salem in his first High-A appearance. He struck out five and allowed only one hit over 3.1 shutout innings in relief of McAvoy. The Sox threatened by putting two on with two out in the eighth, but Potomac closer Nick Lee forced Forrestt Allday to line out, ending the chance. Lee retired the side in order in the ninth to pick up his sixth save of the year.
The squads will wrap up the four-game set on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. Denny Bautista (1-0, 4.91) starts for Salem against Potomac’s Lucas Giolito (1-3, 3.95). The first 500 fans will receive a Ty Buttrey player poster, which he will sign after the game. Plus, kids have the opportunity to run around the bases after the contest. Fans unable to attend can listen to the game on 1240 AM ESPN Roanoke, online at salemsox.com or via the TuneIn Radio app.