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Red Sox complete sweep of Hillcats

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Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014 11:33 pm

Wahoo wins this one: How hot is University of Virginia alum Reed Gragnani these days? He even drove in a run against a longtime nemesis Friday — a Hokie, no less.

Gragnani continued his torrid start to the season with a 2 for 4, three-RBI performance as Salem chased Virginia Tech alum Patrick Scoggin early and ripped Lynchburg 10-0 to complete a three-game sweep at Salem Memorial Ballpark.

Gragnani, who began the night second in the Carolina League in hitting, raised his average to .385. He actually did more damage against the Hillcats’ bullpen than he did against Scoggin, but he was glad to get a sacrifice fly against the fellow Richmond native as part of Salem’s two-run first inning.

“I actually know Patrick,” Gragnani said. “We faced each other in high school, Little League, growing up. Historically, he’s had my number. I got a lucky swing off him today, but he’s a great guy, great person, great pitcher. I was happy to face a guy that I knew.”

Tough night: Scoggin, making his first start of the season after six relief appearances, was touched up for five runs (three earned) on three hits and four walks. He departed without retiring a batter in the second — a six-run inning for Salem highlighted by Mario Martinez’s first home run.

In a groove: Salem’s pitching, meanwhile, was masterful. Brian Johnson and Kyle Martin combined on a five-hitter, with Johnson striking out eight over six innings.

Johnson has now thrown 12 straight scoreless innings after back-to-back shaky starts against Winston-Salem and Myrtle Beach.

“I think in his first couple outings, he relied too much on the curveball,” Sox pitching coach Kevin Walker said. “But the last couple outings he’s really started to trust his fastball. He’s throwing it for strikes, and he’s pitching inside very well, which is really starting to set up his curveball late and open up that outer half.”

Martin fanned three and allowed just one hit to pick up a three-inning save, improving his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 24 to 2.

Loose ends: The Sox (13-8) have won seven of eight…Sox DH David Chester had two RBIs, giving him nine in his past six games…Matty Johnson went 2 for 4 with a walk to raise his average to .284.

On deck: The Sox open a four-game series with Winston-Salem at 6:05 tonight, with Salem RHP William Cuevas (1-2, 8.49) facing Winston-Salem RHP J.B. Wendelken (2-1, 3.63).

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