HOLDING FIRM: One night out of falling out of first place, the Salem Red Sox rebounded with a crucial win.
Keith Curcio delivered the go-ahead single in the bottom of the third inning, and Salem’s bullpen contributed four scoreless innings as the Sox defeated the Lynchburg Hillcats 4-2 on Thursday in front of an announced crowd of 3,030 at Haley Toyota Field.
Salem (26-20 second half), which dropped the first two games of this three-game series, remained a half-game behind Potomac in the Carolina League’s Northern Division. The Nationals knocked off Frederick 8-2 on Thursday.
DECISIVE FRAME: Trailing 1-0 entering the bottom of the third, the Sox mounted a two-out rally that began with a Devlin Granberg walk. Pedro Castellanos doubled home Granberg to tie the game, and Curcio followed with a grounder into right field that gave Salem the lead for good.
SWEET RELIEF: The Sox bullpen entered Thursday with a 1.18 ERA through the first week of August.
That went down after this one.
Summoned in the sixth inning to protect a one-run lead, right-hander Andrew Politi retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced. He was one out of way from closing out the game before an infield single by Steven Kwan and a single by Tyler Freeman ended his night.
A 15th round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft out of Seton Hall, Politi has been with Salem all season. After fanning six more batters in this one, he’s struck out 75 in 61 2/3 Carolina League innings.
Recent roster addition Logan Browning came in to retire Mitch Reeves on a liner to left for the final out.
INSURANCE POLICY: The Sox pressed their lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, when Tanner Nishioka singled home Keith Curcio with two outs.
The Sox looked like they might have another run as Victor Acosta raced around third and tried to score. The throw home from shortstop Freeman was to the first base side, but the home plate umpire ruled that catcher Mike Rivera got the tag on Acosta in time.
Sox skipper Corey Wimberly argued the play briefly before acquiescing.
GIMME FIVE: Salem starter Dylan Thompson earned his second straight victory against Lynchburg, working around a lot of traffic to pitch five innings of two-run ball.
Thompson allowed five hits and issued five walks while striking out just one. He turned the ball over to the bullpen after throwing 87 pitches — only 48 of them for strikes.
ON DECK: The Sox hit the road to start a three-game series at Carolina beginning at 7 p.m. Friday. Salem LHP Jhonathan Diaz (7-6, 4.24) is slated to start the opener.