Tanner Nishioka and Ryan Fitzgerald each drove in a pair of runs in a five-run, eighth-inning uprising that lifted the Salem Red Sox to a 6-0 win over the Carolina Mudcats, clinching at least a tie for the Northern Division title for the second half of the season.
After four and a half scoreless innings, Salem broke through in the bottom of the fifth inning as Nishioka brought home Jagger Rusconi with a sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. The eighth inning, however, is where the game was broken wide open as Kole Cottam made it 2-0 with an RBI single and Nishioka followed with another to increase the lead to 3-0. Victor Acosta drew a bases-loaded walk and Fitzgerald doubled to left to make it 6-0 and put the game out of reach.
The offense supported a brilliant pitching effort from Jhonathan Diaz, who tossed seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits and a walk with eight strikeouts. Dominic LoBrutto and Yoan Aybar each provided an inning of scoreless relief to close out the game.
Wilmington kept within shouting distance with a 6-0 win over Myrtle Beach and Potomac swept a doubleheader with Frederick to prevent Salem from clinching the division title outright.
ON DECK: Thad Ward (3-3, 2.33) take the mound against Carolina’s Wuilder Rodriguez (0-2, 9.95) in Salem’s penultimate game of the regular season. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m.