Both the Greenville Drive and the Salem Red Sox won playoff games in dramatic fashion last night.
Salem moved ahead of Winston-Salem, 2-0, with an 11-inning, 6-4 victory. Starter Kyle Weiland continued an excellent stretch, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and one walk in seven innings. Weiland went seven innings for the third straight start, and he has struck out 55 batters in his past 63 innings.
Anthony Rizzo, whom manager Chad Epperson called one of the team’s best leaders, went 3 for 6 with two doubles. Jonathan Hee’s single to right in the 11th provided the final difference, scoring Salvador Sanchez and Zach Borowiak.
Salem has a certain feel about it right now. They won 11 of their final 16 regular seaon games to reach the postseason, coming from behind in several of them, including from a six-run deficit. “Down the stretch, we found another gear,” Epperson said yesterday afternoon. “When we found that gear, guys enjoyed playing in that gear. It’s been fun to be a part of fun. They’re into it.”
The Drive entered the ninth inning of their 3-2 victory trailing, 2-1. To lead off the ninth, Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who led all Sox minor leaguers in hom runs this season, and third baseman Will Middlebrooks launched back-to-back home runs to tie the game and then take the lead. The Drive walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but Kyle Rutter closed it out.
The last-inning heroics preserved a strong start by Stolmy Pimental, one of the Sox’ most promising pitching prospects. He allowed one earned run on five hits while striking out four in six innings.
Lowell’s game against Staten Island was postponed. Lowell leads the series, 1-0.