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Leaving little to chance, the Salem Red Sox hammered Frederick to secure a postseason berth.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
With the Carolina League postseason almost at their fingertips, the last thing the Salem Red Sox wanted to do was back their way in. With a magic number of one going into Thursday’s game with the guest Frederick Keys, there were only a few potential outcomes
“I think everybody wanted to celebrate after a win rather than waiting for [Carolina] to lose,” Salem first baseman Matt Gedman said.
The Red Sox (72-64) made it happen by pounding the Keys 10-1 at Salem Memorial Stadium with 3,625 in attendance.
Gedman doubled in three straight at bats and drove in four. David Chester homered and drove in three, Mookie Betts continued his hot streak with two more hits and three runs scored, and starting pitcher Luis Diaz handcuffed the Keys on five hits through seven shutout innings in only his second Carolina League start.
Meanwhile in Lynchburg, the Mudcats beat the home team 7-4 in the first game of a Thursday twinbill but the victory went for naught.
“We knew what was on the line and we knew we had to get it done,” said Betts, who went 2 for 4 with a walk to raise his average to .325 through 77 games. “Everybody worked very hard in BP and taking ground balls. We took things very seriously.”
Salem led 9-0 after four. After that, the only remaining question figured to be the final victory margin. The stress level was low at the point, even lower when Diaz’s work was thrown into the equation.
“I really like the way that guy competes,” Salem manager Billy McMillon said.
In 13 innings since being promoted from Greenville Aug. 20, Diaz has given up three earned runs and won both starts. He’s a 21-year-old 6-foot-3 209-pound right-hander from Valencia, Venezuela.
“I try to keep my fastball down and use my other pitches slider and changeup,” he said. “That’s what I did all night, throw my fastball then come back with the changeup and slider.”
Diaz walked two and struck out six.
Gedman, who had a team-high four RBIs, was the only Sox player with three hits. Catcher Blake Swihart, Betts, and Chester each had two hits.
“Last couple of days I was working on my swing a little bit,” Gedman said. “The team is playing great so there’s no pressure on anybody to do more than their fair share. When you have guys holding up their end of the bargain and really playing well, it’s simple to play the game.”
The Red Sox start the three-game opening playoff series at home Wednesday against Myrtle Beach.
“If you don’t get the job done, then you know somebody else on this team will,” Gedman said.
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