Salem got ahead early and never let Kinston catch up, taking game one of the best of three Carolina League Southern Division Championship Series 10-3, Wednesday night at Grainger Stadium. With the loss, the K-Tribe faces elimination and must win game two Thursday night in Kinston.
Salem racked up 15 hits on the night, including three in the first inning. Wladimir Sutil started the game with a walk, followed by a single from Billy Hart. Sutil scored when Mitch Einertson grounded into a double play for the first run of the game. After a Mark Ori double, Chris Johnson uncorked a two-out, RBI single to put Salem up 2-0. The Avalanche scored another run in the second inning, when Orlando Rosales hit a two-out single. Sutil drove Rosales home with an RBI single to put Salem up 3-0. Salem took a 5-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Mitch Einertson hit a two-out, two RBI double scoring Jose Lopez and Rosales. Four of Salem’s first five runs came with two outs, all off of Kinston starter Jim Deters. Deters picked up the loss going four innings, giving up eight hits and five earned runs. Deters walked three and struck out five.
Kinston got back into the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when Whitney hit a solo home run, his 33rd in Minor League Baseball this season. Wes Hodges and John Drennen followed with back to back, two-out singles. Both scored when Salem third baseman Chris Johnson let a Jared Goedert chopper get down the line. Johnson was charged with the error and Kinston cut the lead to 5-3. That was as close as they would get as Salem added a Tim Torres home run in the fifth and picked up an unearned run in the sixth inning. Kinston had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but Salem brought in reliever Chris Blazek who struck out Beau Mills and ended the threat. Blazek went on to retire the final six batters in the game, getting the save. Avalanche starter Sergio Perez got the win, giving up six hits and one earned run in six innings.
Kinston returns to Grainger Stadium for game two of the Southern Division Championship Series Thursday at 7pm. Kinston will send Frank Herrmann (11-5, 4.01) to the mound against Salem’s Polin Trinidad (2-1, 2.81). It will be the final Thirsty Thursday of the season at Grainger Stadium with all 12 ounce beverages just one dollar.