Salem Red Sox Win the Carolina League Championships
The roar of the crowd was deafening at Lewis-Gail Field on Tuesday, September 10th. Loyal fans of the Class-A Advanced Salem Red Sox poured in from the surrounding Roanoke area to enjoy the last game of the 2013 baseball season. The hard-working team spent the last two weeks competing in the playoffs and won every game leading up to the finals. With the lights glaring and sweat dripping, the boys ran out 2-0 against the Potomac Nationals. If they lost, another game was imminent; if they won, the Mills Cup was theirs.
The game began like any other. Small ball was being played whilst the people in the stands enjoyed specialty Bojangle’s boxes and beer. Suddenly, points were on the board. The Red Sox and Nationals were running neck and neck with singles and doubles, but a home run never came. The score danced back and forth from 2-0 to 2-2 to 3-2 and so on. As innings continued, the crowd grew more and more anxious for the success of their team.
As the hour grew closer to 10 PM, the gap narrowed and the top of the 9th finally arrived. The Salem Red Sox were ahead 6-4 with their closer, Matt Price, on the mound. Everyone at the Salem Memorial Ballpark was standing in anticipation. One out, two outs, threeâ€¦a thunder erupted and the dugout became a flood of blue and red jerseys, removed caps, and prideful young men. A sea of champions quickly surrounded Price in the outfield, jumping and cheering in time to the music with every soul there.
The Salem Red Sox won the Carolina League championships after an extremely grueling season. No one could have guessed it would be so earlier in the year; the team made a triumphant comeback as one of the lower ranked teams at the start of the season to winning the second half and qualifying as the wild card for the playoffs.
A brief ceremony was held on the field after the game with smiling fans beaming down upon them. The General Manger spoke a few words as well as the head of the Carolina League. They also presented Sean Coyle with the Most Valuable Player Award; Coyle spent the majority of the season recovering from a knee injury in Florida, but his return just two weeks shy of September left a lasting impression as one of the better players on the team. Finally, the players ended the night as rock stars, with the age-old sports tradition of dumping a cooler of Gatorade over their manager while the speakers blasted Queen’s “We are the Champions.”