When Edwin Salcedo was promoted to Greensboro two weeks ago, he was told not to expect much playing time. But after Tuesday's performance, that's likely to change.
The muscular native of Puerto Rico clubbed a fifth-inning grand slam home run and added two singles to lead the Hornets to a dramatic 7-5 win over the Charleston, WVa., Wheelers at War Memorial Stadium.The win snapped a three-game losing streak and upped Greensboro's second-half record to 3-11. It also came on the heels of one of the most frustrating games of the season, a 13-3 drubbing at the hands of the Wheelers Monday night.
``What a big blast,' Hornets' manager Trey Hillman said of Salcedo's grand slam. ``He's got the ability to do that a lot. He's young and fairly inexperienced, but with the kind of work ethic and attitude he has, he's got a shot to get some more playing time.'
The slam came in the fifth off Wheelers' starter and loser Doug King (2-1). Salcedo lined a King curve high over the left field fence, giving the Hornets a 7-2 advantage.
It provided Greensboro with barely enough cushion. The Wheelers closed the gap to 7-5 in the eighth and in the ninth put runners on second and third with two outs. The South Atlantic League's Northern Division leaders, however, squandered the opportunity when Darren Cox was thrown out at the plate to end the game.
Cox was attempting to score from third when a pitch from Bo Siberz got past catcher Kiki Hernandez. But Hernandez quickly recovered and threw out Cox on a close play.
``He's been in the game long enough to realize that his run only makes it 7-6 even if he's safe,' Wheelers manager Dave Miley said. ``He understands that it was a mistake on his part. When I held him up at third, I told him, hey, you're run doesn't mean anything. It's (the runner) at second that ties the game.'
Starter Ron Frazier, the Hornets' most effective pitcher of late, was the winner, improving his record to 7-2. Frazier gave up 10 hits through seven innings and was the beneficiary of four double plays, a high for the Hornets this season.
``I was pleased to get the win, especially against those guys,' Hillman said. ``Ron Frazier did a great job. We turned four double plays. Give credit to (second baseman) Richard Turrentine. He gets slammed a lot for the errors, but there's nobody in the league who turns the ball over better than he does. He does a great job.'
Greensboro opened the scoring in the third on Rick Lantrip's two-run home run.
Charleston narrowed it to 2-1 in the fourth on Tom Raffo's RBI double. The Wheelers evened the score at 2-2 in the fifth on Cox's sacrifice fly.
The Hornets put together their most productive inning of the second half in the bottom of the fifth. After one out, Lantrip singled, moved to second on a walk to Hernandez and scored on Luis Gallardo's single. After Sean Gilliam's single loaded the bases, Salcedo parked King's curve into the tennis courts.
``It just felt great, really great,' Salceco said in broken English.
Miley, the Charleston manager, said the Hornets are the same team that nearly edged the Wheelers for the first-half title.
``They're just slumping a little bit,' he said. ``It happens to everybody. It has happened to us and most likely it'll happen again. It's just something you have to play through. I don't think there's anything wrong with them.'
Charleston narrowed the deficit to 7-3 in the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Keith Gordon and Cox. In the eighth, Bobby Perna hit a two-run home run to move the Wheelers within striking distance at 7-5.
``We've got to make some things happen before we're going to get back in this thing, but I feel like a dark cloud lifted from us today,' Hillman said.
Tonight, lefthander Rafael Quirico (8-4) will be on the mound for the Hornets. His opponent will be lefthander Gino Minutelli who'll be making his second start for the Wheelers. Three weeks ago Minutelli was pitching for the Cincinnati Reds, but a groin injury forced him on the disabled list. Game time is 7:30.