Boston Red Sox outfielder Jason Repko hits a double in the sixth inning during their spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Spring training is over! And its end was marked by a dramatic Red Sox win--or at least as dramatic a Red Sox win as you can get when the games don't count for anything.
Clay Buchholz had a very mixed day on the mound. Frankly looking at his best for much of the game, he managed to make it through the fourth inning with a perfect game intact, featuring an especially impressive curveball as he mowed through the first twelve Nationals batters.
He would, however, have to sit through a rather long wait in the fifth as the Sox went about extending their lead from 2-0 (both runs scoring in the fourth) to 6-0. Dustin Pedroia would play a major role in both rallies, smacking two doubles to drive in three runs and scoring twice himself. Jacoby Ellsbury would also manage two hits, contributing a pair of singles to the scoring efforts against Edwin Jackson.
Coming back out for the fifth, Buchholz was at first the victim of some bad luck, seeing a pair of ground balls go for hits--one not even leaving the infield. Wilson Ramos' hit, on the other hand, was less a matter of chance, as the Nationals' catcher took a straight inside fastball and deposited it in the stands in center field. One inning later, and it was Ian Desmond catching a fastball of his own and hooking it for a solo shot.
The Sox would even give up the lead in the seventh, with a combination of Justin Thomas and Michael Bowden allowing five baserunners and three runs to allow the Nationals to take a 7-6 advantage. The Sox would respond in rapid fashion, however, with Daniel Nava launching a leadoff homer to tie the game at 7-7.
With Alfredo Aceves keeping the Nationals off the board in style in the eighth, the game went to the ninth tied. The inning--both halves--would end up belonging to two men: Daniel Butler and Jason Repko. Butler would lead off the inning with a single, making his way to third on a sacrifice and an error. From there, Repko would bring him home, doubling to right to give the Sox the 8-7 lead.
Chorye Spoone almost failed to hold on, however, walking Ian Desmond with two outs and then, after a stolen base, giving up a single to Danny Espinosa. Luckily for the Sox, the ground ball found none other than Jason Repko in center, who fired home to none other than Dan Butler. With a good block of the plate, Butler applied the tag and sealed the Red Sox' victory in their final game of spring training.