Wilmington Blue Rocks Finish Their First Series of the Season On Top

Jake Irvin throwing a pitch against the Cyclones. Irvin would pitch three innings and record four strikeouts in his first outing of 2022. Sunday, April 10, 2022. - Staff Photographer / Ashley Craven

The Wilmington Blue Rocks started off the year with a three-game home stretch against the Brooklyn Cyclones. After splitting games with them in a doubleheader on Saturday, April 9, Wilmington captured the series victory the following Sunday by outscoring the Cyclones 4-1.

The game started off with Blue Rocks’ starting pitcher, Jake Irvin, on the mound. This game was Irvin’s first time pitching in the minors since 2019, as he had been recovering from Tommy John surgery.

His first opponent of the day, Rowdey Jordan of the Cyclones, was able to hit a single off him to start the game. However, Irvin would not let that spoil the rest of his time in the game.

“Pitching is kind of just a battle of one pitch at a time,” Irvin said. “You can’t get too ahead of yourself, and you can’t let the failure of your last pitch impact the success of your next one. It is all about creating those opportunities for yourself. One pitch at a time.”

Irvin lived up to those words, as he went on to pitch three innings and allow zero runs. He finished the day after the top of the third inning with four strikeouts and his team up 3-0.

“Honestly, I’m just blessed,” Irvin said. “It’s been a long way back, and it has been a long time coming. It’s just one of those days that you dream about, and I’m just thankful that the guys that were behind me today were there. It is a blessing and I had a ton of fun.”

After Irvin exited the game following the third inning, Wilmington’s bullpen prevented Brooklyn from eating into their lead. Other than a late, ninth inning run, the succeeding pitchers gave up no scores and only allowed three hits. As a unit, they struck out five batters. 

“The pen was outstanding,” Blue Rocks’ Manager Mario Lisson said. “They didn’t allow anything until the last inning. They did an amazing job attacking the zone.”

While the pitching was strong for Wilmington, they were complemented by a strong offensive outing from their batters. It all began in the first inning with four straight hits off Carlos O’Campo, the Cyclones’ starting pitcher.

Shortstop Jordy Barley, the leadoff hitter for the Rocks, started his day by hitting a triple off of O’Campo’s first pitch of the game. The next batter, designated hitter Onix Vega, drove in Barley after lining an RBI double to right-center field. After two more straight singles to that same spot of the field, Wilmington was up 3-0 before O’Campo was replaced by the inning-saving Colby Morris.

Despite the strong first inning, the bats were dry up until the eighth inning. The Blue Rocks added on a run thanks to an Omar Meregildo RBI, which put them up 4-0. However, Lisson would like to see his batters stay on top of opposing pitchers after starting off the day strong.

“It’s been good,” Lisson said. “But I think we can be a little bit better. They got to stay swinging in the strike zone. That’s the key to winning. As long as we continue to do that, we’ll be fine.”

The biggest batter of the day was Vega, who registered an RBI and followed that with a run of his own. On the day, he hit two doubles.

“It’s good to be back on the field and having fun,” Vega said. “I’m just doing my thing and trying to help the team win every day. I was looking for fastballs that were away today, which was what I got.” 

Vega, Irvin, and the rest of the Blue Rocks roster will follow up their 4-1 victory this Tuesday, April 12, as they begin their first six-game series of the year against the 3-0 Aberdeen Ironbirds.

Will the Blue Rocks be able to carry their momentum into that series, or will Aberdeen spoil the strong start to their 2022 campaign?

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