For the first time this series, the Wilmington Blue Rocks fell to the Jersey Shore BlueClaws 5-4 on Thursday, May 19, and broke their four-game winning streak.
It was a close battle between the two inner-division rivals, but after a combination of poor baserunning choices and sloppy plays in the field from the Blue Rocks, the BlueClaws were able to take advantage and, ultimately, come out victorious.
The mistakes started early for the Blue Rocks as a mishandled ground ball by second baseman Darren Baker from Johan Rojas allowed Rojas to reach first. Rojas would eventually be driven in by a two-RBI double from Nick Matera to give the BlueClaws the 2-0 lead.
This would not be the last time that Baker’s defense would cost Wilmington a run as later in the seventh, he mishandled another ground ball, which resulted in an error and the game-winning run to score.
While this type of performance is never something a manager wants to see from their team, Blue Rocks Manager Mario Lisson would be more concerned if these were mental mistakes.
“Physical errors are a part of the game,” Lisson said. “Whatever errors that we do [make], if they’re physical, I’m ok with it, it’s a part of the game.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Blue Rocks finally got things rolling in the bottom of the fourth when Onix Vega hit a two-RBI double of his own to tie up the game at 2-2. This would mark the first of two hits he would have throughout the night.
“It felt good. I went in with a plan today, attack the fastball more,” Vega said. “I felt great my first at-bat, I hit a line drive to center field and I’ll build from that. I got my confidence back.”
The game would remain tied until the bottom of the fifth when the Blue Rocks’ smart base movement led to two runs. First, Ricardo Mendez would put down a sac bunt to bring in a run. Then, with Jeremy Ydens on third, Yasel Antuna would bait the BlueClaws into attempting to pick him off, which would lead to a throwing error, allowing Ydens to steal home.
Unfortunately, this smart baserunning would be outweighed by poor baserunning decisions made by the Blue Rocks throughout the night. Most notably, in the seventh, Antuna would be tagged out trying to get to third from first off a Kevin Strohschein single, which ended the inning.
“I think we were, at the end, a little too aggressive trying to get to third base, but it’s part of the game,” Lisson said. “We’re trying to teach these guys and understand the situation and hopefully we can learn from this.”
All these mistakes kept Wilmington from adding more runs on the board, so when Jersey Shore hit two solo home runs and then capitalized on Baker’s fielding error, that was all they needed to take game three of this series.
The Blue Rocks still remain ahead 2-1 in the series as they head towards the back stretch of it, and now they know what they have to work on to ensure they don’t drop anymore games.
“We have to continue to attack the strike zone,” Lisson said. “And make sure we’re running the bases the right way.”
Game four of this series between these two teams will take place on Friday, May 20, at 6:35 p.m.
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