On Wednesday, May 18, the Wilmington Blue Rocks took on the Jersey Shore Blueclaws for the second game of their six-part series. What would follow was a swift, 6-2 defeat to continue the Blue Rocks’ four-game winning streak.
The two teams wasted no time to start scoring. In the second inning BlueClaws’ Karl Ellison sent in the first run of the night after he singled with a ground ball to right field, sending McCarthy Tatum home and Baron Radcliff over to second.
The Blue Rocks were quick to answer back and double down on their performance with a two-run home run by Drew Mendoza. This was Mendoza’s second home run of the season and pushed the game to 2-1 in Wilmington’s favor.
“Mendoza, the last few games, he’s been crushing the ball,” Manager Mario Lisson said. “They’re all getting better and our main goal is to continue to get better.”
The Rocks didn’t let up on the gas in the bottom of the third and continued to score. Yasel Atuna made quick work of the ball when he doubled on a line drive to right field, sending Jordy Barley and Darren Baker home to push the team’s lead to 4-1.
The BlueClaws made several attempts to cut their deficit, with Ellison hitting his second RBI of the night to set the score at 4-2, but the Blue Rocks refused to stop. In the bottom of the fourth, Ricardo Mendez hit a line drive down center to send Mendoza and Kevin Strohschein home, adding another two runs to their tally for a 6-2 lead.
Scoring would stop there for both teams as the Blue Rocks’ defense ramped up and their pitching stayed strong. Michael Cuevas struck out four hitters in his seven innings of play, throwing 58 strikes over 90 pitches. Relief pitcher Lucas Knowles, who stepped in for Cuevas at the top of the seventh, stuck out five players, and closer Zach Brzykcy struck out six.
“Right now, the guys are on the stand and commanding it,” Lisson said. “You put your head in the count and you always put yourself in a better spot to attack hitters. I think that’s what we’re doing and we like what we’re seeing.”
Cuevas won the game for the Blue Rocks, marking his first win of the season. BlueClaws’ starting pitcher, Griff McGarry, was handed the loss.
The Blue Rocks will go on to face the BlueClaws on Thursday, May 18, where they will look to continue their winning streak during the third game of the series.
“Obviously you want to get the wins,” Lisson said. “But as long as these guys continue to develop and they can show the stuff that we practiced… that’s our main goal.”
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