Wilmington Blue Rocks Close out the Series with an Aggressive Victory

Omar Meregildo catches a ball at first base. Meregildo went 3-5 on Sunday and was ejected from the game in the ninth inning. Friday, May 20, 2022. - Staff Photographer / Tyrese Williams

In what was the Wilmington Blue Rocks’ final match-up against the Jersey Shore BlueClaws for the series, the Blue Rocks immerged as the winner, taking the game 7-4 and the series 4-2.

The Blue Rocks got the game started in the bottom of the first after a double from Darren Baker and an RBI single from first baseman Omar Meregildo sent Baker in for the first run of the night.

The Blue Rocks kept the game action-packed in the bottom of the second when Kevin Strohschein hit a line drive down right field to get on first base. Strohschein would go on to quickly steal second and eventually reached home on a ground ball from Onix Vega. 

“I always try to stay aggressive,” Strohschein said. “I feel like bad things happen when you wait for stuff to come to you, and you kind of have to go get it.” 

However, the BlueClaws would begin to pick up the pace, scoring two, back-to-back home runs from Nicholas Torres and Uziel Viloria to even the game up at 2-2 during the top of the third. But the Blue Rocks didn’t let that deter them. Meregildo stepped up to the plate prepared and brushed off the third inning with a home run of his own, his fifth of the season. 

“I prepare my mind,” Meregildo said. “ I know I needed it deep and I needed to hit the ball and that’s it… and that’s the thing we, every day, are working on.”

Meregildo’s round trip would also send in Yasel Atuna, who had tripled on a ground ball to right field, and set the score 4-2. The score would remain the same until the top of the fifth when BlueClaws’ Johan Rojas hit his first home run of the season and cut Jersey Shore’s deficit to just one run.

Although unable to make any significant plays in the bottom of the fifth, the Blue Rocks would amend the score 6-2 after Baker hit his tenth double of the season– the highest on the team – to send Vega and Jordy Barley home. 

At the bottom of the seventh, Vega added the final run to the Blue Rocks’ tally for the day, sending Meregildo home on a ground ball to right field. 

Jersey Shore made one final stride at the top of the eighth. After Ethan Wilson reached on a throwing error by Blue Rocks’ shortstop, Barley, he would be sent in on a line drive by Casey Martin for the final run of the night at 7-4. 

Although having basically already secured a series win, the Blue Rock’s aggression didn’t die down. After attempting to secure another run for Wilmington, Meregildo was ejected from the game at the top of the ninth after he struck out to end the eighth. José Sánchez replaced Meregildo for the remainder of the game, although this had little bearing. 

Relief pitcher Gilberto Chu would be assigned the win for Sunday’s game, throwing 29 pitches and 21 strikes. On the BlueClaws, starting pitcher Matthew Russel was handed the loss after he threw 71-47 and committed the only wild pitch of the night.

This win against the Jersey Shore BlueClaws marks the Blue Rocks’ third-consecutive series victory for the team. However, Wilmington’s talents will be tested as they go on to face the top-ranked Aberdeen IornBirds on Tuesday, May 24. 

“We knew when we broke spring, we were kinda looking around like ‘this is a really good team,” Strohschein said. “So, I don’t know if we’d say we’re happy. But this is just what we expected to do.”

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