On Tuesday, June 28, the Wilmington Blue Rocks began their final home series of the month of June. The ballgame was the first of six scheduled meetings between Wilmington and the visiting Jersey Shore BlueClaws, which will carry into the early days of July.
The final result was a 4-2 victory in favor of the home team, as the Blue Rocks were able to edge out the BlueClaws on the offensive side of the ball. Much of that offense came from first baseman Drew Mendoza, who went three for four at the plate.
Mendoza’s first hit came in the bottom of the second inning; it was a home run that just went over the right field fence. The hit brought in two runs, as Israel Pineda and Mendoza both scored to give the Blue Rocks a 2-1 lead. It was the Rocks’ answer to a Jersey Shore home run hit by Casey Martin in the top of the inning, which originally gave the BlueClaws a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Martin hit a RBI double that tied the score up at two runs a piece. Mendoza returned the favor later that inning and hit a double to center field. He then scored the game winning run after the next batter, Ricardo Méndez, hit an RBI single that drove him in.
“It’s a great feeling,” Mendoza said. “We come out here every night trying to win, and anytime we can get a lead it feels great. We are always trying to keep the momentum in our favor.”
Mendoza’s night did not end in the fourth inning, though. In the sixth frame, he hit a line drive triple into right field. That shot extended the Blue Rocks’ lead to two scores, 4-2. That score would stand until the end of the ballgame.
While Mendoza was certainly the offensive star of the night, the Blue Rocks held their own on the defensive end.
Michael Cuevas, Wilmington’s starting pitcher, stayed on the mound for six innings and faced 24 batters. He struck out two of those batters, but only allowed two earned runs. Cuevas earned himself the win with a strong pitching performance just one day before his birthday.
The ball was then put in the hands of bullpen pitchers Malvin Pena and Jose A. Ferrer. They each struck out two batters, and neither allowed the BlueClaws to score any earned runs.
This game was Wilmington’s fifth victory over Jersey Shore this season. They had previously met back in May in a six-game series, which the Blue Rocks won four games to two. Wilmington will be looking to continue winning games against the BlueClaws, as they still have five more games left in this series and another six-game series later on in the season.
Manager Mario Lisson was asked about what the Blue Rocks are going to have to do in order to continue winning against the BlueClaws.
“We have to continue to throw the ball the way we are,” Lisson said. “At the same time, we need to continue having quality at-bats. We are going to make some pitching adjustments for sure, but we need to keep doing much of what we have been doing.”
The next game between the two division rivals will be played Wednesday, June 29, at 6:35 p.m.
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