The Wilmington Blue Rocks were able to start their six-game series with the South Atlantic League’s top team, the Aberdeen IronBirds, with a 7-3 victory on Tuesday, June 21.
The Blue Rocks’ bats won them this matchup as they were able to double the number of hits the IronBirds recorded, ten to five. Included in those ten hits were two three-run homers from Wilmington’s Drew Mendoza and Omar Meregildo.
”We were good [today],” Blue Rocks’ Manager Mario Lisson said. “Ready for the fastball, ready to hit strikes, and when we do that, we have a good chance and the guys took advantage of that.”
Mendoza hit the first of the two Blue Rocks home runs of the night off Aberdeen’s starter, Houston Roth, in the bottom of the second. Wilmington’s first baseman got up to the plate down 1-0 with one out and base runners on first and third. Mendoza had a 1-2 count when he snuck his homer right into the Blue Rocks’ bullpen in right field.
“I was just trying to stay short,” Mendoza said. “I missed the change-up, just a pitch or two beforehand and then he threw a fastball up and in that I was able to stay on top of. So just a good pitch and one I got a good piece of.”
The homer put the Blue Rocks up 3-1, a score they would only expand upon. Meregildo’s three-run blast an inning later gave Wilmington a quick five-run lead over their division rivals.
“It was great, every week we want to come out the first game and put a good showing on,” Mendoza said. “To get the lead early, that was huge.”
While the offense was the key to victory for this matchup, Wilmington’s pitchers being able to keep their opponents from putting together a comeback was important as well.
“[Tonight’s pitching was] good, they’re obviously competing out there,” Lisson said. “Sometimes, a few pitches get out of their hands but they did a good job of competing and staying with it.”
The trio of starter Rodney Theophile and relievers Matt Merrill and Jose A. Ferrer were helped by the fact that the IronBirds left nine base runners stranded throughout the night. Their inability to capitalize on situations included not being able to bring in one run in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded.
It was the offensive spark of the Blue Rocks’ that was the real difference-maker in this matchup though, and with five more games ahead of them against Aberdeen, this was the way Wilmington wanted to start this series.
“It’s always good to start with a win in the series, we played good baseball today,” Lisson said. “We hit the ball pretty well and we pitched pretty well. Good defense too.”
The next matchup between the Blue Rocks and the IronBirds will take place on Wednesday, June 22, in Wilmington with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m.
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