Wilmington Blue Rocks Come Back to Defeat Brooklyn Cyclones in Series Opener

Ricardo Mendez reaches home earlier this season. Mendez would be the one to send the winning-run home in the Blue Rocks' 6-5 victory over the Cyclones Tuesday night. Friday, May 20, 2022. - Staff Photographer / Tyrese Williams

After spending the past two weeks on the road, the Blue Rocks returned to Wilmington this past Tuesday, June 14, for the first of their eight games against the Brooklyn Cyclones.

This is the third series out of five that will feature the Cyclones vs. Blue Rocks. Wilmington won the first series 2-1 during their opening weekend in April.

They then won three out of four games in Brooklyn, but that series was originally scheduled to be a six-game series. Two of those games will be made up during the eight meetings that these two squads will have in Wilmington.

Tuesday’s game was credited as a part of the fresh, six-game series that was played on its originally scheduled date. The final result was a 6-5 come-from-behind victory for the Blue Rocks.

The game featured a lot of offense, which was surprising considering that both Wilmington (.354) and Brooklyn (.344) are both among the South Atlantic League’s (SAL) bottom three teams in terms of slugging percentage. 

In the first four innings alone, there were eight total runs scored, which accounted for 73% of the game’s total runs. The game was tied up at four runs a piece by the bottom of the fourth.

Brooklyn seemed to be all over Wilmington’s defense to start the night, as they had eight hits off of starting pitcher Seth Shuman in the first five innings. They took a 5-4 lead in the sixth inning. 

This certainly was a shock to the Blue Rocks, as they have only allowed an average of seven hits a game this season. They are also the SAL’s best pitching team in terms of ERA at 3.49.

Despite the Cyclones’ strong start, the Blue Rocks had an answer for them on both sides of the ball. 

Defensively, the work of the bullpen only allowed the visitors to get one hit over the span of the final four innings. Garvin Alston was the game’s winning pitcher for his work in the eighth inning, while Jose A. Ferrer was credited with the save. 

“Pitching has been the strongest part of our game recently,” Wilmington Manager Mario Lisson said. “We need to continue to execute in close situations like we were in tonight. Ferrer has a good fastball and changeup. His slider has been working. He will be in the backend of games most of the time.”

Despite the help that the team received from its bullpen in the second half of the game, the Blue Rocks’ ability to answer the Cyclones’ attack on the offensive end was what helped them win. By the conclusion of the night, Wilmington had registered ten hits.

“We came back from behind three times today,” Lisson said. “We showed a lot of fight on the offensive side, which gave us a good opportunity to stay in it.”

While it was a team victory in the end, Ricardo Mendez was the offensive star of the day for the Blue Rocks. 

Coming into this series, he had two straight games with a hit. However, on Tuesday he posted two hits and three RBIs. His second hit came in the eighth inning, which drove in the game-winning run.

Following the game, Mendez commented on how he felt about his big night and recent success.

“I haven’t changed anything about my routine,” Mendez said. “I just continue to work. In this sport, you will either have good moments or bad moments. Tonight was a good moment for me. I feel great for both the team and myself.” 

On Wednesday, June 15, the Blue Rocks will host the Cyclones twice in double-header fashion. Will Wilmington continue to feast on Brooklyn, or will the Cyclones halt their opponent’s recent momentum?

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