The Wilmington Blue Rocks returned from the All-Star break on Friday, July 22, to face off against the Hudson Valley Renegades with a slightly different-looking roster.
Despite three key players – Darren Baker, Omar Meregildo, and Israel Pineda – moving up to the Harrisburg Senators prior to Friday night’s matchup, Wilmington was able to leave the field with the 6-5 victory, but it took ten innings to do so.
The Blue Rocks started off the night strong, with starter Mitchell Parker pitching a one-two-three top of the first inning and the offense getting on the board right away in the bottom half.
Wilmington’s lineup used small ball to drive in runs, as three of the four scored in the first inning were off RBI singles. The Blue Rocks’ newest addition to the team, Leandro Emiliani, contributed to that total in his first at-bat with the team.
“I mean, I’m excited for the new players because the guys play Low-A, they do a really good job,” Blue Rocks’ outfielder Ricardo Méndez said. “I saw the guys, they execute the plays, and I’m excited for that.”
While the fresh talent was making an impact on the offensive side of the ball, it was a familiar face in Parker holding it down on the mound. After breezing through two innings, the left-hander managed to work out of trouble in the third and kept the Renegades off the board despite loading the bases with no outs.
“[It was] stressful,” Parker said. “Putting the two guys on, hitting the guy, walking him [Carlos Narvaez], giving up a little base hit. To just be lucky enough to get a couple fly balls to get out of that inning with no damage.”
There would be no damage to Parker’s stat line until the sixth when a fielding error on what would have been the last out of the inning allowed T.J. Rumfield to reach first and Jasson Dominguez to score Hudson Valley’s first run of the night. The starter remained unfazed and was able to strike out the next batter to conclude his last inning of work.
Parker ended his night after a solid six innings, allowing one run, and two hits while recording six strikeouts.
“[My control was] definitely a lot better than it’s been. I mean, I’m only getting two walks on the day,” Parker said. “Obviously, hitting the guy is not the best, but we were able to limit the pitch count and be able to get out there for the sixth inning, so that’s definitely going the right direction.”
Despite the fact that Parker left the game with the win in hand and the offense gave them a four-run cushion, Wilmington’s relief pitchers would not be able to maintain their 5-1 lead.
The first two pitchers Wilmington brought out of the bullpen, Carlos Romero and Jose A. Ferrer, were responsible for Hudson Valley’s late-game comeback. Romero was charged with the three runs in the top of the eighth that brought the Renegades within one and Ferrer gave up the game-tying home run to Jasson Dominguez with two outs in the ninth.
Wilmington was not able to make anything happen in the bottom of the ninth to break the tie, forcing the game into extra innings.
Richard Guasch was put on the mound in replacement of Ferrer for the tenth inning and struck out the side, giving the Blue Rocks another game-winning opportunity.
This time, Wilmington took advantage and once again used small ball to win the game as Jose Sánchez hit an RBI single to drive in Ricardo Méndez. The victory was key for the team, as it put them on the right track after returning from the long break.
“I mean, all the team we stay [with a] strong mentality. We don’t care about the All-Star break, we just continue to play, continue to play hard,” Méndez said. “That was really [important], to win the game the first game off the All-Star break. That’s why I say the team is ready for the second half.”
Wilmington looks to continue to keep the success rolling in game two against Hudson Valley on Saturday, July 23.
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