It was a high-scoring matinee in Delaware on Sunday, July 24, as the Wilmington Blue Rocks won the final of three games against the Hudson Valley Renegades 16-9 to take the series.
While it was a rough day on the mound for both teams, the Blue Rocks’ bats went to work after being unable to get anything going the night before in their 3-0 loss to Hudson Valley.
“Every game is unique,” Blue Rocks’ Manager Mario Lisson said. “[Saturday], they did a good job, their starter was pretty good. Today, we were able to get ourselves on base, get good pitches to hit, and then when we got them, we didn’t miss them.”
Despite picking up the win, the matchup did not start the way Wilmington would have liked it to.
The starting pitcher for the Blue Rocks was Michael Cuevas, who has struggled this season, entering the game with a 4-9 record. His struggles continued as he gave up three runs in the top of the first, including a home run to lead off batter Trey Sweeney.
The Blue Rocks had the chance to make up some ground in the bottom of the inning when Hudson Valley’s starter Matt Sauer walked the first four batters, which drove in Wilmington’s first run of the afternoon.
The Blue Rocks wouldn’t really start their comeback until the bottom of the third after the Renegades added two more runs to Cuevas’ stat line and extended their lead to 5-1. Drew Millas, who was moved back to Wilmington earlier this week, started off the inning with a solo home run.
“I was trying to get a fastball to go into left center,” Millas said. “I got a changeup, got my head out on it and hit it into right-center, and that’s pretty much it.”
During the next at-bat, Kevin Strohschein hit a single to get on base, allowing another new addition to the lineup, Leandro Emiliani, to hit a two-run homer that went 461 feet and brought the game within one.
“We want them to get going,” Lisson said, referring to Millas and Emiliani. “That’s what they’re capable of doing, so hopefully they can continue.”
By the end of the inning, the Blue Rocks would take advantage of the Renegades’ pitching struggles and drive in two more runs to take their first lead of the day 6-5.
“They were throwing a lot of breaking balls, out of the zone,” Blue Rocks’ catcher Onix Vega said. “So we were just trying to look for fastballs in the zone and then every time they threw it, we hit”
The Renegades would tie the game up at six apiece in the top of the fourth, but their pitchers just weren’t able to keep the Blue Rocks off the bases. After taking Sauer out of the game, Hudson Valley’s first two relievers allowed Wilmington to string together six more runs in the fourth and fifth innings and blow open the game 12-6.
“[There were] a lot of breaking balls,” Millas said. “I mean, this is my second time playing them, so I’ve seen a lot of breaking balls this week, more than I have all year. So it was good to get the opportunity to see that and make an adjustment as the weekend went on. Today was a lot of spin.”
While both teams continued to have success at the plate, the Blue Rocks were able to outhit the Renegades and pick up the win. Wilmington ended their day with 14 hits, four of those being home runs, which is a lot for a team who has only hit 57 home runs over 87 games.
“A home run is the best thing for the team, you know,” Vega said. “Everybody likes home runs, so we started with those and we kept going.”
Overall, the conclusion of this series is what this team wanted in their first one back from the All-Star break.
“It’s great when you see this type of ending,” Lisson said. “You know, [Saturday] was a tough game, we could have come in today and just be down. But today, in the first inning we got one run and then we answered and had a really good third inning. So it’s great when we can do that.”
The Blue Rocks will remain in Wilmington as another division rival, the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, come to town for a seven-game series. Their first game is set for Tuesday, July 26, at 6:35 p.m.
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