Wilmington Blue Rocks Secure Hard-Hitting Victory Over Jersey Shore BlueClaws

Ricardo Mendez about to make contact with the ball earlier this season. Mendez would play a role offensively in the Blue Rocks' victory on Thursday night. Friday, June 17, 2022. - Staff Photographer / Tyrese Williams

The Wilmington Blue Rocks approached the plate on Thursday, June 30, with revenge on the mind. Coming off of Wednesday’s 4-1 loss, the High-A affiliate for the Washington National kept swinging for a 7-3 victory over the Jersey Shore BlueClaws. 

The first two innings of the night remained scoreless, with Wilmington leaving four runners on base during that period. It wasn’t until the top of the third that outfielder Kevin Strohschein got the scoring started with his second home run of the season. 

Shortstop Jordy Barley kept the scoring going for Wilmington during the top of the third. After reaching first on a walk, Barley went on to steal second, steal third, and reach home on a throwing error by BlueClaws catcher, Herbert Iser. This would mark Barley’s 23rd stolen base of the season.

“I try to be ready when I go for a base,” Barley said, indicating that his aggression is key for base-stealing. “I try to be ready and get the jump.”

The top of the fifth saw the BlueClaws answer back to Wilmington’s early-game aggression, with their first run of the night coming in off of a single by Uziel Viloria that sent Freylin Minyety to third and home on a fielding error by center fielder Ricardo Mendez. With Viloria already on-base, right fielder Ethan Wilson hit his fifth home run of the season to set the score 3-2. 

However, this would be Jersey Shore’s only lead of the night as the Blue Rocks kept on hitting at the bottom of the sixth.

Antuna was the first to reach after being hit by a wild pitch from relief pitcher JP Woodward. Meregildo followed shortly after, also on a walk, and the bases would be loaded once Israel Pineda singled. Mendez would eventually start sending in runners after he ground into a force out to send Antuna home. Another single from Strohschein would send in Meregildo to give the Blue Rocks the lead once more, 4-3. 

“All of them [the players] have been working,” Manager Mario Lisson said. “Strohschein had a good game today…Meregildo, another breaking ball in the zone, Pineda hit the ball up the middle. All that stuff, that’s where we want it.”

The hard-hitting would continue for Wilmington in the bottom of the seventh when Jose Sanchez doubled to send in Darren Baker, Meregildo doubled on a line drive down center to send in Sanchez, and Mendez hit an RBI single to bring in Meregildo and end the inning 7-3.

“We wanna make sure we are ready to hit the fastball,” Lisson said. “I think we put good at-bats together. We were ready to hit the fastball and when we get those mistakes [from the BlueClaws] we take advantage of them.”

Jersey Shore would make one last attempt at a late-game comeback when Baron Radcliff doubled on a line drive down right field to send in center fielder Jared Carr and end the game 7-4.

Carlos Romero, the Blue Rocks’ first relief pitcher, was handed the win for his five strikeouts and 31 strikes thrown over 45 pitches. Woodward would take on the loss for the BlueClaws after being credited for a blown save, facing seven batters, and throwing 12 strikes over 22 pitches. 

With the series 2-1, the Blue Rocks will continue their series against the Jersey Shore BlueClaws on Friday, July 1, as they hope to continue with their lead. First pitch will commence at 6:35 p.m.

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