Wilmington Blue Rocks’ Bats Heat Up in the Sixth Inning Against Brooklyn Cyclones

Yasel Antuna swings at a pitch earlier this season. Antuna recorded a hit and an RBI in the Blue Rocks' win on Saturday night. Friday, July 26, 2022. - Staff Photographer / Ashley Craven

The Wilmington Blue Rocks (55-51) were able to heat up and mount a comeback victory on a cool Saturday night, defeating the Brooklyn Cyclones (53-54) 4-2 to take a 3-2 series lead in their six game series. 

Starting pitcher Lucas Knowles was the Blue Rocks’ key player of the game. Knowles pitched six innings, giving up six hits and two runs but was able to attack the strike zone throwing 62 pitches with 50 being strikes. 

“They want to swing hard early in the count,” Knowles said. “The game plan was to get ahead, stay ahead… we did that for the most part and my defense made a lot of plays.”

Knowles gave up a solo home run in the second inning to Brooklyn’s Jose Peroza and an RBI single to Alex Ramirez in the sixth inning, putting the Rocks down 2-0. 

“When you throw a lot of strikes guys are going to hit balls hard every once in a while,” Knowles said. “They hit a couple hard and we got hurt but the rest of the time it was fine.”

In the second half of the sixth, the Rocks were able to get things going, as a leadoff single by José Sánchez sparked a four run inning.

After Sánchez’s single, Robert Hassell III singled and both were able to advance on a passed ball. A wild pitch on ball four of Drew Millas’ at-bat would later score Sánchez making it 2-1, and a clutch RBI single from designated hitter Yasel Antuna would bring in Hassell and tie the game at two.

The Rocks would then take the lead after Antuna stole second with Millas on third, and Cyclones catcher Matt O’Neill’s throw to second found its way into center field, allowing Wilmington’s catcher to score. An RBI single from Drew Mendoza would score Antuna and give the Rocks a 4-2 lead.

“It feels great,” Antuna said. “Staying aggressive all the time is part of my game and helps my team to win.” 

The Rocks were struggling to get anything going offensively early in the game, but the performance from Knowles kept them in the game and gave them their chance in the sixth. 

“It feels good, and that’s a starting pitcher’s job,” Knowles said. “To keep your team in and give them a chance to win… it’s not my job to go out and win the game, it’s theirs. And my job is to hold it there and the bullpen’s job is to hold it there and they’ve done an awesome job all year… It’s really nice when you leave a one or two run lead and just know that those guys are going to get it done.” 

The Blue Rocks will be back in action for a Sunday matinee in the series finale against the Cyclones. First pitch will be at 1:05 p.m. as they look to carry their momentum from the past two games into a series win. 

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