It was a long night in Wilmington on Thursday, August 11, as the Blue Rocks battled the Brooklyn Cyclones through 12 innings only to come up short 7-6.
During most of the first half of standard play, the Blue Rocks were the ones the Cyclones were chasing, putting the first three runs on the board in the bottom of the second.
Brooklyn tried to answer back with two runs of their own in the next half inning, but Wilmington didn’t give in that easily and added a fourth run to expand their lead to 4-2 by the end of the third.
Much of the Blue Rocks’ early success in the game came off the bat of Onix Vega, who drove in three of their first four runs off his first triple of the season and an RBI single.
“It feels good to get the guys going,” Vega said. “Lately, we haven’t been hitting and I’m trying to do my best to help the team win.”
While Wilmington got off to a hot start, after the third inning, their offense fell stagnant once again. This allowed the Cyclones to chip away at the Blue Rocks’ lead during the next two frames, as they scored three runs and took control of the game 5-4.
This was where the score stood all the way up until the bottom of the ninth when Jose Sánchez took the opportunity to come up clutch with two outs, hitting an RBI double to tie the game and give the Wilmington fans some free baseball.
After both teams went scoreless in the tenth, the Cyclones drove in their 11th inning ghost runner, Joe Suozzi, off a ground out. The Blue Rocks then returned the favor and brought home their ghost runner, Cole Daily, off a sac-fly.
With the score evened back up at 6-6, Wilmington brought in relief pitcher Jack Sinclair to keep the game tied, which would give the Blue Rocks the chance to win with just a single. Once again, the ghost runner came in handy from Brooklyn as another ground out drove in the Cyclones’ seventh run of the day.
Wilmington was unable to answer back for the third time and fell to the Cyclones 7-6. While Sinclair was handed the loss, Blue Rocks’ Manager Mario Lisson felt his closer and his bullpen as a whole was still very solid.
“They’ve been good all year, attacking the strike zone and their secondary stuff is good,” Lisson said. “You know, it’s tough when you got a runner on second base all the time in extra innings, but overall they’ve been doing a good job.”
An area that really hurt the Blue Rocks in this close matchup was their errors, as they recorded three compared to the Cyclones’ zero. The biggest one came in the third inning when Yasel Antuna dropped a fly ball in left field that allowed a run to score, and in a game that goes into extra innings, that is a detriment.
“I think the only costly one was the dropped fly ball by Antuna,” Lisson said. “You know, we have to take care of the baseball overall, we continue to work on that, the physical errors are a part of the game, so we have to keep working.”
Brooklyn now holds the 2-1 series lead going into the final three games. If the Blue Rocks want to win the series, they have to become more consistent at the plate, clean up the errors and pick up any more of these close matchups as another loss will make a series victory impossible.
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