In the first game of their last series, it was a familiar hero that came in clutch for the Wilmington Blue Rocks against the Hudson Valley Renegades.
Onix Vega’s three-run home run in the fifth inning broke the game open and pushed the Blue Rocks over the edge to defeat the Renegades 5-3 on Tuesday, September 6.
“I mean it was great you know, coming from two strikeouts, he [Hudson Valley’s starting pitcher Blas Castano] was making good pitches and I got one where he missed and I got it and I hit it,” Vega said. “Got the guys back on top.”
Prior to Vega’s heroics, Wilmington was using the speed of Cody Wilson to bring in their first two runs of the night.
Wilson, Wilmington’s leadoff man, was the first Blue Rock to get on base after being hit by a pitch and quickly stole second during the next at-bat. This was the first of four stolen bases for the Blue Rocks’ speedy outfielder.
“I mean that’s my whole game,” Wilson said. “When I get on base, I try to steal bases and try to get in scoring position for the guy behind me.”
That’s exactly what he did as an RBI single from Leandro Emiliani brought him in the first time to take the 1-0 lead, though there was a chance for Wilson to touch home earlier in the inning.
During Vega’s first at-bat, Wilson took off for third and after the Renegades’ catcher, Anthony Seigler, threw the ball into left field and continued to run all the way home. That play would be overturned due to umpire interference.
Fortunately for the Blue Rocks, that situation happened exactly the same way at the bottom of the third. This time there wasn’t any interference, scoring Wilmington’s second run of the night.
While the Blue Rocks tallied a few runs on offense, it was starting pitcher Lucas Knowles on the mound looking to avoid allowing the Renegades to do the same. After a clean one-two-three first inning, Knowles did run into a bit of trouble during his second frame of work, giving up a home run to T.J. Rumfield to start it off.
“I hit a little speed bump in the second inning, that homer kind of surprised me,” Knowles said. “It took me a second to settle back in but then after that, it was pretty much business as usual the rest of the game besides that four, five-hitter span.”
Knowles left that inning giving up three runs and putting Hudson Valley in the lead. That’s all he would give them though as he finished his five innings of work with only three runs and eight strikeouts, a season-high for the lefty.
Despite the fact Knowles put in solid work, he still left the bump in the fifth inning with the Blue Rocks down 3-2. That’s when Vega hit his three-run shot, putting Wilmington up by two and securing the win.
“It was awesome, it was great. And their pitcher was talking a little bit, so it was very nice for us… for Vega to get ahold of it and take the game into his own hands,” Knowles said. “He did a great job behind the dish and at the plate, he’s really turned himself into a leader on the team and I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
As the season is coming to an end, players like Vega are important for this Blue Rocks team who despite being out of playoff contention, want to finish the year on a high note.
“It’s important you know, at the end of the season guys are trying to [be like] ‘oh, the season’s done.’ I’m trying to keep them motivated to finish strong,” Vega said. “Play hard every time, like it’s your last game every time.”
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