Viandel Pena Comes in Clutch for Wilmington Blue Rocks to Defeat Hudson Valley Renegades

Viandel Pena at bat. Pena hit the game-tying triple on Friday night. Wednesday, August 10, 2022. - Photo / Joey Nicolo, Wilmington Blue Rocks Photographer

The Wilmington Blue Rocks bounced back in a big way, in front of a packed house, on Friday, Sept. 9, with a 5-4 comeback victory against the Hudson Valley Renegades. 

After a clean first inning, Blue Rocks starter Michael Cuevas found himself in some trouble in the second.

A one-out double by Carlos Narvaez sparked a four-run second inning for the Renegades. Narvaez’s double was followed up with an RBI triple from Ben Cowles, an RBI double from Aldenis Sanchez, and a moonshot two-run homer from Jasson Dominguez to push their lead to 4-0. 

The Blue Rocks also got things going in the second inning. A leadoff single by Leandro Emiliani was followed by Onix Vega reaching first on a hit by pitch. Kevin Strohschein’s single loaded the bases up for the Rocks with only one out and they would capitalize.

Ricardo Méndez hit into RBI fielder’s choice to score Emiliani and an error by Renegades first baseman T.J. Rumfield allowed everyone to reach base safely. Cole Daily followed that up with an RBI sacrifice fly to score Vega and cut the deficit to two. 

“We want them to hit all the time,” Manager Mario Lisson said. “Baseball is unique, one day you go 0 for all game and then you have a good game the next one… we just want them to have good at-bats, stay on the fastball, be ready to hit the fastball, and give them their best chance.” 

The fourth inning would be the team’s best inning overall. After Cuevas had a clean 1-2-3 top half of the inning, the offense would complete the comeback in the bottom half. 

With two outs and two runners on base, second baseman Viandel Pena came through with a clutch two-run triple that scored Strohschein and Méndez to tie the game at four. A wild pitch would bring in Pena and give the Blue Rocks the lead for good. 

“It feels really good,” Pena said. “I had been missing pitches that I don’t miss… I missed one in the second and I said ‘I missed it one time, I can’t miss it again.’”

The Blue Rocks ran into some trouble again in the sixth after some poor defensive plays put runners on the corners for the Renegades with only one out. They were able to get out of trouble with Vega catching the lead runner in a rundown and relief pitcher Jack Sinclair striking out Sanchez to send the Wilmington fans into a frenzy.

“The guys on the mound were doing a great job,” Lisson said. “They actually stepped up after the defense didn’t make those plays, they were able to make those big pitches.”

Lisson also acknowledged the fans’ support and reminisced on his playing days.

“I wish we had these crowds every day,” Lisson said. “I remember when I played here in 2007, this was a Tuesday night… Hopefully next year we can get the fans back in the stadium and have crowds like this on a normal basis.”

With the win last night, the Blue Rocks were able to knock Hudson Valley out of playoff contention. The two teams still have two more games to play though and will be back at it Saturday night at 6:35 p.m.

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