Blue Rocks return home victorious in 7-3 win over IronBirds

Second basemen Viandel Pena's custom Rawlings Heart of the Hide, Sunday April 16th, 2023. - Staff Photographer / Tyrese Williams

The Wilmington Blue Rocks returned home from a five-game road trip on Tuesday, April 25, and treated their fans to a 7-3 win over the Aberdeen IronBirds.

Following their 3-2 road trip, a big factor in the Rocks’ success on Tuesday night was Chance Huff’s excellent outing. After failing to make it further than 2 2/3 innings in his first two starts, Huff went five strong innings against Aberdeen, allowing four hits, one earned run, and striking out five.

“Made a couple adjustments,” Huff said. “Seven days of rest gives you an opportunity to correct what you need to. Made some good improvements throughout the week, and saw success tonight.”

Huff’s role within the Rocks’ pitching staff this season has been an adjustment. Last year, Huff started just one game in seven appearances at the Rookie and Single-A level, and so far in 2023, he’s made three consecutive starts.

After two shaky starts to kick off the season, Huff believes Tuesday was a major step toward getting where he needs to be.

“Tonight was a step in the right direction,” Huff said. “Beginning of the season, it was early. In my first outing I thought I just had some bad luck, and then my last start just wasn’t the one I was looking for, finding the strike zone. Tonight I put it together.”

Wilmington’s offense gave Huff all the early run support he needed, plating three runs in the first innings thanks to T.J. White’s first home run at the High-A level. 

“Attacking from pitch one, having that killer mindset,” White said. “The past week, we were just kinda laid back and punched second instead of punching first. Today, we punched first.”

The offensive outburst made things much easier for Huff on the mound, as well.

“You gotta love it,” Huff said. “Especially a quick lead like that, a two-run bomb. It was nice, it was good.”

Similar to Huff, the 2023 season has been filled with adjustments for T.J. White up to this point. This is his first year playing at the High-A level, and the 19-year-old feels as though his long ball on Tuesday was a step in the right direction.

“I’m settling in pretty good,” White said. “It takes some time to adjust to the different pitchers; these guys are better than what you see at the previous level. I knew it’d take some time to adjust, but I believe in myself, so I know that I can do it.”

Outfielder Jacob Young’s speed on the base paths also set up Wilmington for success on Tuesday. Young stole three bases, upping his total to seven on the season, which kept Aberdeen’s pitchers on their toes all night long.

“Just trying to be more aggressive,” Young said. “I haven’t had too many opportunities to steal this year, so just trying to be aggressive, push the envelope, and try to get something going.”

Young also described how he believes his speed helps out the rest of the hitters behind him.

“It’s something that I know I can do, so I’m trying to get some guys behind me in scoring position, and hopefully they can drive me in,” Young said. “Just trying to set up the big batters in our lineup.”

Following the Blue Rocks’ last homestand, Manager Mario Lisson noted that his offense needs to do a better job of attacking fastballs. White believes the lineup did an exceptional job of that on Tuesday.

“The hitting machine, Micha [Franklin] has had us on that machine every day,” White said. “I think that’s helped us big time.”

The Blue Rocks will look to win their second straight game on Wednesday, April 26 in game two against Aberdeen.

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.