Blue Rocks top Crawdads 5-4 in thrilling back-and-forth battle

Infielder Jordy Barley scans the field from the dugout. Wednesday, April 12, 2023. - Photo / Joe Capuyan

Washington Nationals’ top prospects James Wood and Jeremy De La Rosa saw some unanticipated help on Thursday, April 13, in the Wilmington Blue Rocks’ tug-of-war 5-4 victory over the Hickory Crawdads.

Wood hit his first home run of the season in his first at-bat, pushing an early Blue Rocks 2-0 lead. He has started the season 8 for 21 with an OPS of 1.000.

“I went up there looking for a fastball,” Wood said. “[The pitcher] gave me a changeup over the plate and I was able to adjust and do something with it.”

The offensive execution was contagious, as De La Rosa tallied three hits on the day, making it back-to-back multi-hit games for the centerfielder. His batting average sits at .318, second highest among the team’s starters behind Wood. 

“I just needed to relax my mind,” De La Rosa said. “Trying to be simple in every swing and everything I do.” 

His consistency at the plate came when the Blue Rocks needed it most. After a clean first two innings from pitcher Andry Lara, the Crawdads struck with a Max Acosta three-run home run that gave Hickory the lead. 

The Rocks evened it up in the bottom of the third after two batters reached base from getting hit by a pitch, and a single from De La Rosa moved the tying run to third. Wood drilled in his third RBI on a sacrifice fly just two pitches later. 

“We’re just keeping it consistent,” Wood said . “Going up [to bat] with a plan and just trying to execute.”

Lara finished after pitching five full innings with four strikeouts and four earned runs. He earned his second no decision on the season. Dannel Diaz threw a dominant two innings in relief, striking out six and holding the Crawdads to just one hit.

The same can be said for the victorious Blue Rocks pitcher Tyler Schoff. He threw his own pair of innings, striking out three and also allowing just one hit.

With the game tied at four in the bottom of the eighth, momentum had swung back to the Wilmington bench. Stepping in to bat as a pinch hitter was Jacob Young, who promptly drove in the go ahead run from scoring position on a line drive single to centerfield.

“It was big,” Wood said of the go-ahead base hit. “We really have a deep lineup so it comes as no surprise to me.”

The Blue Rocks tallied 10 hits for just the second time this season, following Wednesday’s 13 hit marathon. Derek Hill added two hits and two runs scored to the total on Thursday.

After dropping two of three games in their first series of the season at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen, the Blue Rocks are now up 2-1 on the Crawdads in the six game series in Wilmington.

“It helps because you feel like you’re at home, and it’s a great feeling,” De La Rosa said.

The Rocks and Crawdads continue the action on Friday, April 14, as Wilmington has its sights on their first series win of the year.

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