Extra Innings and Benches Clearing: Blue Rocks fall to Cyclones in 5-4 thriller

James Wood walking back to the dugout removing his batting gloves. Tuesday, May 9, 2023. - Staff photographer / Joe Capuyan

The Wilmington Blue Rocks looked to carry over their offensive firepower from Sunday’s 16-4 victory against Hudson Valley into game one of their homestand against the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Instead, the Cyclones and Rocks went back and forth Tuesday in a close contest which included both benches and bullpens clearing in the seventh inning.

“I think we went to extra innings twice with them last time on the road,” designated hitter Jared McKenzie said. “We know its a battle with them.”

After Brooklyn jumped out to a one run lead in the top of the third inning, the Blue Rocks immediately responded in the bottom half. RBI Doubles from James Wood and Onix Vega secured a 2-1 Wilmington lead.

Blue Rocks starting pitcher Andrew Alvarez kept the advantage where it was through four innings, and was relieved by Nick Pogue in the top of the fifth.

Alvarez finished with one unearned run off five hits and four strikeouts. He brings his ERA down to 3.04.

Two doubles and a sacrifice fly from the Cyclones saw them storm back in the top of the fifth, getting to the new arm for 3 runs in just two-thirds of an inning. They carried a 4-2 lead until a Blue Rocks threat in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

A leadoff walk from Jeremy De La Rosa kicked off a quick scoring chance. After De La Rosa scored on an error off the bat of T.J. White. This gave way to runners on first and third base with nobody out, and the tying runner just ninety feet away.

Unfortunately, two strikeouts and a pop-up later they were unable to even things up, and headed into the seventh trailing 4-3.

“Hopefully seeing their arms the second time around, we can get things going a little bit sooner in the game and not get into that position,” McKenzie said.

Following back-to-back singles from Kevin Parada and Alex Ramirez, and a productive groundout from Stanley Consuegra, Brooklyn had two critical insurance runs in scoring position with just one out.

A wild delivery from Rocks pitcher Todd Peterson sailed over catcher Onix Vega’s helmet, yet luckily ricocheted off the backstop right back to homeplate, issuing an easy toss from Vega to the covering Peterson at home.

In a bang-bang sequence, Peterson slides to the exact spot baserunner Kevin Parada is at home plate while making an aggressive tag, creating an ugly collision between the two.

Parada, upon being called for the second out by the homeplate umpire, shoved pitcher Todd Peterson, instigating both benches and bullpens to clear. No further violence followed and no ejections where issued.

“It was my first one,” McKenzie said, refraining from commenting further on the quasi-brawl.

The brief intermission might have been exactly what the Blue Rocks needed to even things up, as they did so in the bottom half of seventh off of an RBI double from Jeremy De LA Rosa that drove in James Wood. Game tied 4-4.

Things stayed locked up through the scheduled nine innings, and Onix Vega made sure the score stayed tied once extra innings began. Once the ghost runner from second moved to third with one away, Vega’s strong throw to third back-picked William Lugo.

The Cyclones would not make the same mistake again the next inning, bunting to sacrifice the ghost runner to third, and then scoring him in off of a sacrifice fly from Kevin Kendall. They earned a 5-4 lead forcing the Blue Rocks to their last three outs.

Brooklyn reliever Trey McLoughlin shut the door with two strikeouts and a flyout to secure Brooklyn’s victory. McLoughlin earns his second win of the season, and the one run difference is the third time this matchup has resulted in such score.

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