James Wood promoted to Harrisburg as Blue Rocks conclude series against Renegades

Will Frizzell high fives teammates on the way back to the dugout. Thursday, May 25, 2023. - Staff Photographer / Joe Capuyan

The Wilmington Blue Rocks and Hudson Valley Renegades concluded their six-game series on Sunday with an 8-4 Renegades victory.

The Blue Rocks offense felt tamer without the presence of James Wood. The Nationals top ranked prospect was promoted to AA-Harrisburg, the team announced Sunday morning. He played his first game for the Senators Sunday night in Reading and recorded a base hit in his first at-bat.

“He’s a special kid,” Blue Rocks manager Mario Lisson said of the twenty-year-old centerfielder. “He’s just got to continue to do what he does and he’ll be alright.”

In his 42 games with Wilmington, Wood batted .293 with an OPS of .972. and led the team with 36 RBIs and eight home runs. He is currently ranked as the seventh best prospect in the MLB, according to mlb.com.

The Blue Rocks would miss the production of Wood on Sunday, as their bats fell quiet after an electric first three innings.

The Renegades jumped out to an early lead for the second game in a row, scoring two runs from an Antonio Gomez RBI single in the top of the first inning. The Rocks would battle back in the bottom half, first off a swinging bunt infield single from Will Frizzell that drove in Nick Shumpert from third.

“Those don’t really come around too often for me so I’ll take them when I get them,” Frizzell said.

Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Leandro Emiliani found a hole up the middle on a hard groundball that plated Frizzell and Jared McKenzie to give the Blue Rocks a 3-2 lead moving into the second inning.

The Renegades would even things up hastily, a one-out single from Eduardo Torrealba, a walk from Marcos Cabrera, and a single from Alexander Vargas deadlocked the score at three.

Renegades pitcher Drew Thorpe kept Wilmington in check in the second, which gave way to an avalanche from their offense in the top of the third. What began as a leadoff double from Antonio Gomez ended in five runs for Hudson Valley including a two-run home run from Grant Richardson and a solo home run for Marcos Cabrera. An error from shortstop Jordy Barley allowed an unearned run to score, making it an 8-3 game.

The last run of the game would come in the form of a Trey Lipscomb home run in the bottom of the third inning, his third of the season. Lipscomb moved up in the lineup in the absence of Wood.

“You want the other guys to step up… we had a good night tonight,” Lisson said. “Those guys got to continue to grind at-bats and hopefully get it going.”

The silver lining performance for the Blue Rocks came from lefty Dustin Saenz out of the bullpen. Command, movement and variety were in effect as he mowed down the Renegades lineup from the moment he was put on the mound in the fourth inning. He went five innings allowing only one hit, one walk and striking out seven batters. Saenz threw a strike on 72% of his pitches.

“We have the fastball, changeup and slider, I feel confident throwing all three,” Saenz said. “I’m going into the game with the mentality of sticking to who I am as a player and as a pitcher, and going about my business every day.”

“Outstanding!” Lisson said of Saenz performance.

Saenz and the Blue Rocks will be back in business on Tuesday as they travel to North Carolina to play High-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, the Asheville Tourists. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. EST.

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