Emiliani fuels Blue Rocks walk-off win over IronBirds

Leandro Emiliani gets showered following his walk-off hit. - Photo via @WilmBlueRocks on Twitter

The Wilmington Blue Rocks (30-36) hosted the Aberdeen IronBirds (33-33) on Saturday as part of their doubleheader, splitting the two seven-inning games.

In game one, the Blue Rocks struggled after allowing three runs in the first inning, orchestrated by Orioles top prospect Jackson Holliday, who singled home Max Wagner and later scored a run of his own. The IronBirds would carry the early momentum through game one, allowing only one run on a home run from Brady House.

Starting shortly after the 6-1 IronBirds victory in game one, the two squads were back at it for game two. Once again, Aberdeen would score in the first, and once again, Holliday played a crucial role with a triple and run scored, the first of four for the IronBirds in the first frame.

Kyle Luckham bounced back from the rocky start, dealing a scoreless 3.2 innings on the back end of his outing. The resilient performance gave the Blue Rocks a chance to claw back from the deficit.

“Every time I come out here, I try my best and give it my all,” Emiliani said postgame.

The comeback began in the bottom of the second when Emiliani dropped his bat on a low and inside fastball and put it deep over the wall in right field for his third home run of the season. 4-1 IronBirds after two.

The Rocks would continue their damage in the very next inning. Caleb Farmer led off with a single and would score on an RBI single by Jared McKenzie, narrowing the deficit. 4-2 IronBirds after three.

Emiliani would continue the comeback in the fourth, driving home Will Frizzell on a bloop double to left field, and moving Jose Sanchez to third. Sanchez would score later in the inning on a balk from Aberdeen reliever Graham Firoved. The Blue Rocks tied it up at four after four innings.

“I got the opportunity to come in and play and I tried to do my best. Thank God everything is working out the way I want it to,” Emiliani said.

With the game locked up, the Blue Rocks turned to bullpen arm Carlos Romero. In his two innings of work, Romero kept the IronBirds at bay allowing only one hit and striking out three.

As the game moved to extra innings (the eighth inning due to the doubleheader-shortened games), where Wilmington let Tyler Schoff get to work.

In one of the most dominant innings from a Blue Rocks pitcher this season, Schoff, with the extra-inning runner on second, struck out the first two batters he saw and got a pop-up to third base to give the offense a prime chance to win it in the bottom of the eighth.

With Emiliani up second in the inning, fans were prepared for some fireworks. Emiliani delivered with a deep fly ball to right field that fell in between the two outfielders, scoring Will Frizzell from second, and starting the walk-off celebration.

Just eight days after his walk-off homerun against the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, Emiliani played hero once again.

“The game is all about doing the smallest thing you can to win a ballgame,” Emiliani said. “And that’s what we did today.”

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