In their first homestand post the All-Star break, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (36-49) dropped their first two games against the Greensboro Grasshoppers (42-42) by a combined score of 24-3. With Andrew Alvarez on the mound on Thursday, fortune would change for the home team in game three.
Alvarez’s final line tells the tale of his dominance: six innings pitched, three hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.
“I faced them a couple weeks ago, studied some of that, and got what I needed,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez’s impressive season marks a silver lining in a struggle of a summer for the Blue Rocks. His record improves to 5-2 with the win, and his earned run average has dropped to 2.76 in 78.1 innings of work.
“We needed that,” manager Mario Lisson said. “He gave us some zeroes, gave us a chance to score runs, he was pretty good today.”
A solid outing from Alvarez would be paired with a sparkling offensive performance from Daylen Lile. Uncontained in four at-bats, Lile tallied three singles and a two-run triple in the third inning to put Wilmington up early. Splitting the right-centerfield gap, Lile charged around the bases out of the box, ending at third base with no contesting throw.
“That’s what he is, a dynamic player. He runs balls out, runs hard, has some speed and agility, bat to ball skills. You know he brings that energy to the lineup,” Lisson said.
The speed of Lile immediately proved beneficial, as he would score on a sacrifice fly from Viandel Pena to make it 3-0 Blue Rocks after three.
After Alvarez’s night concluded it was up to lefty Marlon Perez to hold Greensboro in check, and he did so in stride. After three strikeouts in two scoreless innings, he passed the baton to Holden Powell for the save in the ninth.
Powell, whose 2.93 ERA this season marks a career-high, found himself in a jam in the final frame. An error, walk, and single would load the bases for Ernny Ordonez with two outs. After falling behind in the count 3-1, Powell would surrender a bloop single that plated two runners, tightening the Blue Rocks lead to just one.
Thanks to Lile’s speed, the third run would be the difference, as Powell struck out Maikol Escotto looking to end the contest.
“I would say [my speed] brings a lot,” Lile said. “It’s like a scoreboard changer. I can change the game up at the plate, on the basepaths, and on defense.”
The outfielder would tally a stolen base to the box score, next to his first two RBIs with the Blue Rocks since getting called up on July 18th.
Lile and the Blue Rocks will look to carry the momentum from Thursday into the ladder half of the series. Game four is set for Friday at 6:35 p.m.
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