Blue Rocks bats prop them over Renegades 8-4

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Israel Pindea is celebrated by the dugout following his two-run home run. Tuesday, August 1, 2023. - Staff Photographer / Joe Capuyan

The Wilmington Blue Rocks came out swinging as they defeated the Hudson Valley Renegades 8-4 on Tuesday night to kick off a six-game series.

Things started off rough for the Rocks. Ace Andrew Alvarez surrendered a first-inning run, essentially all on his own when he threw back-to-back wild pitches to allow a run to score.

In the second, Alvarez would have no problems but in the third, a third wild pitch would come back to haunt him when an RBI single by Augustin Ramirez brought home the second run of the game and put the Rocks in a two-run deficit. 

After that, Alvarez would settle in and dominate. Alvarez would only allow one more hit and two more baserunners total for the rest of his outing, going 6.0 innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits while walking three and striking out five.

“That [pitching performance] helps us a lot,” Daylen Lile said. “We don’t have to do a lot at the plate, we just have to do what we do and put the ball in play.”

In the fifth inning, Wilmington would finally get going. After being held silent for most of the night by Renegades starter Brendan Beck, the Rocks would attack the bullpen. A pitching change would be all they needed as reliever Joel Valdez allowed the first six batters to reach base on only two hits.

A hit-by-pitch for Jared McKenzie started the rally and three more walks would keep the line moving. With the score 2-1 and the bases jammed with nobody out, Lile ripped a single up the middle which brought home one and an error in center field allowed a second run to score and give the Rocks a 3-2 lead. Another run would score on an Israel Pineda RBI single and the Rocks were in business.

“We took advantage of free bases,” manager Mario Lisson said. “Start the inning with a hit by pitch, then walk, walk, base hit, walk…took advantage of the free bases and kept getting at-bats so that was a good job by the offense.” 

In the sixth, the Renegades kept Valdez out there and the struggles continued. Down 0-2 in the count, Jeremy De La Rosa cranked a no-doubt solo home run to right field to give the Rocks some insurance.

“That felt great man,” De La Rosa said. “I was thinking the inning before ‘I gotta hit off this guy, I gotta beat this guy’ and that’s what happened.”

They weren’t done there though. In the seventh, they would add three more to put the game on ice including a mammoth two-run home run to center field by Pineda and an RBI single for Branden Boissiere to make it an 8-2 ball game.

The Rocks sent Chance Huff in to close out the game. After a quiet eighth inning, the Renegades found some life in the ninth. Huff surrendered a lead-off walk to Alexander Vargas to start the inning and the Renegades began to rally.

A one-out single for Aldenis Sanchez allowed Vargas to go to third and a bad throw from the outfield allowed Sanchez to advance to second.

With runners on and only one away, Eduardo Torrealba singled on a fly ball to center field which scored Vargas to make it an 8-3 game. The Renegades would bring in one more on a groundout by Spencer Jones until Todd Peterson would be brought in to close it out.

The two teams will be back at it tonight in Wilmington for game two of their six-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. 

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