Blue Rocks kick off 2024 with a win over the Cyclones

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Daylen Lile gets ready to swing. Lile went 2-5 with a RBI and run scored in the season opener. - Friday, April 5, 2024. - Photo via Payton Tuorto

208 days and one long offseason later, the Wilmington Blue Rocks returned to action on a cold and windy Friday, April 5, and opened up the 2024 campaign on the right foot, taking down the Brooklyn Cyclones by a score of 4-1 in front of 3,002 fans in the season opener. 

“It was awesome [to be back],” manager Mario Lisson said. “We were glad to be back. The support today was amazing by the fans showing out in this weather. The kids played good, that’s all you can ask for.”

While it may have been cold outside, the Rocks’ bats were hot to start the game against right-hander Noah Hall, who was making his professional debut after being selected by the Mets in the seventh round of the 2023 MLB Draft. 

Daylen Lile, the Nationals No. 7 overall prospect, got the first hit of the season with a leadoff single, and later came around to score after Murphy Stehly hit a sacrifice fly to center. In the next inning, Lile smoked an RBI triple down the right-field line to score Jared McKenzie.

“We’re just loose and relaxed,” Lile said. “The vibes are good, we just got to keep doing our thing, taking it day-by-day and we’ll be good.”

Lile finished the day 2-5 with a run scored and RBI. Despite opening last season as the Nats’ 16th overall prospect and now jumping into the top ten, he doesn’t put any extra expectations on himself.

“I want to do everything on the field, whether it’s defensively, on the base paths, or hitting, just trying to help my team contribute as much as possible,” Lile said.

His manager, however, is happy to have his outfielder back for another year after getting a glimpse of him last season, where he posted a .234 batting average and .667 OPS in 40 games with Wilmington. 

“He’s a very talented kid, we’re very happy to have him,” Lisson said. “He works very hard every day and it’s showing on the field.”

Another guy who Lisson is happy to have back is starting pitcher Andry Lara, who got the opening day nod from his manager. After going 6-8 with a 4.58 ERA in 23 games last season, Lara opened up 2024 firing, with five strong innings of one-run ball while tying a High-A career-high in strikeouts with six, and was able to work himself out of a jam multiple times. 

“He was attacking the zone with everything,” Lisson said. “Fastball was playing well, good offspeed too, so he did a good job. That’s what we expect out of him.”

Lara and new catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. seemed to be on the same page all night, as were the three other relievers who followed, as the pitching staff combined to strike out 10 while giving up just six hits. 

“We’ve worked our butt off since Spring Training to really get that relationship going,” Romero said. “It’s all about knowing what works for them and what they’re feeling that day. I’m just glad that they trusted me and glad God gave me the opportunity to be here.”

While he called a steller game behind the plate, Romero’s impact was felt offensively, as he capped off the Rocks’ scoring in the fourth with a two-run shot over the right field wall in his first game on the team.

“It felt great, glad God gave me the opportunity to be here and it felt nice,” Romero said. “It felt nice to get that off the shoulders.”

The Blue Rocks will look to build off this dominant win and secure the series win in the second game of this three-game set on Saturday, April 6 at 6:05 p.m. 

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