Blue Rocks stay unbeaten at home; walk off opposition for third time in four games at Frawley Stadium

The Blue Rocks swarm Viandel Pena after his walk-off hit against the Drive. - Tuesday, April 16, 2024 / Photo via Ryan Griffith

Bottom of the ninth, runners on first and second, Viandel Pena steps up to the plate for the Wilmington Blue Rocks with a chance to walk off the game.

“I was waiting for my pitch,” Pena said. “I knew that he was missing a lot, but I was just waiting for that right pitch and put in a good swing.”

He did exactly that. In a 2-0 count, Pena drove a ball into the outfield where the left fielder for the Greenville Drive, Caden Rose, attempted a diving catch but missed, which allowed both baserunners to score, winning the game for Wilmington by a score of 7-6. It was a special moment for Pena.

“It felt great,” Pena said. “It was the first time in my career I hit a walk-off.”

It was also the third time in four home games that the Rocks were able to walk off their opponent. Manager Mario Lisson believes that’s having an impact on the clubhouse and the way his team is playing.

“It’s a lot of positive energy,” Lisson said. “We started the way we wanted to build offensively. We did a good job coming back three times. It’s a good time right now since we know we can do that.”

The game began with both pitchers having a great first two innings, but the third was where Wilmington starter Rodney Theophile ran into some problems. Theophile walked two batters, but the real problem was the defensive play from the Blue Rocks. Both shortstop Kevin Made and third baseman Sammy Infante had throwing errors in the inning, allowing Greenville to take a 3-0 lead.

“That was a weird play,” Infante said. “The sun was behind me. The communication was to keep the ball down, the same thing happened with Kevin [Made] earlier.”

Both Made and Infante were able to get redemption within the next two innings, as Made poked a base hit that eventually allowed the Blue Rocks to plate their first run. Then Infante delivered a rocket to deep left field that tied the game 3-3 in the fourth. Infante identified a specific flaw in the Drive starter David Sandlin’s arsenal.

“I was in a hitter’s count,” Infante said. “I knew what was going to come because he could not throw the slider for a strike.”

Not only did Infante come through in that moment, but he also came through in the bottom of the ninth with a hit and eventually came around to score the game-winning run.

Theophile went on to pitch five scoreless innings and was pulled due to his innings limit of five, but because of the errors, he gave up no earned runs.

Another Blue Rock who had a good performance was designated hitter T.J. White. The 20-year-old had been struggling to come into the game but was able to record three RBIs and get on base twice.

“Just tried to see the ball a little bit deeper,” White said. “Last week I was catching a few balls out in front. I was working on that pregame.”

With the win, the Blue Rocks are now 7-3 on the young season and their seven runs were their most of the season to date. Despite the fast start, Lisson knows that the offense will only improve as the season progresses.

“We are doing the work early,” Lisson said. “The kids are putting in the work. We are still making adjustments, so the offense is just going to keep getting better.”

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