Blue Rocks use a big fourth inning to take down Drive

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Daylen Lile takes his lead off of first base. Lile stole a base against the Drive on Thursday. - Wednesday, April 17, 2024. - Photo via Payton Tuorto

The Wilmington Blue Rocks bounced back after a tough loss to the Greensville Drive to win 6-4 in a thrilling game at Frawley Stadium on Thursday, April 18.

Bryan Caceres got his second start of the season on the mound and found himself in trouble early. Caceres had trouble locating his pitches, surrendering three walks and a wild pitch which allowed two runs to score in the opening frame of play.

Despite the rough start, Caceres was able to lock in and pitch three scoreless innings after the first.

“Mark [DeFelice] and he talked a little bit after that first inning,” manager Mario Lisson said. “He told me to make a couple of adjustments to his delivery which he was able to do. He was able to get us to the fifth inning. It was a good bounce back after the way the first went.”

Caceres did give up two more runs at the top of the fifth, ending his day on the bump.

Things would be getting rough early for the Rocks in the second inning; the team had runners in scoring position but were unable to capitalize, something that plagued them the previous night.

Luckily for Wilmington, they were able to finally capitalize with some good old-fashioned small ball in the third. Daylen Lile was able to lead off the inning with a base hit into center field. He was able to use his speed to his advantage stealing second base.

“Even if I am not doing anything in the outfield or at the plate, I just want to show my speed off and help my teammate by swiping bags,” Lile said.

Kevin Made was then able to bunt Lile over to third on a sacrifice bunt, which led to a Branden Boissiere sacrifice fly allowing Lile to show off his speed again by beating the throw to the plate from the Drive’s centerfielder, making the score 2-1.

The Blue Rocks were able to take that momentum and ride it over the fourth where the team would score four runs and bat around the order. The man who started it all off was Jared McKenzie with a double.

This was McKenzie’s first game of the homestand and he hit the ground running. McKenzie, who has two walk-offs and has a whopping 1.049 OPS to start the season, was happy to be back out on the field.

“I am just trying to pick up where I left off,” McKenzie said. “I was able to catch one tonight, the ball is gonna fly, just trying to hit it hard and hit it on a line.”

McKenzie would finish the game with three hits and a walk, but perhaps the most impressive part of the game for McKenzie was the number of pitches he saw. He had two at-bats in the same inning where he saw a combined 17 pitches.

“I saw a lot of pitches which is good for this being my first time back in the lineup in a week or so,” McKenzie said. “Missed a few I should have hit, but at the end of the day, it gives an opportunity for others in the lineup to get someone that they can hopefully get hits off of.”

McKenzie is not the only player on the Rocks who was patient. With the recent promotion of catcher Matt Suggs to the Harrisburg Senators, Ivan Murzi got his first start at the backstop and was able to get two walks, one of them to score the sixth and final Wilmington run.

After Lisson took out Caceres, his bullpen was able to shut the door. Combining five innings, five strikeouts, and five hits, the trio of Chance Huff, Marquis Grissom, and Todd Peterson were able to successfully close the door for the Drive.

“They have been phenomenal,” Lisson said. “We have a lot of good arms, we hope they continue to pitch the way they are pitching. The preparation and communication they have had in between them and DeFelice has just been amazing.”

The Drive’s bullpen did not have that many people that could pitch in the game, only having one actual reliever that the team used in Jonathan Brand. After Brand was taken out, the Drive put in a catcher as a pitcher who was able to get five outs while allowing no runs.

“We just treated it like BP,” Lile said. “We know he is not gonna be able to blow it past us. It is tough going from 96 to 60 though.”

With three games left in the series, it will be interesting to see how the Drive utilize their bullpen for the rest of the way.

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