Blue Rocks rally back from a six-run deficit to take down the Renegades

Johnathon Thomas sprints down the first base line. Thomas recorded 3 RBI in the comeback win. - Wednesday, April 17, 2024 / Photo via Payton Tuorto

The Wilmington Blue Rocks (15-10) dropped the first two games of this series against the Hudson Valley Renegades (14-10). Two games later, they have tied it back up.

The most recent victory came in a high-scoring 13-8 win on Friday, May 3, marking the team’s tenth win at home, the most in the South Atlantic League.

The game started off rough for the Rocks. Starter Rodney Theophile let up six runs in the second inning of the game; it looked like they were out of the game early. They would respond in the next two innings.

“Still early in the game,” Manager Mario Lisson said. “We gotta keep competing. In the second inning, we got some life after scoring three runs. And then we went back to back scoring three runs the next inning. That got the pitching motivated to put up zeros.”

Those first three runs were all driven in by Blue Rocks center fielder Johnathon Thomas after he hit a triple into deep center field.

“I really just wanted to come through for the team,” Thomas said. “I figured it is the bases loaded, why not do something cool.”

Thomas has been improving steadily throughout the season; there have been flashes of his potential, and it seems like it is all finally coming together for the 24-year-old.

“He has been working a lot with Delwyn (Young),” Lisson said. “They have been in the cages trying to figure it out. Today we saw a little bit of the adjustment being made. He has to continue to put in the work so we can continue to see the progress.”

T.J. White would follow up Thomas’s bases-clearing triple in the second with a bases-clearing double in the third. After starting the game down 6-0, they were able to get to just one run behind Hudson Valley by a score of 7-6.

Thomas would once again be heard from again in the fourth inning with a bunt single toward the second baseman to lead off the inning. A Kevin Made and Trey Harris single would allow Thomas to score as the tying run.

“Anytime I can bunt to get on base it opens a lot of opportunities,” Thomas said. “I can steal a base and do anything the team needs to do.”

A Paul Witt sacrifice fly an at-bat later would give the Blue Rocks the lead, one that stayed with them for the remainder of the game.

Thomas almost put up even more heroics in the bottom of the sixth. Matt Suggs hit an automatic double, that was originally ruled as a inside-the-park grand slam to make it 11-7, and then a few batters later, Thomas stepped into the box with the bases loaded once again.

He came inches away from a home run. Not only would that home run extend the lead, but it would have also sent a fan home with 10,000 dollars.

“I saw it and I did not think it was gone,” Thomas said. “I thought I could get a double but then I saw it and it kept going foul. I said oh no come back, it was tough.”

The bullpen for the Blue Rocks shut the door on the Renegades after Theophile was taken out.

“The bullpen came in and picked him up,” Lisson said. “They have been this good night in and night out.”

If there is one area where the Rocks could use some work is on the defensive side of the ball; there were two errors in the game. One of them was made by Branden Boissiere early in the game on a ball that was behind the plate.

“It was a miscommunication,” Boissiere said. “Completely my fault. I did not realize [Suggs] was sitting under the ball. I was watching the ball the whole way. Never again.”

White also dropped a ball that would have ended a game and let up a run instead. Closer Todd Peterson was able to put the game away, but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.

Both White and Boissiere made up for their defensive miscues with their offense though. Boissiere, especially, in this series has been doing great, with a home run on Wednesday and going 3-4 tonight, scoring two runs, and walking once.

“Just certain drills me and my hitting coach have been working on,” Boissiere said. “It has been allowing me to stay connected and through the ball. It is finally starting to come together.”

The Blue Rocks sit in first place, and that is mainly due to the offense’s ability to battle no matter the score. The team never feels as if they are out of the game, which has been the story of the season thus far.

“We have a ton of confidence in each other,” Boissiere said. “We all put in the work every day and we all get in early. I have all the confidence in the world in these guys. It is a brotherhood, and we are all super tight. It is a brotherhood.”

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