Blue Rocks snap losing streak with doubleheader sweep over the IronBirds

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Phillip Glasser gets ready to swing. Glasser recorded the Blue Rocks' first run in both games. - Tuesday, May 14, 2024. / Photo via Payton Tuorto

The Wilmington Blue Rocks (17-17) came into Thursday’s doubleheader against the Aberdeen IronBirds (19-17) on a seven-game losing streak. The Blue Rocks won both games to break that streak and were aided by their pitching, which only gave up two runs all day in the 3-2 and 3-0 wins.

“Hopefully this game can help build our confidence, especially offensively,” Manager, Mario Lisson said. “The pitchers have done a good job of giving us a chance. They have done well all year. Today we had a shutout and a two-run game, which is pretty good and gives us a chance to win.”

In game one, it was Riley Cornelio on the mound for the Blue Rocks. Cornelio came into the day struggling in his last performance, only going three innings and giving up four runs against the Jersey Shore BlueClaws. Cornelio had a real feel for his offspeed pitches in this game.

“The slider was working really well today,” Cornelio said. “The week leading up to today I was trying to get a better feel for it. Same thing with the curveball; I felt like I was able to land it when I needed to, especially when putting batters away. The fastball and changeup came along during the outing as well.”

In his six innings on the mound, Cornelio only had one mistake, which was a two-run home run to Creed Willems. Other than that, Cornelio was dealing, with six strikeouts.

With the recent call-up of closer Todd Peterson, the Blue Rocks are looking for a new closer. One person who could fill that role is Marquis Grissom Jr., who got the save for Wilmington in game one.

“Our bullpen has been solid this season,” Lisson said. “Grissom has shown us he can close out games.”

In the third inning, Phillip Glasser got things going for Wilmington with a single. Daylen Lile then reached base on a single as well. Viandel Pena advanced both runners to second and third, which left it up to Kevin Made with two outs. Made came through with a single to make it a 2-0 ball game.

“Anytime you can be the catalyst for the team, it is great,” Glasser said. ”We have not been doing great on offense, so executing 1-9 today is what we want to do.”

Heading into the bottom of the fifth, Glasser got another base hit and eventually scored off Pena’s single up the middle for the final score in game one.

During the break between games, the team celebrated their first time back in the win column in a while.

“You gotta listen to music after a win,” Lile said.

In game two, Wander Arias got his first start of the season for the Rocks. Arias, who has nine appearances on the season for Wilmington, was dealing on the mound, pitching three innings of no-hit ball and recording five strikeouts.

“The personnel we got made him fit better against [Aberdeen],” Lisson said. “He did a good job throwing strikes, which is what we ask — challenge the other team. He has good stuff, and he pitched some solid innings.”

The organization and Lisson still view Arias as a reliever, and he will remain in the bullpen going forward.

Chance Huff came in for the next two innings, giving up the only hit of the game but keeping the game scoreless. Brendan Collins took the final two innings to get the save for the Blue Rocks.

The offense looked similar in this game compared to the first. Glasser once again got things going with a hit, this time a double. Glasser came into the doubleheader with a .189 batting average and finished with a .250 average.

Another difference this time is that Glasser was batting first, not eighth like he did in game one.

“We were trying to get him at the top of the order,” Lisson said. “We wanted to get him on base for the two and three [hitters]. Those guys have been swinging it more consistently. Everybody has been doing their jobs. He can do both jobs of being at the bottom of the lineup to set up the top of the order and be a guy who can lead off.”

The two and three hitters followed Glasser with a Lile walk, and then Made got a bunt single, but the catcher for the IronBirds, Adam Retzbach, made a throwing error to first, allowing Glasser to score. A Terone Harris III single and Will Frizzell allowed both Lile and Made to score, making it 3-0, which was ultimately the final score.

Wilmington hopes to ride the momentum of these wins for the rest of the series against Aberdeen, with three games left to play.

“We have been down because we know we are a lot better than how we have been playing,” Lile said. “It was good to get the two wins today; now we just gotta keep the momentum going.”

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