Blue Rocks split doubleheader against Renegades on the heels of a one-hitter

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Matt Suggs gets ready to bat. Suggs went 1-3 with an RBI in the second game of the doubleheader. - Thursday, June 6, 2024. / Photo via Payton Tuorto

After the third rainout in eight meetings between the two teams occurred last night, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (25-28) and Hudson Valley Renegades (27-25) finally had a chance to make up some of these lost games on Thursday, June 6 with a doubleheader, the first of two scheduled for this rare eight-game series.

The two teams would split the day, with Hudson Valley taking the first game by a score of 8-3 and Wilmington winning the second 4-0. 

Tonight’s second game was originally scheduled for May 4, however, rain forced the game to be postponed until June 5, turning last night into a scheduled doubleheader, but Mother Nature once again showed no mercy and forced the game to be postponed until tonight.

Hudson Valley’s bats came into the day hot, scoring 14 runs across the first 15 innings of this series, and continued that trend in Game 1 against Rodney Theophile. He threw 71 pitches in just three innings, giving up six hits and seven runs (six earned) while striking out five. 

Theophile ran into his first bit of trouble in the second inning, which saw eight Renegades come to the plate and took 31 pitches to get out of. 

Rafael Flores and Omar Martinez both got on base to open the frame and both came around to score after RBI singles from Josh Moylan and Cole Gabrielson. Then, with Moylan and Gabrielson on, Kyle Battle hit a bases-clearing triple past the outstretched glove of Jeremy De La Rosa in right field to put the Renegades up 4-0, which ultimately proved to be enough.

An inning later, Hudson Valley sent seven men to the plate which resulted in three more runs, two of which came off the bat of Flores’ after he launched a ball over the wall in center field. Theophile’s rough outing caused the team to turn to the bullpen earlier than they may have hoped. 

“The fact of the matter is that we have a plan scheduled out for the game, it just moves people up,” Blue Rocks development coach Mark Harris said. “Guys maybe have to do a little more than we thought – get in a little earlier, pitch a little longer, maybe a few more pitches. But we had plenty in the bullpen to do what we needed to do.”

The trio of Marlon Perez, Jaren Zinn, and Dannel Diaz combined to only allow one run in their four innings of relief, but the Blue Rocks’ offense failed to rally back, tallying just six hits in the first game. 

Wilmington’s offense flipped the script in the second game though, as Phillip Glasser opened the bottom of the first with a leadoff single and second and third, which proved to be huge after he scored on a wild pitch. 

“When we are aggressive from the start, good things happen, like the second game,” Viandel Pena said. 

This aggression on the bases was something that was seen all throughout the second game, as the Rocks went 5-6 on stolen base attempts which helped manufacture three of their four runs.

“It was based on their pitchers’ time to the plate,” Harris said. “Most of them were a little slower than normal, so you kind of add what you’re doing and the catcher’s normal throwing times and it’s pretty much known before they get on base that we’re going to try and run a bit more.”

The Rocks totaled 13 base runners in their six innings at the plate, leading to plenty of opportunities to run on the bases.

“We got some better pitches to hit the second game, a little more patient at the plate,” Harris said. “Their pitchers pitched a little backwards meaning they don’t pitch off the fastball, more secondary pitches first then fastball, so you got to be a little more patient and not miss a pitch to hit when you get it.”

Getting the start for Wilmington was Zach Brzykcy, who is down with the team on a rehab assignment after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2023. It took him just eight pitches to retire the side in order in his one and only inning.

“It was fun [to catch him],” Matt Suggs said. “I caught him a bunch in Spring Training so it was definitely nice to get out there under the lights and catch him for sure.”

Manager Mario Lisson turned to Wander Arias to pitch the next three innings, and he repaid his manager in a big way. Arias allowed just one hit, which was a leadoff double in the second and the Renegades’ only hit of the day, walked two and struck out four. 

“His splitter was working really well, just a guy filling up the zone,” Suggs said. “Couldn’t ask for much more from him, just getting outs and doing what he needed to get done.”

Even though two more pitchers followed Arias, that was the last pitching change that Lisson would make. During the bottom half of the second and Elijah Nunez up, Lisson was thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Christian Argueza for arguing about a balk call, so Harris shifted from the first base coach’s box to the third base side, while infielder Gavin Dugas took Harris’ spot at first.

“He [Dugas] played the first game so he was hanging out the second game, so he got a helmet and went out there,” Suggs said with a laugh. 

The two teams will meet again tomorrow, Friday, June 7, for the fifth game of this series. Hudson Valley currently leads 3-1. 

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