On Easter Sunday, the Wilmington Blue Rocks gave their fans an Easter treat by a extra inning win and three straight road wins in a row.
The Rocks beat the Potomac Nationals 5-4 at Pfitzner Stadium in 11 innings and the steady Wilmington pitching led the way for the win.
Rocks starter Cristian Castillo in the first three innings was on track to have a good outing by only giving up one run which was in the first inning. Then the next two innings came and things started to get rocky for Castillo by giving up 3 combined runs in the 4 and the 5th.
Castillo’s day was pitched 5 innings, 8 hits, 4 runs, 3 ER, 2 BBs and 3 Ks on the day.
Castillo’s day was over after five and then the bullpen came in and did the job for Rocks and kept the Nationals hitters guessing.
The Rocks bullpen of Jacob Bodner,Jared Ruxer and Andres Machado went a combined 5.3 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 ER, 4 BBs and 7 Ks in the win. Jared Ruxer earned the win while Andres Machado earned his second save of the season.
Blue Rocks Manager Jamie Quirk had nothing but positive things to say about his bullpen.
“They keep battling. To me, the key is that has been kind of forgotten here, is what kills you is when you’re trying to catch up and our bullpen gives up that one extra run you never quite get there. However, our bullpen has been phenomenal. They keep throwing zeroes, our offense has a chance to catchup. They threw six zeroes in today’s game and that was the kind of thing last year where we gave up the one extra run and we couldn’t catch up. This year, the bullpen isn’t doing that and it’s giving the offense a chance to catch up.”
“I learned a lot about (Jacob) Bodner (in jam in the eighth inning) and being a veteran in the league and I wanted to stay with him right there. He got a big strikeout and allowed us to walk Mejia to get to the right hander. If he walks Augustin, he has to pitch to Mejia and he’s tough. He’s a bad ball hitter, you can try to get him swing a balls and we had bases loaded so it makes it tough. He got the strikeout and we got the match up we wanted.”
As good as the bullpen was the Rocks need to some scoring to get a third straight win and the Rocks offense provided just enough fire power to pull it out.
It all started with Wilmington’s Center Fielder Anderson Miller who hit a home run in the second inning to put the Rocks on the board and tie the game at 1.
Then in the 7th inning, things got interesting for the Rocks who were down 4-1 at the time. Third Baseman Wander Franco starting the scoring in the 7th with a single to center field that scored Catcher Chase Vallot. Then, Shortstop Nicky Lopez came up to the plate and hit a single into the right field that scored Right Fielder Roman Collins and Franco. That big inning for the Rocks help tie the game up at 4 runs a piece.
After the 7th inning, neither team could produce any offense until the two teams went to extra innings.
In the top of the 11th inning with one runner out, Wilmington’s Left Fielder Jonathan McCray doubled to right field to score the winning run of the game, who would be Wander Franco.
Rocks Manager Quirk talked about McCray’s winning hit and the Rocks taking three out four games from the Nationals.
“Big hit by McCray, he hit that ball hard. He doesn’t get a chance to play all the time but he did a nice job. We talked about putting the ball in play. Nicky’s (Lopez) ball that got through for two RBI. It wasn’t hit all that hard but he put the ball in play and he forced the defense to make a play. Last night we had the sacrifice flies but hits like that are big, it forces the defense to make a play.”
“It feels really good. These guys owned us last year and they took two out of three at our place to start the season, but now we turned around and took three of four at their place so it’s big.”
Rocks were 3 for 9 in runners in scoring position and left 9 men on base in the Easter win.
Rocks ( 5-5) look to continue their three game road winning streak when they head to Salem to start a series with the Red Sox. First pitch at 7:05 pm ET.