WILMINGTON BLUE ROCKS TEAM HISTORY
In 1940, R.R.M. (Bob) Carpenter brought professional baseball back to the city with the original Wilmington Blue Rocks. The team was a Class B Interstate League affiliate of the Philadelphia A's. Hall-of-Famer Connie Mack owned the Blue Rocks for their first four years of existence. Another Hall-of-Famer, Chief Bender, served as the Blue Rocks first manager.
In 1943, Carpenter, who was a partner with Mack since the Blue Rocks' inception, took full ownership of the club. For their final nine years, the original Blue Rocks were a Philadelphia Phillies affiliate.
The nickname "Blue Rocks" came from 73-year-old Robert Miller in a name-the-team contest. Miller lived in the Henry Clay section of the city, famed for its blue granite found along the Brandywine River.
The Blue Rocks played in Wilmington Park, a $185,000 facility at 30th Street and Governor Printz Boulevard. At the time, it was considered one of the finest minor league parks in the country.
In Wilmington's 13 years in the Interstate League, the Blue Rocks won four Governor's Cup titles and missed the postseason only twice. Pitchers Robin Roberts and Curt Simmons and outfielder Elmer Valo were some of the notables who played for the Blue Rocks before going to the major leagues.
After setting many records for attendance, the Blue Rocks' fan support dwindled and 1952 was their final season in the Interstate League.
In 1993, the Blue Rocks returned to professional baseball as the Class-A Carolina League affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The franchise, formerly known as the Peninsula Pilots, was moved from Hampton, VA.
The stadium, built by the construction company of Blue Rocks President Matt Minker, was named Legends Stadium (later changed to Judy Johnson Field at Daniel S. Frawley Stadium).
Like their forerunners, the modern Blue Rocks have enjoyed great on-field success. Since their return in 1993, Wilmington has one of best winning percentages in all of Minor League Baseball, winning eight Northern Division titles in 12 years and four Carolina League championships.
April 8 - The first game in modern Blue Rocks history is played at Winston-Salem's Ernie Shore Field. The Spirits defeat Wilmington, 6-3, in front of 5,731. Kevin Jarvis earns the win and John Gross suffers the loss.
April 10 - The Blue Rocks post their first win in team history. Jon Lieber picks up the victory in a 9-2 win over Winston-Salem on Ernie Shore Field. Later that night, Darren Burton hits the first home run in team history in the second game of a doubleheader.
April 17 - The Blue Rocks open Frawley Stadium (Legends Stadium at the time) with a dramatic 6-5 victory over Winston-Salem. Wilmington scores four times in the bottom of the ninth inning to win. The rally is capped with a two-run single by Raul Gonzalez.
June 12 - The Blue Rocks clinch the first-half Northern Division title with a wild 12-7 win over Lynchburg.
September 6 - The Blue Rocks complete a two-game sweep of the Frederick Keys to win the Northern Division Championship Series and advance to the Mills Cup Championship Series. Brian Harrison tosses the second of back-to-back shutouts to lead the Rocks to a 3-0 victory.
September 8 - The Blue Rocks open the Carolina League Championship Series with a 6-5, 14-inning win over Winston-Salem. The Spirits then win three in a row to take the 1993 Carolina League title.
~ 1994 ~
June 11 - Andy Stewart's two-out single drives home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Blue Rocks a 4-3 win, clinching the first-half Northern Division title.
July 20 - Blue Rocks catcher Lance Jennings hits a two-out, solo homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Northern Division a 2-1 win in the Carolina League All-Star Game. A crowd of 6,893 is on hand at Frawley Stadium.
September 2 - In Frederick, the Blue Rocks defeat the Keys, 8-2, to clinch the second-half Northern Division title. Catcher Sal Fasano's first-inning grand slam gives the Blue Rocks an early lead that they would never relinquish.
September 10 -- At Frawley, Wilmington defeats Winston-Salem, 7-3, in Game Three to capture its first Carolina League championship. Lance Jennings hits two home runs and drives in four runs to capture MVP honors.
~ 1995 ~
April 15 - At Frawley Stadium, Jose Rosado and Pat Flury combine to toss the first no-hitter in club history in a 3-0 win over Winston-Salem.
May 3 - Anthony Medrano, Mendy Lopez, and Carlos Mendez turn the first triple play in franchise history versus Kinston.
August 22 - Tim Byrdak and Eric Anderson team up to blank Salem and Mike Sweeney belts two home runs in a 5-0 victory that clinches the second-half Northern Division title.
September 4 - The Blue Rocks win at Prince William, 9-5, to wrap up the Northern Division Championship Series and set up a Mills Cup Championship Series showdown with Kinston. However, the Rocks lose the series to Kinston in three.
~ 1996 ~
June 15 - Utility man Jimmie Byington becomes the first player in Blue Rocks history to play every position on the field during a game.
July 24 - Relief pitcher Steve Prihoda strikes out eight consecutive Lynchburg Hillcats hitters for a new club record.
August 15 - Steve Prihoda establishes a Blue Rocks single-season record, earning his 25th save of the season in a 2-1 win over the Frederick Keys at Harry Grove Stadium.
September 10 - Hurricane Fran forces Game Three of the Mills Cup Championship Series into Frawley Stadium. Kinston, surrendering its home games, wins on a David Miller home run in the bottom of the ninth. The following day, Wilmington wins the Mills Cup on Matt Smith's two-run homer in the top of the 11th inning.
~ 1997 ~
April 10 - Salem pitchers Scott Randall and Lariel Gonzalez combine on a seven-inning no-hitter as the Avalanche defeat Wilmington, 1-0. It is the first time the Blue Rocks have been held hitless in a game.
April 17-20 - Blue Rocks pitchers combine to set a new team record by throwing 33 consecutive innings without allowing a run.
July 29 - Matt Treanor becomes the first Blue Rock to be traded during the season. The catcher is shipped to the Florida Marlins in exchange for pitcher Matt Whisenant.
August 2 - Mike Evans smacks his 32nd home run as a Blue Rock to become the all-time home run leader in team history, surpassing Raul Gonzalez.
August 9 - Carlos Febles swipes his 45th stolen base to set a new Blue Rocks single-season record.
August 15 - A 4-3 loss to Winston-Salem in 11 innings eliminates Wilmington from postseason contention. It marks the first time the Blue Rocks missed the playoffs in their first five seasons.
~ 1998 ~
June 19 - The Blue Rocks pound Frederick, 12-1, and clinch the first-half Northern Division title.
June 23 - Frawley Stadium hosts the 1998 Carolina League All-Star Game. The Northern Division defeats the Southern Division, 5-2. Blue Rocks second baseman Emiliano Escandon is named the game's MVP after his eighth-inning, bases-loaded double drives in three runs to break a 2-2 tie. Before the game, Robin Roberts (an original Blue Rock in 1948) becomes the first inductee into the Blue Rocks Hall of Fame, and his No. 36 is retired.
July 5 - It takes a Carolina League record 21 innings over six hours and 23 minutes, but the Blue Rocks defeat the Danville 97s, 3-2, at Frawley Stadium. The game is marked by five ejections, including Blue Rocks manager Darrell Evans and pitching coach Steve Crawford.
July 17 - Manager Darrell Evans is fired by the Kansas City Royals. Hitting coach Kevin Long fills in on an interim basis. Brian Poldberg replaces Kevin Long six days later.
September 4 - The Blue Rocks clinch the second-half Northern Division title with a 4-3 victory over Prince William.
September 10 - The Blue Rocks capture their third Carolina League Championship Series crown with a 3-2 victory over the Winston-Salem Warthogs in Game Four. Paul Phillips, who was called up from Short-Season Spokane during the final week of the regular season, is named series MVP.
~ 1999 ~
April 18 - Wilmington sets new team records for runs and hits with a 20-3 blowout in Myrtle Beach. Dee Brown leads the 23-hit assault by becoming the first Blue Rock to hit for the cycle.
June 11 - The Blue Rocks lose at home to Myrtle Beach, but clinch the first-half Northern Division title. The loss is the beginning of a record eight-game home losing streak.
June 23 - Vic Radcliff breaks a 6-6 tie in the 10th inning with an RBI double to lead the Carolina League All-Stars over the California League All-Stars, 7-6. Radcliff goes 2-for-2 and is named the game's MVP. Steve Medrano adds a three-run homer, also in the 10th.
August 31 - Wilmington clinches the second-half Northern Division title with a 4-1 win over Salem.
September 13 - Joe Caruso's dramatic three-run homer in the seventh inning helps lead Wilmington to a 7-3 victory over Myrtle Beach in Game Four of the Carolina League Championship Series. Game Five is canceled because of Hurricane Floyd and the two teams are named co-champions.
~ 2000 ~
May 2 - At Frawley Stadium, Brian Sanches tosses the Blue Rocks first nine-inning, no-hitter in team history, blanking the Lynchburg Hillcats, 5-0. Sanches walks two and records 11 strikeouts in the contest.
June 4 - In Salem, the Blue Rocks tie a franchise record by losing their 10th straight game in dropping a 9-6 decision to the Avalanche. The Rocks defeat the Lynchburg Hillcats the next day to end the losing streak at 10 games.
June 18 - In Potomac, the Blue Rocks end the first half of the season with the worst first-half record (29-41) in team history. The Rocks lose both ends of a twinbill to the Cannons, 4-3 in the first game and 4-1 in the nightcap.
August 5 - Jeremy Affeldt suffers his franchise record 12th loss of the season as the Blue Rocks drop game one of a double-header in Myrtle Beach. Affeldt ends the season with a 5-15 record for Wilmington.
August 10 - In Kinston, Brandon Berger smacks his 12th home run of the season and his 36th in a Blue Rocks uniform, breaking Michael Evans' all-time home run record. Berger finishes the season with 15 home runs and 39 round-trippers in his three seasons with Wilmington.
~ 2001 ~
April 1 - The Blue Rocks welcome the parent Kansas City Royals to the newly expanded Frawley Stadium for an exhibition game. The game ends in a 3-3 tie. The sellout crowd of 7,269 sees former Blue Rocks Mike Sweeney, Dee Brown, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Febles, Joe Caruso and Dave Ullery play for the Royals.
June 17 - The Blue Rocks defeat the Salem Avalanche, 2-1, in game one of a doubleheader and capture the first-half Northern Division title. This secures the club's seventh postseason bid in nine seasons in the Carolina League.
June 20 - Blue Rocks hurler Cary Ammons is traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for infielder Donnie Sadler. Ammons went 2-6 with a 3.88 ERA in 12 starts for Wilmington before the trade.
August 6 - Jeff Garber wins his 200th game as the manager of the Blue Rocks with Wilmington's 9-3 victory over the Salem Avalanche at Frawley Stadium.
September 1 - Corey Hart goes 1-for-5 in the Blue Rocks win over Potomac and establishes a new club record with a 19-game hitting streak. Alexis Gomez hit safely in 18 straight games from April 19-May 19 to break the old mark of 17 straight games with a hit by Andy Stewart (1994) and Mark Quinn (1997).
September 5 - Jimmy Gobble fans a career-high 15 batters and the Blue Rocks defeat Fredick, 13-0, at Frawley. The Rocks sweep the Division Series, 2-0, to advance to the Mills Cup Championship Series for the seventh time in nine years.
September 10 - The Blue Rocks fall to Salem, 6-4, in Game Five of the Championship Series. Jimmy Gobble suffers the loss for Wilmington. John Lindsey hits two home runs and is named MVP of the Championship Series.
~ 2002 ~
April 16 - Manager Jeff Garber earns his 226th win as Blue Rocks skipper and surpasses John Mizerock's 225 wins over a three-year period to take over first place in the Blue Rocks all-time wins column. Wilmington defeats Kinston, 5-2, with Wes Obermueller earning the victory out of the bullpen.
June 16 - On the final day of the first half, Ian Ferguson picks up his 11th win of the season and 21st career win with Wilmington as the Blue Rocks clinch the first-half Northern Division title with a 9-1 win over Winston-Salem. The Rocks and Lynchburg finish the first half with identical records at 47-23 and Wilmington wins the head-to-head tiebreaker, 7-2. The first-half title is the seventh for Wilmington over 10 years.
June 18 - The Blue Rocks and Frawley Stadium host the 2002 Carolina-California League All-Star Game. Jeff Garber manages the Carolina League All-Stars. David DeJesus, Ian Ferguson, Byron Gettis and Thomas Lora represent Wilmington in the game that ends in a 3-3 tie after 10 innings. Ferguson starts the game and goes one inning for the Carolina League.
August 31 - Danny Tamayo becomes Wilmington's second 14-game winner all-time, allowing one unearned run on four hits over five innings in a 6-1 win over the Potomac Cannons.
September 6 - The Lynchburg Hillcats capture the 2002 Northern Division championship with a 4-3 win over the Blue Rocks. Marco Cunningham and Byron Gettis hit back-to-back homers in the first inning against Lynchburg starter, Mike Connolly, to take a 3-1 lead. The Hillcats went ahead for good in the fourth inning on a three-run home run by Randy Meadows against losing pitcher Dusty Wrightsman. It marks the first time in club history Wilmington failed to reach the Championship Series after qualifying for the postseason.
~ 2003 ~
July 4 - Zack Greinke and two relievers combine on a three-hit shutout win as the Blue Rocks defeat Kinston, 2-0. In his final start with Wilmington, Greinke tosses seven innings of one-hit shutout baseball. The 19-year-old retires 14 in a row before allowing a two-out single to Miguel Quintana in the fifth. He finishes up by retiring seven in a row and 21 of the 22 batters he faces over seven innings. Robbie Morrison allows a leadoff double in the ninth inning, but retires the next three hitters to preserve the shutout and register his third save.
August 6 - Brian Bass comes within one out of a no-hitter, but it is spoiled by a Brian Becker two-out solo homer in the ninth as Wilmington defeats Winston-Salem, 6-1. Bass exits after the homer and notches his ninth win of the year. The 21-year-old goes 8.2 innings, allowing one run on one hit. He walks two, hits a batter, and fans eight. Trey Dyson goes 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI in the victory.
August 29 - Wilmington defeats the Potomac Cannons, 1-0, in front of a season-high 7,424 fans at Frawley. Kyle Middleton allows three hits and strikes out a season-high 10 over seven-shutout innings. The Rocks score the game's only run in the eighth on a run-scoring single by James Shanks. Robbie Morrison works a 1-2-3 ninth inning to secure his 10th save of the year and his 25th with Wilmington, dating back to 1999.
~ 2004 ~
June 9 - The Wilmington Blue Rocks and the Kinston Indians combine to score 30 runs in the Rocks' 18-12 victory at Frawley Stadium. The 30 runs scored sets a franchise record for most total runs in a nine-inning game. Both teams amass 35 hits, tying a single-game mark. Wilmington bats around in three separate innings: the first, fourth, and seventh. Mel Stocker gets two plate appearances in the same frame three times.
June 20 - In a ceremony held at Frawley Stadium, the Blue Rocks retire Mike Sweeney's No. 33. Sweeney played with the Blue Rocks in 1995 and made his Major League debut on September 4, 1995 with the KC Royals. Sweeney and former Blue Rocks manager John Mizerock attend the ceremony.
September 4 - The Wilmington Blue Rocks win their last home night game of the season in walk-off fashion, as Mitch Maier turns a 5-4 Frederick lead into a 6-5 Blue Rocks victory with a two-out, two-run home run in the ninth inning. The blast was hit before a sellout crowd of 7,158, the second-largest crowd at Frawley Stadium in 2004.
September 10 - Three Wilmington pitchers hold Potomac to three hits, blanking the Cannons in the Blue Rocks 4-0 Divisional Series- clinching victory. Devon Lowery, Nate Hoelscher, and Ryan Braun combined on the shutout. The Rocks advance to the Mills Cup Championship Series for the eighth time in 12 seasons and for the first time since 2001.
September 15 - The Kinston Indians complete their comeback from a 2-0 Mills Cup Championship Series deficit and win their third consecutive game at Frawley Stadium to defeat the Blue Rocks, 3-1, and the win the Carolina League championship. The Game Five defeat is the second all-time for Wilmington in the Mills Cup Championship Series (Salem, 2001).
September 21 - The Blue Rocks join Red Sox Nation as they announce a two-year player development contract with Boston. The new PDC ends a 12-year run with the Kansas City Royals as the Blue Rocks' parent club.
~ 2005 ~
June 16 - John McAdams, who served as the voice of Frawley Stadium since the club's inaugural season in 1993, passes away at the age of 64. "Johnny Mac" was recognized as a true friend by everyone associated with the Blue Rocks over the years. He was remembered by the likes of Philadelphia Phillies public address announcer Dan Baker and former LaSalle basketball coach Speedy Morris in a pre-game ceremony on Saturday, June 18 at Frawley Stadium.
August 18 - The Blue Rocks establish a new franchise record by coming from nine runs down en route to an 11-10 win over the Winston-Salem Warthogs at Ernie Shore Field.
~ 2006 ~
July 4 - Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury ties the franchise record for stolen bases in a single game when he swiped four on Fourth of July against Salem at Frawley. It was the first time a Blue Rock stole four bases in a game since Pat Hallmark swiped four at Salem in 1998, and only the third time overall a Rock accomplished the feat.
August 15 - Catcher John Otness ties the single-game franchise record for hits with five against the Keys at Frederick.
August 30 - Wilmington takes game two of a doubleheader against the Avalanche, 4-1. The win snaps Salem's winning streak at 14, the longest in the Carolina League since 1959 when the Raleigh Capitals won 15 in a row.
September 3 - Closer Mike James gets Frederick's Paco Figueroa to pop out to second base with the tying run in scoring position for a 5-4 win over the Keys at Frawley. James earns his 25th save of the season, tying the single-season franchise record set a decade earlier by Steve Prihoda in 1996.
September 20 - The Blue Rocks announce a "Return To Royalty" by announcing a two-year player development contract with the Kansas City Royals for 2007 and 2008.
November 16 - The Kansas City Royals announce Wilmington's coaching staff for the 2007 season, including a familiar face at the helm. John Mizerock, manager of the Blue Rocks from 1995-97, would return to manage in Wilmington again in 2007. The Blue Rocks went 225-193 (.538) under Mizerock during his original tenure. His previous three seasons included three half championships, two Northern Division titles and one Carolina League Mills Cup championship in 1996.
~ 2007 ~
April 12 - Third baseman Mario Lisson ties the single-game franchise record for hits with five in Kinston against the Indians.
April 24 - Southpaw Rowdy Hardy finishes his own rain suspended start by going all nine innings in a 12-1 blasting of the Lynchburg Hillcats for his franchise-record 15th win of the season. The opener of an impromptu doubleheader started the Sunday prior in Wilmington proves to be the most lopsided win for the Blue Rocks all season. It also marks Hardy's third nine-inning complete game of the year. The lanky lefty sits down 17 of the last 21 batters he faces, and the lone run against him is unearned.
August 31 - After faltering in their division clinching attempts the previous two nights, the Wilmington Blue Rocks finally punch their postseason ticket with a 4-0-shutout victory over the Salem Avalanche at Frawley Stadium. The Rocks' triumph wraps up the second-half title in the Northern Division, thrusting Wilmington into the Carolina League playoffs for the 12th time in the club's 15-year existence. The half-championship is the 18th in franchise history and the fourth under manager John Mizerock. All-Star right-hander Julio Pimentel scatters four hits and two walks with two strikeouts over seven scoreless frames.
November 10 - Longtime Blue Rocks majority owner and team president, Matt Minker, passes away after a five-year battle with cancer. Minker's construction company literally built Frawley Stadium in an eye-popping five months in 1992-93.
~ 2008 ~
April 4 - The Wilmington Blue Rocks honored late team president Matt Minker with a special on-field ceremony. Minker passed away last November after a prolonged battle with cancer. Among those in attendance were Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner, Deputy Mayor Bill Montgomery of Wilmington and Kansas City Royals player development director J.J. Picollo. The team also unveiled a Matt Minker memorial on the Frawley Stadium scoreboard, which incorporates the Blue Rocks "Rally Train" with Minker's initials inscribed on it.
July 31 - Derrick Robinson became the first Blue Rock in franchise history to steal 50 bases in a season when he swiped second base off Brandon Erbe and catcher Justin Johnson in the third inning. Robinson finished the 2008 season as the Carolina League and Royals organization leader in steals.
August 29 - Despite losing to the Potomac Nationals, 3-1, the Wilmington Blue Rocks claimed their first-ever wild card berth and their 13th postseason appearance in 16 seasons, when the Frederick Keys lost to the Winston-Salem Warthogs.
~ 2009 ~
Wilmington, DE - It was another magnificent season for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. For the 14th time in its 17 years of existence the Blue Crew qualified for the Carolina League's postseason. And although the team came up short of its ultimate goal, the Rocks' first Mills Cup Championship since 1999, this Wilmington squad will not soon be forgotten. In 2009 the Rocks finished the regular season with the CL's best record, won the second-half Northern Division title by four games, captured the league's best staff ERA by more than half a run, and established a franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings. It was one wild ride.
April - The season's first month saw the Blue Crew stagger out of the gate. Wilmington played up-and-down baseball as it finished April with a 10-11 record, three games behind the first-place Lynchburg Hillcats. Three players were not bothered by the early-season cold weather, as they raced out of the gate red-hot. Clint Robinson led the way, batting a team-high .356 with three home runs and 13 runs batted in during April. His torrid stretch began right from the very first game, as he opened the season with hits in each of the first eight contests. Jeff Bianchi and David Lough also had big months. Lough hit .338, roped six doubles, and tied for the team lead with 15 RBIs. On April 11, Lough hit the first Blue Rocks home run of the season as he knocked in four runs during an 11-9 win over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Bianchi batted .324 and boasted an on-base percentage of .415. The shortstop was part of the month's most memorable finish on April 19 at Frawley Stadium. After Wilmington let a ninth-inning lead slip away, the game went to extras. Bianchi, who had been given the afternoon off, got his first at-bat of the day in the 10th and reached base. He was at third when Anthony Seratelli stepped to the plate and laid down a perfect squeeze bunt. Bianchi raced home in front of the throw for the walk-off win. As exciting as that finish was, it still did not compare to the cool, crisp night in Kinston when Johnny Giavotella single-handedly carried the Rocks to a victory. The second baseman equaled a franchise record, driving in seven runs during Wilmington's win over the K-Tribe. Giavotella smacked two home runs that night, including a grand slam. He would finish the month with a team-best 17 runs scored, and tied for the Carolina League lead with three triples.
May - The campaign's second month saw the Lynchburg Hillcats pull away from the Rocks in the race for a first-half Carolina League North crown. Wilmington went 15-13 in May, finishing the month three games over .500 overall, but seven games behind the Hillkitties. Despite the struggles in the standings, Wilmington provided plenty of awe-inspiring moments. The starting staff was superb, as two young left-handers led the way. Danny Duffy and Everett Teaford went a combined 6-1 over 11 starts in May. Teaford, who was in the midst of his second season on the Riverfront, proved just about unhittable. The Alpharetta, GA native was a perfect 3-0 with a measly 1.47 earned run average. In 30.2 innings pitched, he struck out 21 and walked only six. On May 26, Teaford was named the Carolina League's Pitcher of the Week award. Duffy, meanwhile, was no slouch himself. The youngest pitcher on Wilmington's Opening Day roster went 3-1 in May with a 2.10 ERA. Offensively, Mike Moustakas shined bright, establishing a team-best 12-game hitting streak from May 8-22. Kansas City's top prospect finished the month with three home runs and a team-high 20 RBIs.
June - During the season's third month the Wilmington roster went through a transition. On to Double-A went Bianchi, Lough, Teaford, and the team's closer Aaron Hartsock. The veterans who began the year in Wilmington would eventually give way to a bunch of young pups that would rally around each other, and eventually put together one of the most memorable regular-season rides in Blue Rocks history. But until the reinforcements arrived, Wilmington continued to rely on its pitching staff. That staff made history during a four-game stretch from June 7-11. Wilmington recorded four consecutive shutout victories, and did not allow its opponents to score a run for 38 consecutive innings. Both accomplishments were good for franchise records. Two of its starters in fact were so good, they were named to the Carolina League All-Star team on June 7. Duffy and Teaford received the accolades, along with offensive stalwarts Moustakas and Lough. Teaford would miss out on his trip to California thanks to his promotion, but the other three journeyed out west for the June 23 exhibition with the California League All-Stars. Moustakas and Lough each recorded hits, while Duffy tossed a scoreless frame, but it was not enough, as the Carolina League fell, 2-1. The Blue Crew was mathematically eliminated from first-half contention on June 17. Two days later, the Blue Rocks suffered another indignity as they were no-hit in a seven-inning game by Winston-Salem's Levi Maxwell. Wilmington went 16-10 in June, and set its sights on bigger and better things in the season's second half.
July - Duffy's phenomenal season reached its peak in July, as the left-hander became the first-ever active Wilmington Blue Rock to appear in the 11th annual XM All-Star Future's Game on July 12. Duffy entered the game in the fifth frame. He allowed two men to reach, one on a walk and the other on a single, but also managed to retire two batters before giving way to Arizona farmhand Jarrod Parker. Duffy would also be named the Carolina League's Pitcher of the Week on July 21. Elsewhere, the Wilmington roster received critical infusions of young talent, and began to take the shape of the team that would dominate the season's final month. Eric Hosmer, Nick Van Stratten, Danny Gutierrez, Michael Montgomery and Zach Peterson all made their Wilmington debuts in July, and all would play critical roles in the Rocks capturing another postseason berth. While the Rocks' lost another closer to Double-A in Juan Abreu, that departure blessed Brandon Sisk with solo end-game duties. He would go on to star for the squad, not blowing a single save try from then forward en route to team Pitcher of the Year honors. For the second consecutive month, Wilmington finished six games above .500. It proved the most modest of a precursor compared to what would arrive around the corner.
August - The Wilmington Blue Rocks were a dominant baseball team in the month of August. The Blue Crew went 21-9, and won games in seemingly every way imaginable. On Aug. 1, Derrick Robinson set the tone for one of the more unlikely power surges the Blue Rocks have seen. The center fielder's two-run homer capped off a five-run fifth inning which led Wilmington to an 8-3 victory over the Salem Red Sox. The round-tripper ended Robinson's 221-game, 895-at-bat homerless streak as a Blue Rock, and it set the tone for the entire month. The very next night Robinson went deep again, as the Rocks tied a franchise record with five home runs as a team in an 11-3 rout of Winston-Salem. Wilmington just kept winning, and on Aug. 7, the Rocks' 8-1 victory over the Potomac Nationals established another franchise record, this time with a 12-game winning streak. Although Wilmington's streak ended one night later, the Rocks wasted little time assembling a new streak, as they took a critical Sunday afternoon contest from the P-Nats thanks to a late rally. Wilmington scored six unanswered runs, including three in the eighth, as it took a 6-4 decision to take sole possession of first place in the CL North. However, one week later, Wilmington would let first place slip through its fingers. The Potomac Nationals came into Frawley Stadium and took four straight games from the Blue Crew, moving a half-game ahead of Wilmington in the standings. Two days later though, the Rocks swept a doubleheader from the Frederick Keys and regained sole possession of first place from the P-Nats. It would be a position Wilmington would not relinquish for the rest of the season. The Rocks got excellent pitching performances in the month from Montgomery, Gutierrez, Eduardo Paulino and Alex Caldera. Montgomery and Caldera were each named CL Pitcher of the Week, while Gutierrez had an ERA of just 1.85 in six starts, and Paulino was named Wilmington's Pitcher of the Month thanks to a 5-0 mark. Offensively, Robinson ended the month with a team-best five home runs. He also broke his own franchise record for most stolen bases in a season during a three-steal night on Aug. 19. He finished the year with 69 thefts. Robinson would be the only Rock named to the postseason Carolina League All-Star team. Moustakas also had a big month, driving in 23, and batting .280.
September - Wilmington began the month in style, winning two straight to move the magic number down to one, which set up an opportunity to clinch a postseason berth at home on Sept. 4 against the Frederick Keys. The Blue Crew got seven innings of two-run ball from Paulino, and two RBIs each from Jamar Walton and Chase Fontaine as it took a 5-2 decision from the Keys. Afterward, manager Brian Rupp's team celebrated in the clubhouse, and immediately turned its sights towards the playoffs. The Carolina League Northern Division Championship Series began in Lynchburg on Sept. 9. Paulino (1-0) was brilliant in Game One, allowing only a single score on four hits in 6.1 sterling frames to grab his eighth straight winning decision over a stretch of nine starts. It was Wilmington's first playoff victory since 2006. The Rocks dropped Game Two, 1-0, sending the best-of-five series back to Wilmington even at 1-1. The Blue Rocks seemed to seize control of the set one night later, as they took what may have been the most exciting postseason game in team history on a walk-off homer in 12 innings, 2-0. Game Three was delayed 46 minutes at the outset due to wet weather, and it was played through a constant dreary mist in bitterly cold temperatures. But after gunning down two men at the plate, and pitching out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam to preserve the shutout, Wilmington's spirits were warmed in the home 12th. After Clint Robinson opened the inning with a single, Hosmer blasted a home run deep into the right-field night sky for a walk-off win. Unfortunately for the Blue Rocks, it would be their last victory of 2009. Lynchburg would take Game Four at Frawley, 5-2, and then would win a decisive Game Five in Virginia, also by a 5-2 decision. The Hillcats would go on to prove their upset was no fluke, sweeping away Salem in the finals to take their first Carolina League crown since 2002. The Blue Rocks have dropped the N.D.C.S. to the eventual league champion in each of the last three seasons.