The Blue Crew stranded 10 men on the bases in squandering a great start from hard-throwing right-hander Yordano Ventura. Mixing his dominant heater with a spectacular curve, Ventura struck out nine men over a personal season-best five frames.
He whiffed three of the first four he faced before Shoemaker sent a 1-0 pitch down the right-field line. Base umpire Ben Leake called the ball foul, prompting immediate argument from Winston-Salem skipper Tommy Thompson. After conferring with home plate arbiter John Bacon, Leake twirled his index finger, indicating a fair ball and home run.
Roman Hernandez tied the game with his two-out double in the fourth, but the Dash responded. Shoemaker's double sent the man they call the "Big Black Bear", 6'5" 240-pound first baseman Dan Black, all the way home from first in the bottom of the frame.
A similar refrain came in the sixth. Reliever Paul Burnside's wild pitch allowed Geulin Beltre to scoot home from third for a 2-2 deadlock. Alas, the Blue Rocks could not capitalize later in the inning. Justin Collop (2-0) inherited a bases-loaded jam with two outs and induced a grounder to short from Jake Kuebler to end the inning even. In the home half, Shoemaker greeted reliever Ryan Dennick (0-1) with a solo shot to left for the final score of the night.
The Blue Rocks stranded a pair of men in both the seventh and eighth, while closer Leroy Hunt bolted down his third save with a perfect ninth.
The four-game set continues at 7 p.m. on Friday night. Right-hander Greg Billo (0-2, 7.27) gets the ball for the Blue Crew against fellow righty Ryan Buch (0-0, 10.13). Broadcast coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. as studio host Rob Cunningham brings fans the Rocks Report Pre-game Show, presented by Wawa, on 89.7 WGLS-FM and online at wgls.rowan.edu.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
Winston-Salem starter Spencer Arroyo entered the night with a nightmarish ERA of 17.55 before tossing five innings of one-run ball. His efforts lowered his season-long earned run average to 10.80.
Two Blue Rocks were picked off. Spencer Arroyo got Geulin Beltre 1-3-6 in the opening inning, while catcher Miguel Gonzalez got Luis Piterson off of first in the fifth.
Leroy Hunt has yet to allow a run in five outings and seven innings. The Carolina League is hitting just .091 against him.
A number of Blue Rocks lined out on the night. Jake Kuebler did so to left in the third. Cheslor Cuthbert was robbed by the sprinting reach of Trayce Thompson in the right-center gap in the fourth. Perhaps the squad's best chance on hard contact came in the eighth. With men at the corners and two outs, Piterson ripped a sinking liner to left-center only to see the hero of the night, Brady Shoemaker, make a diving catch.
During the game, Yordano Ventura hit 100 mph on the radar guns of the Blue Rocks' charting pitchers. He also fell one strikeout short of his career-high mark. The 20-year-old struck out 10 against Wisconsin on May 27, 2011 for Low-A Kane County.
Roman Hernandez logged his first multi-hit showing as a Blue Rock with a 2-for-3 performance. He has hit safely in five straight games, hitting .333 (6-for-18) in the process with two doubles, an RBI and three runs scored.
Ryan Dennick has allowed at least one run in each of his five career outings against Winston-Salem. He is 0-2 with a 5.79 ERA and a .400 batting average against lifetime versus the Dash including three homers.
The Blue Rocks went just 2-for-9 with men in scoring position. That included an infield single by Kevin David in the eighth.
Winston-Salem finished the night with six extra-base hits, while Wilmington notched seven total knocks including a pair of doubles.
Wilmington has played a league-high seven one-run games, going 3-4 in such affairs.