Down 3-2 in the sixth inning, the Rocks dug deep and scored a comeback against Winston-Salem reliever Justin Collop. Brian Fletcher walked on four pitches. With Fletcher in motion early in the count, Brett Eibner spanked a triple to the alley in right center field to knot up the ball game. With one out, Geulin Beltre chopped a ball up the middle past the drawn-in infield of Winston-Salem to deliver a 4-3 lead for Wilmington.
Sam Runion came on in relief the half inning prior and held the deficit at 3-2. With two on and two out, Runion plunked the first man he faced in Cyle Hankerd with a 1-2 pitch to load the bags. He then struck out Mike Blanke looking to end the jam and keep the Rocks within a run.
Hankerd banged solo homers in the second and fifth against Jason Adam to open the scoring for Winston-Salem at 2-0.
The Rocks tied the ballgame up in the fifth. Beltre and Kevin David worked walks against Dash starter Steve McCray. After a sacrifice from Jake Kuebler moved the runners up, Alex McClure struck out. Whit Merrifield kept the threat alive by getting aboard with a walk. Angel Franco came to the dish with previous success in bases loaded situations and did not disappoint. The Rocks designated hitter for the evening poked a bloop single to center that scored Beltre and David to tie the game at two apiece.
The Dash took the lead for a second time in the top half of the sixth inning. With men on first and second against Adam, Dan Black dumped an RBI single to center to give Winston-Salem a 3-2 lead. Adam left the game a batter later as he was replaced by Runion.
The Rocks continue this four-game series with the Winston-Salem Dash on Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Wilmington's RHP Sugar Ray Marimon (4-1, 2.05) deals against Winston-Salem's LHP Spencer Arroyo (4-3, 4.73). Broadcast coverage begins at 6:35 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:
The Blue Rocks scored four runs in Thursday's win. They hadn't done so since their last win before the eight-game losing streak when they took care of the Carolina Mudcats by a 5-2 mark on June 5 at Frawley Stadium. Wilmington has been held to three runs or less in 19 of its last 21 games and in 42 of its 66 on the year. Over the greater span, the team is 10-32 when held to three or less and 19-6 when plating four plus.
The Blue Rocks eight-game losing streak was finally snapped on Thursday. They lost the final two games of a four-game set with the Carolina Mudcats from June 6-7 before being swept over the weekend by Winston-Salem. A brooming by the Salem Red Sox followed earlier this week. Wilmington had not lost eight in a row since dropping exactly that many from May 1-7, 2010. The team's last eight-game skid came from June 24-July 4, 2005 en route to the worst season in team history (60-80). The team's all-time worst losing streak is 10 games. It last happened in 2000, when they lost 10 consecutive from May 27-June 4.
The win on Thursday was the Blue Rocks 12th one-run win of the season, after they dropped a one-run game to Salem in the first half of the doubleheader on Wednesday. They are now 12-12 in games decided by a single tally.
Jason Adam did not get a win but he finally ended a string of consecutive starts losses at eight. The last time he received a win or no-decision came back on April 23 at Salem when he picked up a victory against the Sox at Salem Memorial Stadium. The Rocks won't have a winning record in the first half but most of their 29 victories have come in exciting fashion. 15 of the club's first half triumphs have happened in come-from-behind fashion.
Winston-Salem's magic number to clinch the first-half crown in the Southern Division stays at two. A loss to Wilmington and a 4-3 Salem victory over Carolina keeps the Sox very much alive. A Dash win and a Salem Red Sox loss on Friday would secure Tommy Thompson's club a spot in the 2012 S.D.C.S.
When eight innings are in the books and the Blue Rocks are leading, Wilmington hasn't lost a game. They are 20-0 in those situations. On the flip side, even with the best record in the league, the Winston-Salem Dash have not pulled out a victory when trailing after eight frames. They have a mark of 0-21.