The Hillcats struck first in the ninth inning. A leadoff single through the ride side against Wilmington reliever Nick Rogers came off the bat of Adam Milligan, who was promptly lifted for Emerson Landoni as a pinch-runner. Edward Salcedo singled to left on a hit-and-run with two strikes, moving Landoni to third base. Bobby Stevens would get the job done, driving in Landoni on a sacrifice fly to center field for a 1-0 Lynchburg advantage.
Juan Jaime came on in the ninth and pitched a 1-2-3 inning for his 15th save of the year in the Lynchburg victory.
Both starters, Wilmington's Yordano Ventura and Lynchburg's Gus Schlosser, were stellar in their showings.
Schlosser faced one man over the minimum through his first five innings of work, allowing just two hit in that span to go with five strikeouts. He ran into some trouble in the sixth inning but worked his way out of it. With one out, Kevin David singled to center and was followed by an Angel Franco poke to left field. The threat stalled, however, after Orlando Calixte popped out on the first pitch and Whit Merrifield struck out swinging.
Ventura was brilliant for Wilmington, chalking up 10 strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work. The strikeout total tied a season and career-high for the prized prospect. He faced one man over the minimum through his first three innings. He escaped a man on third base, two-out jam in the fourth inning. In the sixth inning, he allowed two men to reach in his first four batters faced. Logging a lot of pitches over those four sequences, manager Vance Wilson replaced him with reliever Nick Graffeo. With two on and two out, Graffeo induced a pop-up of Salcedo to retire the side.
Matt Chaffee notched the victory for the Hillcats. He tossed two scoreless innings, chalking up three strikeouts.
The Rocks hit the road for a six-game trip and it starts with a three-game series in Frederick against the Keys on Sunday at 4 p.m. Wilmington's RHP Brooks Pounders (1-2, 4.67) faces Frederick's RHP Scott Copeland (3-7, 5.94). Broadcast coverage begins at 3:30 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:
The Blue Rocks are in the midst of facing only divisional foes over a stretch of 13 straight and 17 of 20. The Rocks are 17-34 against Southern squads and 16-13 against their brothers in the North. With tonight's loss to Lynchburg, the Blue Crew now have a non-losing record against every team in the North, but has lost more than it has won against all four teams in the South.
In the first half, the Blue Rocks scored just 227 runs for a league-low 3.2 runs/game average. Despite playing two seven-inning games and being held to one run on Sunday, Wilmington has scored 48 runs over its first 10 games of the second stanza for an average of 4.8 runs/game. The team that hit 31 home runs over the 70-game first half, the second-lowest total in the league, has bashed seven early in the second. The Blue Crew hit a league-worst .231 in the first half but owns a .249 (81-for-325) contact clip so far this half.
The shutout against the Blue Rocks was their 10th of the season and their first since June 13 when they were shutout at home in seven innings by the Salem Red Sox. The 10 blankings lead the leagues. The team that has nabbed them the most in that category is the Lynchburg Hillcats, who have done it to the Rocks three times. All three of those contests were 1-0 decisions.
Wilmington could not pull off the sweep at home against the Hillcats on Saturday evening. The Blue Rocks have not swept Lynchburg in Delaware since taking a three-game set from July 27-29, 2009.
For the second night in a row, the Carolina League's worst offense was held to five hits or less, the 24th time this season it has taken place. Unlike Friday, the Rocks were not victorious putting their record at 4-20 when they have five knocks or fewer.
Early on in the season, it was Jason Adam who received no run support. Recently, Yordano Ventura has that bad luck on his side. After receiving none on Saturday, the Blue Rocks bats now average 2.6 runs per game (39 runs in 15 games) when Ventura takes the mound. In his last five starts, he has gotten just 12 runs of help in his last six outings.
Facing another slow thrower for the second time in two days, Gus Schlosser shut down the Blue Rocks bats with six shutout frames. He is 1-1 in three starts against Wilmington this season with a 0.90 ERA. In 20 innings of total work, he has allowed just 16 hits, one walk and 14 strikeouts.
Brett Eibner became the fifth man in minor league baseball to crack the 100 strikeout mark this season. He has struck out 12 times in his last 20 at-bats.