With a heat index in excess of 100 degrees throughout the nearly three-hour game, the ball traveled well. That was evident when back-to-back home runs by Brett Eibner and Jose Bonilla began the second inning and helped the Rocks amass an early 4-0 lead. Frederick responded with its own thunder, as Ty Kelly launched a two-out three-run homer to right-center in the third against Brooks Pounders.
An inning later, Pounders got the hook when he walked Kelly to load the bases with two outs. Matt Ridings entered to face the league leader in home runs, Aaron Baker, and walked the powerful lefty on a full-count pitch to tie the game. No Key would reach against Ridings (2-0) from that point forward. The right-hander retired 10 in a row while Matt Fields' first home run as a Blue Rock greeted reliever David Baker (no relation) in the fifth, giving the Rocks the lead for good.
A three-run seventh expanded Wilmington's advantage to 8-4 as Baker (0-1) allowed four runs in four innings, just like his predecessor, Scott Copeland. But Aaron Baker put the Blue Crew lead in peril in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, he barely cleared the center field fence with his 15th homer of the campaign and the tying run came to the dish. Wilmington manager Vance Wilson came to collect the ball from Tyler Sample and brought in Runion to close the game. Runion induced a sharp grounder to short from Mike Flacco, brother of former University of Delaware star Joe Flacco, and struck out Jeremy Nowak swinging for his third save.
The three-game set continues at 7 p.m. on Monday night. Wilmington right-hander Elisaul Pimentel (0-1, 12.46) makes his second start since coming down from Double-A. He will face southpaw Tim Berry (0-2, 3.32). 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:
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 Division squads and 17-13 against their brothers in the North.
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 56 runs over its first 11 games of the second stanza for an average of 5.1 runs/game. The team that hit 31 home runs over the 70-game first half, the second-lowest total in the league, has bashed 10 early in the second. The Blue Crew hit a league-worst .231 in the first half but owns a .266 (97-for-364) contact clip so far this half.
No team in the Carolina League has played more one-run games than the Blue Rocks. With Sunday's success, the team is 14-17 in such circumstances.
The Blue Crew tied a season-high mark now recorded four times with its three home runs in the game. It last turned the trick on June 23 in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Carolina.
With the three dingers, the Rocks' home-road home run split widened all the more. An amazing 36 (88%) of the team's 41 homers have come away from Frawley Stadium.
Lane Adams started the day with three hits as a Blue Rock (3-for-33). He doubled his hit total by going 3-for-5 with a double.
Adams was one of three Blue Rocks to post three hits in the game. Cheslor Cuthbert and Angel Franco also finished the game 3-for-5. Cuthbert picked up his team-leading 34th RBI while Franco notched his 12th double.
Brett Eibner became the first Blue Rock to reach double-digit dingers with his leadoff shot in the second. He also had an RBI double and worked a walk for his first multi-hit game since June 9. He is on pace to hit 17 home runs this season, something that has happened once since Michael Evans and Sean McNally each hit 17 in 1997. Last season John Whittleman became the third Blue Rock ever to hit 20.