Once again the Rocks got things going in the first inning. Whit Merrifield sent a double over the head of Potomac center fielder Michael Taylor. A sacrifice came from Angel Franco and then a chopping groundout to third from Cheslor Cuthbert to bring home the game's first run. Moments later, Matt Fields tattooed a fastball from Potomac starter Matt Swynenberg completely out of the stadium over left field wall for a homer and a 2-0 Wilmington edge.
In the second, Wilmington continued to bring the wood. Brett Eibner started the inning with a line-single to left. Juan Graterol grounded a perfectly placed ball through the left side to put a pair of runners on base. A bunt base-hit came from Geulin Beltre to load up the bags. Luis Piterson bounced into a 6-4-3 double play that brought a run home. With a runner on third and two outs, Merrifield smoked another extra base-hit, this time to the right field gap to make the lead 4-0.
The P-Nats got a few tallies in the fourth inning against Elisaul Pimentel. Francisco Soriano drew a walk. Blake Kelso grounded a ball through the right side for a knock. With one out, both runners took off and swiped bags successfully. Kevin Keyes then chopped a base-hit up the middle to score a pair and cut the deficit to 4-2.
Piterson created a run by himself in the bottom half of the frame. He got aboard with a one-out walk. While Merrifield batted, Piterson swiped second. He then took off for third on the next pitch. Potomac catcher Erick Fernandez fired a ball to third that got under the glove of Kelso and into left field. Piterson trotted home to stretch the lead to 5-2.
After the sweeping the Nationals, the Rocks head south for a four-game series with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Monday night at 7:05 p.m. Wilmington's RHP Matt Ridings (2-0, 2.63) will duel with Myrtle Beach's RHP Randol Rojas (7-1, 2.40). 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:
In the first half, the Blue Rocks scored just 227 runs for a league-low 3.2 runs/game average. At the close of Saturday, Wilmington has scored 131 runs over its first 23 games of the second stanza for an average of 5.7 runs/game. The team that hit 31 home runs over the 70-game first half, the second-lowest total in the league, has bashed 29 through 23 games in the second half. The Blue Crew hit a league-worst .231 in the first half, but owns a .274 (220-for-802) contact clip so far this half.
For the fourth time in a row, a Blue Rocks starting pitcher picked up a victory. Elisaul Pimentel posted a W on Saturday, Jason Adam did the honors on Friday, Andy Ferguson notched one on Thursday night after Brooks Pounders did it on Wednesday. Pounders also had one on June 26 at Potomac. Those have been the only five wins by a starting pitching since Sugar Ray Marimon went to 4-0 with a victory against Carolina. Since Sugar's success, the team has played 35 games, going 13-22 in that time. That span began after Santiago Garrido, Greg Billo and Leondy Perez went on the shelf during a June 2-8 stretch.
This series with Potomac ended a stretch with 17 of 20 games against Northern Division opponents. The Rocks are 18-36 against teams from the South and 23-16 versus their brothers in the North (10-4 versus Potomac).
Thursday's result dropped the P-Nats to 0-7 at Frawley Stadium this season. During those meetings, the Blue Rocks have outscored their divisional foe, 37-11. The Rocks have won 10 games overall against Potomac, guaranteeing themselves a non-losing season against the Nats.
The win for the Rocks is their fifth in a row, which is a season-best run. The Blue Rocks have not won five straight games since they pulled off a six-game streak last season from May 19-25.
The Blue Rocks swept the four-game set against the Potomac Nationals. The last time that happened was over a decade ago, from August 29-September 1 in 2001.
Matt Fields hit his ninth homer in 13 games, a smoke shot over the left field wall and out of the park completely. To put it in perspective, he is second on the team in home runs only to Brett Eibner, who has 11 dingers. It took Eibner 63 games to hit nine home runs. Fields has hit .346 over the 13-game span with an OPS of 1.393. Nine of his 18 hits have left the yard.
The Blue Rocks have been bashing homers at an incredible rate. Wilmington entered this homestand with five home runs over its first 39 home games. It already has seven through six games on this homestand. Since failing to homer on June 30, the Blue Rocks have slammed 22 homers over a stretch of just a 13 games.
Luis Piterson swiped three bases on Saturday. His previous career-high was two, which he had done five times with the last one coming on August 15, 2011 against Billings with Idaho Falls.