Hankerd's first pinch-hit appearance with Winston-Salem came with the bases full and nobody out. It also came after an intentional walk of Juan Silverio. And it ended after an intense battle on the 10th pitch of the at-bat by reliever Chase Boruff (1-7). The result of his contact just inside of third was Winston-Salem's first lead of the night and the score that would go final.
Each team plated a run in the first as both starters showed shaky command. Matt Fields doubled in the Rocks' run while Trayce Thompson singled in a score for the hosts. But Brooks Pounders settled from that point on for Wilmington, striking out a career-high-tying eight over his 5.1 innings.
Eight men came to the plate in the visiting third as the Rocks took a brief 4-1 lead thanks to RBIs from Fields, Cheslor Cuthbert and Juan Graterol. Thompson blasted a two-run homer to left-center field that slimmed the margin to one in the bottom half of the frame and neither team tallied another run until the fateful eighth.
The Blue Rocks had a chance in the ninth. Orlando Calixte doubled with one out, allowing two opportunities with the tying run at the plate. But the Blue Rocks' two most powerful sluggers were retired by Terance Marin (5-3) on balls in the air as Brett Eibner popped to second and Fields flied to Thompson at the wall in center.
The Blue Rocks' six-game road trip shifts to Salem on Friday night. The series opener will have Wilmington right-hander Leondy Perez (3-3, 3.67) facing Red Sox righty Yeiper Castillo (2-1, 1.74) at 7:05 p.m. 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 went 2-for-16 (.125) with men in scoring position on the night and 2-for-27 (.074) in such circumstances in their two losses on the series.
Wilmington fell to 1-6 in rubber matches.
The Rocks have lost 12 of their last 14 dates with the Dash. Eight of those 14 games have been decided by two runs or less.
In 10 games against the Blue Rocks, Cyle Hankerd has hit .355. Six of his 11 hits have gone for extra-bases including four homers. His OPS against the Rocks is 1.280.
The Blue Crew entered the game with the CL's best winning percentage when leading after seven innings at 37-1 (.974).