Wilmington did not know a deficit through the game's first five frames. Brett Eibner's 12th homer highlighted the Rocks' three-run first while a trio of two-out doubles paced Salem's offensive in the bottom half against Leondy Perez. But thanks to Murray Watts' first homer as a Blue Rock, an opposite-way shot in the fourth, Perez left in line for the win. In his second start since coming off the DL, Perez lasted five innings and struck out a season-best eight.
However, reliever Tyler Sample surrendered back-to-back run-scoring doubles to Adalberto Ibarra and James Kang, the bottom two bats in Salem's order, as the Red Sox claimed a 5-4 lead in the sixth. An inning later, Matt Fields drew a two-out walk from Charle Rosario and Lane Adams made it matter. His opposite-way single scored Fields from first despite an on-time relay throw by Coyle. While Ibarra's tag was on Fields' leg short of the plate, the catcher dropped the ball at the plate upon receipt and the game was tied.
That draw would not last as Coyle went opposite way for a wall-scraping eighth homer of the season and the 7-5 score that would go final. Sample (1-9) gave up four runs over two innings for the loss while Rosario (4-2) whiffed five over 2.1 innings for the win. Pete Ruiz tossed 1.2 perfect innings with two strikeouts for his fourth save.
The series continues at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday night. In a battle of highly-touted prospects, the Blue Rocks' Jason Adam (3-11, 3.80) faces fellow right-hander Matt Barnes (5-4, 3.36). Broadcast coverage begins at 5:35 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:
Before the game, the Carolina League announced Matt Fields as the league's Player of the Month for July. In 27 July games, he hit .355 with 13 home runs and 19 RBIs. He scored 18 runs in the month, belted six doubles and added a triple. He recorded an on-base percentage of .425 and a slugging percentage of .794 for a 1.219 OPS. In the 23 games he played first base, he only made one error. His slugging percentage led all of minor league baseball thanks to his MiLB-best home run total on the month. His July OPS placed third in the minors while his average ranked second in the Carolina League.
This is only the eighth time a Blue Rock has won the award and the first time since outfielder Brian McFall in July of 2007. Other notable Blue Rocks who have received this honor include Johnny Damon, Glendon Rusch and Carlos Beltran.
Damon, who starred for Wilmington's first championship club in 1994, was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians on Friday. The two-time American League All-Star hit .222 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 64 games with this year's Tribe.
The Blue Rocks went 0-for-8 with men in scoring position on the night. During their three losses on this road trip, they have hit just .057 (2-for-35) with men at second and/or third.
Eight of Salem's 13 hits went for extra bases. Six of those extra-base knocks drove in runs including four with two outs.
Sean Coyle attended Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, PA, just a 43-mile drive north of the Blue Rocks' Frawley Stadium.