Lost en route to the dramatic ending was a battle of prospect starters. Down 2-0, Wilmington got to Matt Barnes with a two-out RBI double by Orlando Calixte in the fourth. Run-scoring hits from Brett Eibner and Matt Fields chased the former UConn star in the fifth, and gave Jason Adam a 4-2 lead. But on the day he turned 21, the Rocks' tough-luck ace gave up the lead in the sixth. Adalberto Ibarra's two-run double sent Adam to the clubhouse without an out on the board. Nick Graffeo stranded the DH by retiring the next three men in order to maintain a draw.
Each team scored in the eighth. A two-out error by Felix Sanchez allowed Geulin Beltre to score from first when Sanchez dropped a routine fly off the bat of Murray Watts for a brief 5-4 lead. That evaporated in the bottom half of the frame on Shannon Wilkerson's opposite-way single as Xander Bogaerts crossed for a 5-5 deadlock.
While the Blue Rocks began the ninth and 10th with base hits, they would not score again thanks to reliever Mike Gleason (1-1). He stranded men at third in both frames en route to 3.1 innings of scoreless relief. Robinson Yambati struck out six over his three innings to give his club a chance before Cruz got the ball in the 11th.
The young lefty sandwiched a pair of outs around Meneses' triple to right, but followed that with walks of Brandon Jacobs, Bogaerts and Coyle to end the game.
The series concludes at 4:05 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Wilmington right-hander Andy Ferguson (1-2, 4.68) faces fellow righty Keith Couch (8-8, 3.68) as the Rocks try to avoid a three-game sweep. Broadcast coverage begins at 3:35 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:
Geulin Beltre extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 games with his 2-for-4 night including a triple. His efforts have lifted his average to .236 on the year, his best contact clip since going 1-for-4 in his 2012 debut on April 6.
Beltre also recorded his 17th outfield assist of the season when he nabbed Brandon Jacobs attempting to leg out a double to close the seventh.
The Blue Rocks went 2-for-16 with men in scoring position on the night. During their four losses on this road trip, they have hit just .078 (4-for-51) with men at second and/or third.
Salem went just 5-for-21 with men at second and/or third in the game.
The Blue Rocks put their leadoff man on in the first, fifth, sixth, ninth and 10th innings. Not once did that runner come home.
Xander Bogaerts received his first intentional walk of the season in the ninth. It came with good reason. He went 4-for-4 on the night with two walks and is 7-for-8 on the series with four doubles to lift his average to .301.
It marked the Blue Rocks' third walk-off loss of the season and first since the opener of a June 23 doubleheader at Carolina.
In 10 appearances with Wilmington, Antonio Cruz has walked 13 men over 12 innings while striking out just six.
Sean Coyle, whose seventh-inning two-out homer on Friday snapped a 5-5 draw in what proved to be a 7-5 Salem win, attended Germantown Academy in Fort Washington, PA, just a 43-mile drive north of the Blue Rocks' Frawley Stadium.
Wilmington manager Vance Wilson was ejected in the ninth inning by base umpire Rich Gonzalez after arguing a safe call at third base.