The Blue Rocks got their first run from an unlikely guy. For the second time in the game, they got the first two guys on to start a frame. Matt Fields started the fourth inning with a walk against Lynchburg starter Michael Lee. Cheslor Cuthbert punched a single into center field to move Fields up a station. After strikeouts from Murray Watts and Geulin Beltre, Jose Bonilla floated a single into right center field, scoring Fields for a 1-0 Rocks lead.
The Hillcats knotted the game in the sixth on a solo blast to deep left center field from the bat of Emerson Landoni against Rocks starter Andy Ferguson.
The game remained scoreless into the tenth inning. With Ian Marshall on the mound, Fields worked a one-out walk. He was lifted for Nick Van Stratten to pinch run. Cuthbert looped a single into right field that took a while for David Rohm to retrieve, as the entire outfield was playing deep. Van Stratten scooted to third base. Lynchburg elected to intentionally walk Watts. With the bases loaded, Beltre grounded a ball to short, right at a drawn-in Landoni. Landoni came home to cut down Van Stratten. With two outs and the bases loaded, it was all up to Bonilla. He worked to a full count. Marshall dealt it fairly outside to walk in the game-winning runner Cuthbert.
Ferguson tossed six innings of one-run ball. He allowed three hits and two walks, racking up a career-high nine strikeouts. Nick Rogers came on and posted three innings of shutout baseball. He surrendered one hit, one walk and he also logged a career-high five strikeouts. Robinson Yambati was credited with his first victory when he pitched a scoreless tenth, recording a strikeout.
The Rocks continue this four-game series with the Hillcats on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Wilmington has tabbed RHP Matt Ridings (5-1, 2.63) while the Hillcats have selected RHP Aaron Northcraft (8-10, 3.74). 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:
With today's win and Frederick's 12-5 loss at home to Winston-Salem, the Blue Rocks stand 2.0 game ahead of the defending CL champion Keys. They have now won six of their last seven contests and eight of 11. Wilmington, Frederick and Potomac are all within 4.5 games of each other for the division's second-half playoff spot. The four-time Carolina League champion Blue Rocks are attempting to make their first playoff appearance since pacing the loop with 84 wins in 2009.
After a 15-game stretch against Southern Division squads, Wilmington concludes its regular-season schedule with 14 of their last 18 games against their brothers from the North. They own a 28-18 (.609) mark in intradivisional competition.
Both Andy Ferguson and Nick Rogers reached career-highs in strikeouts on Thursday. His nine punch outs bested the eight he recorded twice with the Blue Rocks, with the most recent taking place on July 31 at Winston-Salem. Rogers peaked at five. With the AZL Royals, Rogers sat down four AZL Mariner hitters on August 18, 2010.
The Blue Rocks reached their high watermark on Thursday, going two games over .500 for the second half at 27-25. They were at two over one other time this season and that happened on July 27 when they were 18-16 after a win against Carolina.
The Rocks had their fifth walkoff win of the season on Thursday. They have five for the season, with their last coming on August 7 versus Winston-Salem.
Wilmington picked up their fourth extra-inning victory on the season, good enough for fourth in the Carolina League. Lynchburg lost its ninth bonus baseball contest. They own the most losses in that category and worst winning percentage in that circumstance.
The Rocks hit a season-best in team strikeouts with 15. Ferguson fanned nine, Rogers punched out five and Robinson Yambati sat down one. The previous best was 14, done twice with the last one coming on May 22 against Potomac. In that game, Yordano Ventura picked up nine strikeouts, Chase Boruff added a pair and Rogers had a trio.
Geulin Beltre picked up his 20th outfield assist in the ninth inning when he threw out Edward Salcedo in trying to stretch a single into a double. He is one of only two men in the Carolina League with 20+ outfield assists.
The Blue Rocks have now played in 43 one-run games, a Carolina League high. They are 21-22 in those games, including five straight ones in single-tally contests. Of those 43, nine have come against Lynchburg. They are 4-5 in those head-to-head games decided by one score.