The big second inning started with a single by Cheslor Cuthbert to right field. Nick Van Stratten was plunked by a pitch from Lynchburg starter Aaron Northcraft. Geulin Beltre dropped a sacrifice right in front of home plate. Northcraft fielded and had a play at third but threw it away, scoring Cuthbert for a 1-0 lead. Jose Bonilla recorded a baseknock and made it 2-0. A poke from Angel Franco followed for a 3-0 edge. Orlando Calixte blasted a sharp hopper to third off the chest of Edward Salcedo that scored Bonilla for a 4-0 edge. Brett Eibner laced a single to left field that sent Franco home for a five run advantage.
With one out, Matt Fields got aboard with a walk to load the bags. Cuthbert rolled a single in front of home plate to bring home the game's sixth run. With that, Northcraft was yanked from the game for Blaine Sims. Van Stratten proceeded to double down the left field line to bring home a pair for an 8-0 lead. A sacrifice fly from Beltre boosted the edge to nine.
Matt Ridings only had to lock in the cruise control after that. He tied a season-best with seven innings worked, allowing an unearned run on three hits and a walk while chalking up seven whiffs. Edwin Carl finished the game with two scoreless frames, surrendering just a walk.
The Rocks continue this four-game series with the Hillcats on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. Wilmington will go with RHP Brooks Pounders (5-4, 4.83) while the Hillcats have chosen LHP Dimasther Delgado (6-6, 4.35). 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:
With tonight's win and Frederick's 5-1 loss at home to Winston-Salem, the Blue Rocks stand 3.0 game ahead of the defending CL champion Keys with 17 games left. They have now won seven of their last eight contests and nine of 12. The Blue Crew has owned at least a share of first place on every day but one since the start of this spurt. Wilmington, Frederick and Potomac are all within 5.5 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.
Wilmington concludes its regular-season schedule with 13 of its last 17 games against its brothers from the North. The Rocks own a 29-18 (.617) mark in intradivisional competition.
The Blue Rocks have set a new high watermark on Friday, going three games over .500 for the second half at 28-25. They had previously been two games over .500 a pair of times.
Matt Ridings went seven innings of one-run ball on Friday. He bookends a team streak of eight quality starts over its last 12 games. One of the exceptions was a five-inning, no-run performance by Elisaul Pimentel in a 2-1 defeat of Winston-Salem on August 7. The Rocks have won every game this month in which they have received a quality start.
Ridings matched career-bests on Friday. His back-to-back seven inning starts are the longest of his career. His seven strikeouts matches a total he pulled off twice with Rookie-Burlington last year, with the most recent one coming on August 4, 2011 against Pulaski.
The Blue Rocks have guaranteed themselves at least a .500 mark at home against the Lynchburg Hillcats with their fifth victory head-to-head in tilts at Frawley this season. The Rocks have not had a losing record or less than five wins against the Hillcats on the Riverfront since 2006, when they went 4-5.
The Blue Rocks hung a 10-spot on the Hillcats in the second inning. It is the first 10-run inning in a game since the Salem Red Sox did it to the Blue Rocks on May 5, 2010 at Frawley Stadium. That output also came in the second inning. The most runs the Rocks have ever put up in a game was 11-run frame on the road against the Durham Bulls on May 1, 1994 in a 17-6 victory. The Rocks have felt that 11-run pain themselves. In Game 2 of the Division Series at Pfitzner Stadium against the Potomac Nationals on September 9, 2004, the Rocks allowed 11 runs in a frame. They fell 14-6 in that ballgame. They went on to win Game 3 in Potomac before blowing a 2-0 series lead to the Kinston Indians in the best-of-five championship series for the Mills Cup.