In the ninth inning, the Rocks got the only run they needed. Against tough Lynchburg closer Juan Jaime, Cheslor Cuthbert opened the inning with a sinking liner to left center to get aboard. A wild pitch followed during the at bat to Nick Van Stratten, as Cuthbert moved into second base. Van Stratten then bounced a chopper to short that was high enough to move Cuthbert to third base, as Nick Ahmed threw out Van Stratten. An intentional walk followed to Geulin Beltre. Angel Franco was then called upon to pinch hit for Juan Graterol. Beltre took second on defensive indifference amidst an intentional pass to Franco. With the bases loaded, Luis Piterson poked the ball to Emerson Landoni at second with the infield drawn in. Landoni fired home for a solo out.
With the bases loaded and two out, Orlando Calixte stood in against Juan Jaime. He worked the count to 2-2 when he took a pitch right around knee height. It was deemed a ball, setting off anger and barking from the Hillcats in the dugout and on the field. With the count full, Calixte fouled off several pitches. Electing to continue with the fastball, Jaime threw one Calixte could handle as he dumped it into left field just out of a diving try of Dan Brewer. Beltre crossed home and the Blue Rocks streamed out of the dugout to mob Calixte as the group party drifted towards the shortstop area.
The best chances Lynchburg had came in the sixth and seventh innings. Both times, they were denied by center fielder Brett Eibner.
Facing Wilmington starter Brooks Pounders in the sixth, Landoni got aboard with a single. He moved to second on a sacrifice by Chad Comer. Mycal Jones stood in and lofted a flyball to center field. Eibner tracked it down in medium center and got a running start as he made the catch. With Landoni trekking for third, Eibner fired a one hopper that Cuthbert fielded cleanly, tagging Landoni on the home plate side of the bag to end the inning.
In the seventh, Ahmed led off with a single against Pounders. He reached third after a wild pickoff throw from the righty. Pounders rebounded to strikeout Brewer. Then Chris Garcia lifted a ball into shallow center field. Eibner made the catch as Ahmed tagged for home. The throw came home in plenty of time as Graterol applied the tag to extinguish the threat.
Pounders tossed his second start of seven innings in as many nods. He yielded three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Chase Boruff worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Robinson Yambati came on for a scoreless ninth, as he earned his second victory in three days.
Dimasther Delgado was great for Lynchburg. He logged six scoreless innings, surrendering four hits and a walk to go along with four strikeouts. Juan Jaime took the loss, his third, as he allowed that lone tally on three hits and three walks in 2.2 innings.
The Rocks finish this four-game series with the Hillcats on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. Wilmington will throw RHP Leondy Perez (3-4, 4.02) while Lynchburg goes with RHP Gus Schlosser (13-5, 3.07). Broadcast coverage begins at 1:05 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 8-4 win at home to Winston-Salem, the Blue Rocks hold a 3.0 game lead on the defending CL champion Keys with 16 games left. They have now won eight of their last nine contests and 10 of 13. 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 12 of its last 16 games against its brothers from the North. The Rocks own a 30-18 (.625) mark in intradivisional competition.
The Blue Rocks have set a new high watermark on Saturday, going four games over .500 for the second half at 29-25. They last time they had been four games over was back on June 25, 2011 when they lost to the Lynchburg Hillcats 6-0, dropping them to 38-34 overall.
Andy Ferguson allowed one run over 6.2 innings in a team win at Salem on August 5. It was the first of the team's nine quality starts over its last 12 games. That includes seven shutout innings from Brooks Pounders last night. One of the exceptions in the 11-game string was a five-inning, no-run performance by Elisaul Pimentel in a 2-1 defeat of Winston-Salem on August 7. The Blue Rocks have won every game this month in which they have received a quality start.
Pounders went seven innings for the second straight start, matching his career best. He has allowed seven hits and one walk with 12 strikeouts over his last two outings. Only one unearned run has crossed against him in this time.
The win was their sixth of the year in walkoff fashion. They did it two days earlier when the tenth-inning presented itself with bases loaded and two outs, like Saturday night. Jose Bonilla drew a walk for the win. They won a contest at Frawley in the ninth inning or later for the third time in 12 days.
It was also the team's ninth shutout of the season and their second one in three days. They are tied for fourth in the league with those nine blankings.
The 1-0 game was the league-leading 44th one-run contest played by the Wilmington Blue Rocks. They are dead even in single-score affairs, with 22 up and 22 down. This was the 10th one-run contest with the Hillcats, with the Rocks winning five of the 10, including the last three. It was also the fourth 1-0 decision between the clubs. This was the first time the Rocks were on the winning side of a 1-0 contest when the two squads meet.
The Rocks have matched their season-best five game winning streak at home. Prior to these three straight wins, they swept the Salem Red Sox from August 10-12. They previously won five consecutive contests on the Riverfront from May 20 through June 2. That included a win against Myrtle Beach, three against Potomac and two against Frederick.