Wilmington, DE-Leonel Santiago (4-3) turned in another gem on the mound, as the Wilmington Blue Rocks shutout the Winston-Salem Dash 1-0 on Sunday afternoon at Frawley Stadium. The triumph ended a string of four winless starts for Santiago, while it gave Wilmington its 15th series win of the year. With the victory, the Blue Crew improved to 63-76 on the season and 30-39 in the second-half Northern Division standings. Additionally, it kept the team's hopes of finishing .500 at home alive. In 2013, Wilmington is 34-35 in games played on the Riverfront.
Santiago set a nice pace from the start. After facing the minimum in the first inning, he allowed only one man to reach in the second, before retiring 10 in a row. That string was broken up in the fifth inning on a one-out walk to Josh Richmond, but Santiago would not allow a man to get past first base the rest of the way, as he exited after six strong innings.
Looking for a league-best 12th win, Bryan Blough (11-11) matched his counterpart, but was hurt by his defense in the home-third. Yowill Espinal opened the frame with a single to left, and moved to second on an error by Richmond, after the Dash outfielder was unable to field the ball cleanly. Espinal then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Ethan Chapman, before scoring on an RBI single by Yem Prades. That would be the only run allowed by Blough, who worked into the seventh inning or later for the fourth time in five starts.
With the Rocks leading 1-0, Daniel Hernandez worked around a pair of two-out singles in the seventh inning, and runner in scoring position in the eighth, while Andrew Edwards faced one over the minimum in the ninth to pick up his first save.
Wilmington closes out its season on Monday afternoon against Winston-Salem. Righty Angel Baez (3-1, 3.94) takes the mound for the Blue Rocks. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. and the broadcast can be heard on 89.7 WGLS-FM. For ticket information, fans can call 302-888-BLUE or by visit BlueRocks.com.
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Leonel Santiago closed out his 2013 campaign strong, as the righty picked up his fourth victory with the Blue Rocks. Tossing six scoreless frames, the native of the Dominican Republic allowed only three hits and issued only one walk. He also added three strikeouts. The victory was his first since August 6, when he tossed a five-inning shutout at Salem. One of Wilmington's most consistent arms during the home stretch, Santiago posted three consecutive quality starts to finish the year, and allowed only three runs over his final 20 innings pitched. As a result, he closed out the season with a 3.78 ERA, the lowest it had been with Wilmington all season.
Offense came at a premium on Sunday, but Yem Prades had a solid day at the plate. Finishing 2-for-3 with a stolen base, the 25-year-old also drove in the game's only run. It was his 21st RBI in 38 games, and helped pull Prades out of a mini 1-for-13 slump at the plate. A player who joined Wilmington in mid-July from Double-A Northwest Arkansas, the Rocks outfielder has recorded two hits or more in 14 games, and has hit .275 or better in parts of three months with the club. In addition to Prades, Yowill Espinal racked up his first multi-hit effort since mid-August, going 2-for-3 with a run scored. That ended a string of 11 hitless at-bats for the veteran minor leaguer. A player who has recorded hits in bunches, seven of Espinal's 11 knocks have come over three games.
After struggling against Winston-Salem for most of the season, the Blue Rocks rattled off their third straight victory against the Dash on Sunday. That handed Wilmington its first series win over Winston-Salem in 2013, after the Dash had taken each of the five prior sets. Sunday's win was also the Rocks' seventh shutout victory of the season, and marks the second time in three games that the Blue Crew have blanked an opponent. Dating back to Saturday night, Rocks pitchers have tossed 16 scoreless innings in a row, while Steve Luebber's staff has a chance to hit their high-water mark on Labor Day. This season, the longest stretch of scoreless baseball worked by Wilmington pitchers is 20.2 frames (set between May 2-4).
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