Woodbridge, VA - The Wilmington Blue Rocks (19-21) used an all-around effort to defeat the Potomac Nationals (19-20) by the score of 5-2 Wednesday night at Pfitzner Stadium. Six different Blue Rocks collected a hit and the unit tied a team record as they clubbed seven doubles in the game. D.J. Burt led the way with three hits and Chris DeVito smacked his first home run as a Blue Rock. RHP A.J. Puckett twirled 6 1/3 innings and allowed just two runs in the victory.
A night after a 10-0 thumping, the Blue Rocks quickly put that behind them and jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in their first look at LHP Matthew Crownover (3-1). With two outs and a man on, DeVito cranked his first Class-A Advanced home run to give the Blue Crew an early 2-0 lead. In the bottom half of the inning, Potomac cut the deficit in half with an Ian Sagdal solo blast to make it a 2-1 ballgame.
Both pitchers exchanged scoreless innings through the next three stanzas until Wilmington tacked on a run in the fifth inning. After Cody Jones led the frame off with a double and Jecksson Flores reached on a bunt single to put runners at the corners, Nicky Lopez brought home Jones on a fielder's choice to pad the Rocks lead 3-1. In the sixth inning, Potomac got back within a run on a Victor Robles RBI groundout to make it 3-2.
In the seventh inning, it was the top of the Blue Rocks order providing a key insurance run. After Lopez reached on an infield single to extend the inning, Burt ripped a double to left field to score Lopez and extended the Rocks lead 4-2. In the ninth inning, it was Burt again who stroked his second double of the game to plate Jones giving Wilmington a 5-2 lead they would go on to win by.
Puckett earned the victory and tossed 6 1/3 innings and allowed just two earned runs on three hits and struck out four. RHP Gabe Cramer took care of the final two-plus innings of work and whiffed four batters to earn his team-leading third save of the year.
Wilmington looks to take the series Thursday, May 18 with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Pfitzner Stadium. LHP Cristian Castillo (2-2, 3.20 ERA) climbs the hill for Wilmington while Potomac counters with LHP Hector Silvestre (3-1, 3.83 ERA). Fans can listen to the game as Matt Janus will have the call on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
Pebbles of Knowledge:
Nicky Lopez quietly has an 18-game on-base streak which is the second-longest by any Blue Rock this season, behind Anderson Miller's 30-gamer. In his career, Lopez also has a 30-game on-base streak which he opened up the season with from June 23 to July 26. During his current on-base streak, the shortstop is hitting a robust .342 and also has a modest nine-game hitting streak within the on-base streak after a two hit night at the plate in Wednesday night's win.
The Rocks tied a single-game team record with seven doubles in the game. Four different Wilmington hitters swatted two baggers while D.J. Burt, Chase Vallot and Cody Jones each collected two in the win. Burt and Vallot pace the offensive squad in the category, each having nine to their ledger. The last time the Rocks clubbed seven doubles in a single game was back on August 30, 2016 when they did it against the Carolina Mudcats. It marks the sixth time Wilmington has accomplished the feat in team history.
DeVito hit his first homer of the year as a member of the Blue Rocks. He currently is tied for first with Potomac's catcher Taylor Gushue for most long balls in all of Minor League Baseball. DeVito is no stranger to leaving the yard this year. Prior to his promotion, the slugging first baseman led the South Atlantic League with 11 home runs in just 30 games with Low-A Lexington. In 97 games played through his first year and a half in the organization, DeVito has hit 21 homers.
They Said It: Jamie Quirk
"The (DeVito) home run was huge. (Matthew) Crownover is a very good pitcher and he's having a good year. I was worried about scoring on him and the home run was huge to get us on the board. (D.J.) Burt had a nice game, (Cody) Jones is starting to swing the bat really well and he had a big hit. (Jecksson) Flores moved a guy over when we needed to and Chase (Vallot) is starting to swing the bat really well which will help a lot. It wasn't huge (offensive production in terms of runs), but it was good timing."
"(D.J.) Burt hits a lot of balls to right field. He also has good speed so outfielders have to go left to right he is going for two and that helps a lot. He's starting to not hit the ball in the air, more so line drives and ground balls. He had a double down the line to left, a double to right field and he is using the whole field which he needs to do and he's starting to do it. Hitting coach (Abraham) Nunez had him out early today working on things and it's starting to show. Hopefully he can get on a little streak."
"(A.J.) Puckett was aggressive staying around the plate and missed the barrels. He was going after (Potomac) and got a lot of ground balls. He has a little tail to his pitches and left-handers were missing it or getting it on the end of the bat. He was really good tonight."
"(Gabe) Cramer is (asserting himself as a backend arm out of the bullpen). He was well rested and did not pitch in five days which wasn't planned, just how the games have played out. When he's been pitching, he's going two or three innings so he needs time off afterwards. He's on a nice roll, a nice fastball, good little breaking ball and threw a nice change up to their catcher (Taylor) Gushue. Cramer has been very good."
"It's huge (on Cramer's ability to strikeout multiple batters and pitch multiple innings). He's putting his name on the map. He was scheduled to be here, but was injured in Spring Training. He got healthy and when you can throw multiple innings with a power arm you're not only going to get looked at by us, but also everybody else."
Chase Vallot, Catcher
"You just have to show up to the ballpark ready to play (on putting tough loss on Tuesday behind). The past is the past; it's like reading a book. You turn the page and look forward to the future."
"We deal with whatever is thrown at us. (On the young team able to handle adversity well.) We go out and have fun and compete. I love going out on the field with these guys and it is fun. You win some and lose some, but it's always fun when you win. We have to just show up with that mentality that no one is better than us."
"Trying to simplify things at the plate and not be too aggressive (on approach at the plate recently). I want to be aggressive in the zone and when I go up there, it's see ball hit ball. Stay through the ball and stay through the middle. With two strikes if I put the ball in play I'm happy."
"It has. (On the turnaround aided by hitting the ball the other way). That's something I never really did up until this year. I need to start doing that, but I'm staying through the ball more. (Abraham) Nunez has something new for me every day and I'm ready to learn and take it day by day."
"He (Nunez) kind of understands where we are. He was a player for a long time. He has been in those similar situations so he tries to make things fun for us and simplify it. Baseball is a complicated game as it is. We hit colored balls. He took a sharpie and colored the inside part of the ball and we worked on hitting the inside of the baseball. It sounds elementary, but it works."
"It's huge. (Getting series win and getting closer to .500 Thursday). Every win is huge, but none of the guys in the clubhouse really talk about what place we're in. We just go out, show out and compete. Let God control and go out and compete. I would love to clinch the first-half and play in the playoffs. I never played in the playoffs before and I know a bunch of these guys never have. It's one of the goals on the team and to go out and have fun.
"(A.J.) Puckett was outstanding and Gabe (Cramer) also was outstanding. Puckett has been struggling his last few outings and it was probably one of his better outings of the year. His fastball was working, his curveball was working, everything was working. It was fun to catch tonight, it made my job much easier. Gabe (Cramer) shut the door, simple as that. He came out throwing strikes, challenging hitters and made my job really easy."
25 Years of Blue Rocks Baseball
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