Salem, VA- For the second straight night, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (5-8) held a lead in the ninth and watched it disappear as the Salem Red Sox (9-5) walked-off the Blue Crew in the bottom of the ninth inning for a 7-6 win at Hayley Toyota Field Wednesday night. Salem's Michael Chavis clubbed his third home run of the game, which proved to be the game-winner, in the final stanza. Wilmington also flexed its muscle and had homers from Chase Vallot and Roman Collins. It was the third straight loss for the Rocks.
Holding to a 6-4 lead in the ninth, Wilmington's reliever Andres Machado went out for his fourth inning of work. Denier Lopez led the inning off with a solo blast to make it a 6-5 ballgame. Later in the inning, with one out and a runner on, Chavis launched his third home run of the contest over the centerfield wall to give the Red Sox the stunning 7-6 victory.
The Red Sox took an early 3-0 lead through the first three innings of the contest. Jhon Nunez drove in the game's first run with an RBI single in the second inning. Chavis clubbed a two-run homer in the third inning to jump out to the early advantage. In the top of the fourth inning, the Rocks cut the deficit to one run. Anderson Miller started the scoring for the Blue Crew with an RBI groundout to make it 3-1. The following at-bat, Vallot swatted his first-career, Class-A Advanced home run to pull the Rocks within a run, 3-2.
In the fifth inning, Collins singled and Travis Maezes walked before Tanner Stanley gave Wilmington the first lead of the game with a two-run double to plate both of the runners to give the Blue Rocks a 4-3 advantage. In the bottom half of the frame, Chavis smashed his second homer of the game and knotted the game up at 4-4.
Collins gave the Rocks some breathing room in the top of the eighth with his second homer of the year, a two-run variety, that gave Wilmington a 6-4 lead heading down the stretch.
Both teams combined for 26 hits, including six home runs. Seven different Blue Rocks recorded a hit with five of them putting together multi-hit efforts at the plate. Elier Hernandez paced the offense with three hits.
Wilmington returns to Frawley Stadium for a quick, four-game homestand against the Winston-Salem Dash starting on Thursday, April 20. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. and the Blue Rocks will call upon RHP A.J. Puckett (1-1, 2.70 ERA) while the Dash answer with RHP Aron McRee (0-1, 11.81 ERA). Fans can listen to the game as Matt Janus and Cory Nidoh will have the call on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
Pebbles of Knowledge
With the home run, Collins extended his on-base streak to 13 games after going 2-for-4 with a home run and drove in a pair of runs in Wednesday's loss. D.J. Burt also extended his on-base streak to 13 games Wednesday when he picked up a pair of hits and a walk. Collins (14 hits/5 walks) has elongated his on-base streaks with hits more so then walks. Burt on the other hand, has used a keen eye to quietly extend his streak (9 hits/12 walks). Burt is no stranger to on-base streaks. In 2015, he had a 68-game on-base streak that spanned the 2015 campaign, postseason and eight games into 2016. Nicky Lopez had his 12-game on-base streak come to an end after going hitless in five trips to the plate.
With the home run, Collins became the first Blue Rock to hit multiple home runs this season. Last season, Collins smacked nine home runs between Low-A Lexington and Wilmington. That season, it took him 59 games to club a pair of homers. Along with Collins, Vallot cranked his first-career Advanced-A long ball and first since September, 3, 2016 when he was a member of the Low-A Lexington Legends. Last year, he hit 13 home runs which was second behind teammate, Travis Maezes.
After a tough game on Tuesday night where he left seven men on base, Elier Hernandez had a nice bounce-back game in Wednesday's loss. With his three hits in the contest, Hernandez wrapped up a very solid road trip. Over the week-long getaway from Frawely Stadium, the center fielder hit .321 (9-for-28) with a double, home run and six RBI.
With the walk-off loss on Wednesday night, it marks the second straight game the Rocks had the game slip away in the final at-bats. The Rocks have now played in nine one-run games through their first 13 games. For Wilmington, luck has not been on their side as they have lost six of their last night single-run affairs.
It was the first road trip of the year for the Blue Rocks and there were certainly positives and negatives to take from the trek. The Blue Crew went 3-4 over the week with five of the seven games decided by a single tally. Two of which, were in walk-off fashion in the final two games of the trip. During the stretch, Wilmington set a season-high three-game winning streak and also tied a season-long three-game losing streak. The Rocks were outscored 39-32 in the seven games while the pitching staff yielded a 5.23 ERA.
25 Years of Blue Rocks Baseball
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