Wilmington, DE-Held to just two hits in the first game of a doubleheader, the Wilmington Blue Rocks were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday night at Frawley Stadium. Shutout 3-0 by the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Rocks returned the favor in the nightcap however, scoring a 1-0 victory over the Birds. With the split of the twinbill, Vance Wilson's club moves to 61-76 and 28-39 in the second-half Northern Division standings. Meanwhile, the game one setback hands Lynchburg the final CL North playoff spot.
A doubleheader where pitching reigned supreme, starters J.C. Sulbaran (1-3) and Chi Chi Gonzalez combined to allowed only four hits over the first four innings in the front-end of the twinbill. However, Myrtle Beach cracked the scoreboard in the fifth. Following a one-out single by Odubel Herrera, Sulbaran was pulled in favor of Kellen Moen. He would walk Jake Skole, before allowing a triple to Drew Robinson to make it 2-0 Myrtle Beach. The next better Trever Adams then dumped a single into shallow left to complete the Pelicans scoring.
On for the save, Tyler Smith worked a scoreless seventh to complete the game one victory, but Wilmington would bounce back in the nightcap. Turning to Sam Selman (11-9) the lefty struck out seven over his first four frames, before getting a lift from his offense in the home-half of the stanza. With one out, Yem Prades doubled down the third base line and scored on a second two-bagger by Micah Gibbs.
Entering with a 1-0 lead, Malcom Culver would load the bases in the top of the seventh but escaped trouble. Working around singles by Adams, Herrera and Royce Bolinger, the righty got Joe Maloney to pop out to the catcher, before striking out Preston Beck and Jake Skole to end the game.
Wilmington will have an off-day on Friday before beginning its final series of the year with Winston-Salem on Saturday night. Lefty Tripp Davis (0-1, 3.86) takes the mound for the Blue Rocks and will be opposed by righty Jake Cose (7-4, 3.79). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 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.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
Sam Selman was outstanding in his final start with the Blue Rocks in 2013. Over five shutout innings, the lefty allowed only two hits, walked two and struck out eight, while he picked up his 11th victory of the season. The pulls him into a four-way tie for the Carolina League lead along with Winston-Salem's Bryan Blough and Chris Beck as well as Potomac's Blake Schwartz. Ending the year in style, Selman did not allow any runs over his final 13 innings pitched with the Blue Rocks. In the process, it cut his ERA from 3.77 to 3.38, the second-lowest it has been all season. Taking the ball in the first game of the twinbill, J.C. Sulbaran suffered his third loss, but pitched well over 5.1 innings. During that time, he allowed only one run on three hits while he walked three and struck out three. It was longest outing since August 13, when he tossed six innings in the Rocks 18-inning victory over Salem.
Ethan Chapman saw both his 16-game on-base streak and his eight-game hitting streak come to an end in game one of Thursday's doubleheader. Finishing the contest 0-for-3, it marked the first time since August 11 that Chapman had failed to reach base, while he finished hitless for the first time since August 18. Over the eight-game hitting streak, the California native hit .333 (10-for-33) with two doubles, an RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. That effort helped raise his batting average from .240-.254. A player who has hit his stride in the season's penultimate month, Chapman is hitting .290 over 28 games in August after batting just .213 in July and .222 in June.
On Thursday night, the Blue Rocks split a pair of shutouts. Falling in the front-end of a doubleheader to Myrtle Beach, it marked the 13th time the Blue Rocks had been blanked in a game this season. That mark is the worst in the CL, while Wilmington has been shutout three more times than its next closest foe. However turnabout proved to be fair play, as the Rocks scored their sixth shutout in the nightcap, and their second in the last week. Ironically, the last time the Rocks held an opponent off the scoreboard Sam Selman was the starting pitcher. In that contest at Potomac, the Texas native tossed eight no-hit innings and racked up 11 strikeouts. The win over Myrtle Beach also allowed the Blue Crew to close its season series with the Pelicans on a high note. This season, Wilmington went 9-11 against the Birds, going 5-5 in games played at Frawley Stadium and 4-6 in contests on the Grand Strand. With only three games left in the season, Vance Wilson's club has now completed six season-series, winning three (Frederick, Lynchburg and Carolina) and losing three (Myrtle Beach, Potomac and Salem).
Louis Coleman made his first relief appearance in a Wilmington uniform in nearly four years on Thursday night. Transferred to Wilmington from the Kansas City Royals earlier in the day, the righty tossed one scoreless inning and struck out one in the first game of the doubleheader. Prior to joining the Blue Rocks, the righty went 2-0 and posted a 0.39 ERA in 20 games with the Royals. Originally a fifth round pick by Kansas City out of LSU, Coleman went 3-1 and tallied a 1.26 ERA over 10 games with Wilmington in 2009.
In both games of the doubleheader, the Blue Rocks offense was stagnant. Over 13 combined innings, Wilmington scored only one run and posted only six hits. In the front end of the twinbill, the Rocks mustered only a pair of base hits, tied for the second-fewest the team had recorded in a game this season. The Blue Crew were also held to only two hits on May 8 against Potomac. A remarkably different team when breaking the five-hit barrier, Wilmington is just 6-25 in games where it records five or fewer knocks.
Blue Rocks Baseball = AffordaFUNability!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.