Extra, Extra, Blue Rocks Win

Lopez, McCray Provide Late-Game Heroics

Nicky Lopez tied the game with a two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning at Potomac Sunday afternoon. (Brad Glazier)

By Cory Nidoh / Wilmington Blue Rocks | April 16, 2017 5:28 PM ET

Wilmington, DE-  The Wilmington Blue Rocks (5-5) erased a late, three-run deficit and went on to stun the Potomac Nationals (5-5) 5-4 in 11 innings to earn their first series win of the season. Nicky Lopez highlighted a three-run seventh inning and tied the game with a two-out, two run single. Jonathan McCray doubled home the go-ahead run in the final inning to push the Rocks past the P-Nats.

As the rallying Rocks have done so many times in this young season, they erased another deficit. Trailing by three in the seventh inning, Lopez delivered with a clutch, two-out, two-run single to plate Wander Franco and Roman Collins to tie the game at 4-4.   In the eleventh, Collins singled to represent the go-ahead run. With one out and a pair of runners on, McCray doubled down the right field line to score Collins to give the Rocks the eventual 5-4 thrilling win. 

Both offenses put a single tally on the board in the first two innings. Potomac opened the scoring with a Kelvin Gutierrez sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. Wilmington answered in the top of the second inning when Anderson Miller clubbed his first homer of the season to tie the game. Potomac pushed across a run in the fourth inning on Bryan Mejia's RBI single to give Potomac a 2-1 lead. The P-Nats added a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth when Dale Carey laced a two-run triple to pad the P-Nats lead 4-1.

Andres Machado entered in the middle of the 11th inning, left the bases loaded and induced a groundout off the bat of Dale Carey to end the ballgame. Machado earned his second save of the season. Jared Ruxer (1-1) picked up his first win of the year and tossed 2 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball and struck out four. ­P-Nats Whit Mayberry (0-1) suffered the loss as he allowed the RBI double to McCray.

The Blue Rocks travel to Salem on Monday, April 17 to begin their backend of their week-long road trip at Hayley Toyota Field. LHP Foster Griffin (1-0, 0.82 ERA) starts for the Blue Rocks while Salem counters with LHP Matthew Kent (0-0, 7.45 ERA). Fans can listen to the game as Matt Janus will have the call on 89.7 WGLS-FM.

Pebbles of Knowledge

Wilmington's bullpen continues to be the best bullpens in the Carolina League. Between the arms of Jacob Bodner, Ruxer and Machado, they did not allow a run and scattered four hits while striking out seven batters. Machado now leads the team with his pair of saves. The bullpen's ERA is now at an impressive 1.61 ERA and has allowed just eight earned runs in 44 2/3 innings of work.

The Blue Rocks have played in three extra-inning games this season, which are the most of any Carolina League team this year. The win marks their first victory in extra-inning affairs. Their longest game in terms of innings played was back on April 8 when they lost in 12 innings to Potomac at Frawley Stadium.

With two hits in the win, Collins has extended his hitting streak to eight games and has reached base in every game this season. The hitting streak is currently tied for the longest by a Blue Rock this year. Franco had his eight-game hitting streak snapped in the third game of the series when he went 0-for-4. Collins has also driven in a run in three of his last four games.

With the win, it marked the first series win for the Blue Rocks and first three-game winning streak. Wilmington dropped the first two series of the year to Potomac and Carolina. In their last three victories, Wilmington has outscored their opponents 15-10 despite being outhit 27-23. 

THEY SAID IT: Jamie Quirk

"They keep battling. To me, the key is that has been kind of forgotten here, is what kills you is when you're trying to catch up and our bullpen gives up that one extra run you never quite get there. However, our bullpen has been phenomenal. They keep throwing zeroes, our offense has a chance to catchup. They threw six zeroes in today's game and that was the kind of thing last year where we gave up the one extra run and we couldn't catch up. This year, the bullpen isn't doing that and it's giving the offense a chance to catch up."

"I learned a lot about (Jacob) Bodner (in jam in the eighth inning) and being a veteran in the league and I wanted to stay with him right there. He got a big strikeout and allowed us to walk Mejia to get to the right hander. If he walks Augustin, he has to pitch to Mejia and he's tough. He's a bad ball hitter, you can try to get him swing a balls and we had bases loaded so it makes it tough. He got the strikeout and we got the match up we wanted."

"Big hit by McCray, he hit that ball hard. He doesn't get a chance to play all the time but he did a nice job. We talked about putting the ball in play. Nicky's (Lopez) ball that got through for two RBI. It wasn't hit all that hard but he put the ball in play and he forced the defense to make a play. Last night we had the sacrifice flies but hits like that are big, it forces the defense to make a play."

"It feels really good. These guys owned us last year and they took two out of three at our place to start the season, but now we turned around and took three of four at their place so it's big."

25 Years of Blue Rocks Baseball

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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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