Rocks Start Road Trip With Loss

Wilmington Has Dropped Eight of Last Nine Away From Frawley Stadium

Blue Rocks' outfielder Nick Heath earned his first-career four-hit game Tuesday night against Down East. (Brad Glazier)

By Wilmington Blue Rocks | August 9, 2017 12:23 AM ET

Kinston, NC - Wilmington Blue Rocks' (60-54/21-23) pitcher Cristian Castillo failed to make it through the fifth inning and the Down East Wood Ducks (46-68/22-23) took full advantage as they handed the Blue Rocks an 11-3 loss on Tuesday at Grainger Stadium. Castillo suffered his fifth consecutive defeat and the Blue Crew fell for the eighth time in their last nine road games. Nick Heath led the Blue Rocks offense with four hits, while Roman Collins drove in a pair in the losing cause.


Castillo allowed at least one base runner in all five of his trips to the mound. The southpaw helped his own cause by picking two guys off of first, but it was not enough. He surrendered a run in the second on a run-scoring single to shallow left by Carlos Garay. After Wilmington took a 2-1 lead in the top of third, Castillo yielded a game-tying RBI single by Luis La O in the third. Down East would again tie the game against the Blue Crew starter in the fourth on back-to-back two-out hits, including an RBI single from LeDarious Clark.


The Wood Ducks took the lead for good in the fifth. After La O drew a one-out walk, Josh Morgan singled and both runners advanced an extra base on Jose Sanchez' error in right field.   Yanio Perez poked a two-run single down the right field line to give the Wood Ducks a 5-3 lead. Ti'Quan Forbes followed with a double to score another run to make it a 6-3 deficit for the Rocks. Down East blew the game open in the eighth inning when they tacked on four more runs and sent eight men to the plate to make it out of reach for Wilmington.


Kyle Cody got the win in his Advanced-A debut for Down East, holding the Blue Rocks to three runs on seven hits in five frames. The right-hander fanned six, walked two and hit one.


Wilmington scored its runs courtesy of Collins' two-run double to right-center in the third inning and Jecksson Flores' RBI-single in the fourth. That knock gave the Rocks a 3-2 lead at the time, but they squandered a golden opportunity for insurance when they left the bases loaded in that same frame. The Blue Crew also stranded a pair in scoring position in the sixth, while in the eighth, the Blue Crew loaded the bases again but was unable to capitalize.


Wilmington continues its three-game series at Down East on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. as left-hander Colin Rodgers (2-3, 3.66) gets the ball for the Blue Rocks against Down East southpaw Wes Benjamin (8-6, 4.45). Fans can listen to the game as Matt Janus and Cory Nidoh will have the call on 89.7 WGLS-FM.



The Blue Rocks have had Mother Nature wreak havoc on their schedule in the last three weeks. Wilmington has endured rain delays seven times in the last 18 days. The Blue Crew had a game rained out at Frederick on July 22 and then endured two separate rain delays during the next day's doubleheader against the Keys. On July 29 Wilmington waited almost two hours before rain forced the postponement of their game at Carolina. It set up a doubleheader 24 hours later, which light rain delayed the start of by 30 minutes as well. Wilmington then had a scheduled game against Buies Creek cancelled on August 2 before Tuesday's 35-minute delay prior to first pitch.


Cristian Castillo's struggles continued on Tuesday. The Carolina League All-Star departed after just 4.1 frames, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks. The outing marked Castillo's fifth straight start allowing at least three earned runs. He did that only five times total in his first 17 outings. Since the All-Star break Castillo is 2-6 with a 5.37 ERA in nine starts. He was 4-2 with a 2.80 ERA in 17 first-half outings.


Tuesday bucked the trend for the Blue Rocks at historic Grainger Stadium in Kinston, North Carolina. Wilmington lost for only the second time in eight tries this season. The Rocks entered the series with a five-game winning streak against the Wood Ducks and outscored Down East 46-26 entering play on Tuesday. Despite the loss, the Rocks pounded out 12 hits and continue to hit well against the Wood Ducks, posting a .302 batting average (92-for-305) through the first eight contests of the head-to-head matchup.


Roman Collins continues to be a run-producer for Wilmington. The second-year Blue Rock registered two more RBIs on Tuesday, padding his team-leading total to 45. Collins also clubbed two doubles on Tuesday, which also makes him the team leader in that category with 24. Collins has 36 extra-base hits so far this season for the Blue Rocks. He managed just 29 extra-base hits all of last season during his time with both Wilmington and Low-A Lexington.


Chris DeVito finally broke out of his extended slump on Tuesday. The Wilmington slugger worked his way on base four times, thanks to a pair of walks and two singles. Entering the night, DeVito was just 2-for-his-last-43 with 22 strikeouts. Tuesday marked the first game without a whiff for DeVito since July 18. Overall on the season the California native has hit 19 home runs (11 at Low-A Lexington)



"I really think it's the inability to score early on the road. (On recent struggles on the road) For a long time, we were a good road team because we would go out there and score in the first inning and get things going. We haven't scored in the first inning, maybe even the second inning, in a long time on the road. We're always playing catch up. They get the lead, we get runs in the second and third. We could've had a lot more and break the game open but we didn't. We had chances, but we didn't do it. We also didn't pitch well, which didn't help.


Heath's speed is great. (On outfielder legging out infield single for fourth hit) He is starting to make contact and when he makes contact, good things happen. He has to avoid strikeouts, which he did (Tuesday). But when you put the ball in play and with his speed, good things happen.


(Devito) was much better tonight. (On first baseman's approach at the plate). The two walks were as good as anything. He's been swinging at those pitches and he wouldn't have had those two walks prior to today. It's a positive for him to have the two walks and two hits. Hopefully we can go from there."




25 Years of Blue Rocks Baseball

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

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