LEXINGTON, KY - Grayson Rodriguez struck out 10 batters over a sensational five innings, spearheading combined two-hit shutout as the Delmarva Shorebirds downed the Lexington Legends 3-0 on Friday night at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Rodriguez (1-0) earned the first win of his professional career in dominant fashion, scattering two singles and walking two over 74 pitches in his five frames. It was the first time the Shorebirds' (2-0) starter and No. 5 Orioles prospect had ever pitched into the fourth inning, let alone the fifth. Rodriguez struck out three in a row twice, once in the first inning after letting the first two men reach base, and once in the fifth to finish of his night with an even 10 punchouts.
Zach Haake (0-1) took the loss for the Legends (0-2), allowing two runs (one earned) on two hits over four laborious innings. Ofelky Peralta earned his first save in just his second career relief appearance, shutting Lexington down 1-2-3 in the ninth.
Delmarva took advantage of a sloppy Legends infield in the top of the second inning. Robert Neustrom and Doran Turchin led off with back-to-back singles. With Daniel Fajardo at the plate, Neustrom got caught in a rundown between second and third, but second baseman Rubendy Jacquez threw the ball into the third base dugout, allowing Neustrom to score and Turchin to take third. Fajardo then put the ball in play for an RBI groundout to put the Shorebirds up 2-0.
Neustrom delivered an emphatic insurance run in the sixth, crushing a line drive solo homer to the roof of the party deck in right field. The Orioles' No. 30 prospect's first round-tripper of the season made it 3-0 Delmarva.
After Rodriguez made his exit, Matt Hammonds came in and shut down Lexington in the sixth and seventh. Hector Guance walked the bases loaded with one out in the eighth to give the Legends some life, but Matt De La Rosa came in and struck out back-to-back hitters to put out the fire and preserve the clean sheet. Peralta began the ninth with back-to-back punchouts before coaxing a grounder to short to finish off the shutout.
Neustrom finished 2-for-4 with the solo homer and two runs scored to lead the Shorebirds, while Fajardo went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Nathan Eaton and Eric Cole scraped off a single each against Rodriguez for the only two Legends hits of the night.
The 19-year-old Rodriguez's performance was a near-carbon copy of Michael Baumann's Opening Day start for Delmarva in 2018; Baumann struck out 10 Asheville Tourists over five scoreless four-hit innings as part of a 2-0 shutout win. That victory sparked a season-opening seven-game winning streak.
The Shorebirds go for three in a row to start the year on Saturday night against the Legends. RHP Gray Fenter makes starts in his return to Delmarva against Lexington lefty Kris Bubic. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m., and pregame coverage on Fox Sports 960 AM and the MiLB First Pitch App beginning at 6:20 with Will DeBoer on the call.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.