Hicklen delivers Blue Rocks from brink
It was a wild night at Frawley Stadium.Wild pitches in the eighth and ninth innings ramped up the excitement before Royals No. 15 prospectBrewer Hicklen delivered a walk-off bunt as Wilmington nipped Salem, 3-2, in Game 3 to stave off elimination in the Mills Cup semifinals.
It was a wild night at Frawley Stadium.
Wild pitches in the eighth and ninth innings ramped up the excitement before Royals No. 15 prospect
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Salem took a 2-1 lead in the eighth following
"I don't know if I've ever been given the bunt sign [in that situation]," Hicklen said. "When I was walking to the plate, I thought to myself, 'It would be nasty if I laid down a bunt.'"
Blue Rocks manager Scott Thorman had the same idea.
"[Thorman] put it on and they called a mound visit. I told the umpire [Drew Saluga], 'Hey, bro, I'm going to lay one down. Get into a good position and don't screw it up.'"
WE'RE NOT DONE YET! The Rocks come from behind to walk it off & force Game 4 on Saturday night! WHAT. A. GAME. pic.twitter.com/I8suFS8HoY— Wilmington Blue Rocks 🏆 (@WilmBlueRocks) September 7, 2019
Wilmington starter and sixth-ranked Royals prospect
Bubic retired the first 10 batters, six by punchout. The 22-year-old lefty chalked up three whiffs in the first and fourth frames. Salem, however, scored in the fourth on an RBI double by
The Red Sox did not manage another hit against the 40th overall pick in last year's Draft. He set down the minimum 11 after Granberg's two-bagger, aided in the fifth by a double play grounder off Nishioka's bat.
"Kris was absolutely dominating," Hicklen said. "It was a roller coaster of emotions. I think this will get us rolling. It was a really big win to switch the momentum."
Wilmington scratched across a run in the seventh to knot the game, 1-1, as Isbel laced a two-out single to center to chase home Gigliotti.
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Hicklen admitted he felt pressure during the game, which climaxed in the bottom of the third when Wilmington loaded the bases with nobody out and he struck out for the second time in as many at-bats.
"Looking back at the last few games, I've left too many on base. I was frustrated at myself," he said. "After that, I hit two balls well at second base and got a little confidence back in my swing. I was thankful for that fifth at-bat."
Entering the ninth, the 23-year-old outfielder was 1-for-12 and stranded nine runners.
"I'd put that scenario -- winning in the last at-bat -- in my head during offseason workouts," he noted. "Of course, I was hitting off the tee and visualizing a walk-off; I didn't expect to bunt for one."
Game 4 is Saturday at Wilmington.
In other Carolina League action:
Game 3 of the Down East-Fayetteville series was postponed due to field conditions following Hurricane Dorian. The Mills Cup semifinals resume at 4 p.m. ET Saturday at Grainger Stadium in Kinston, North Carolina, as part of a doubleheader. Both games will be seven-inning contests. The best-of-5 series is tied, 1-1.
Duane Cross is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DuaneCrossMiLB.