Wilmington, DE - The Wilmington Blue Rocks (11-12) ended their six-game homestand in dominant fashion as they shutout the Winston-Salem Dash (12-12) 3-0 Sunday afternoon at Frawley Stadium. Brandon Downes provided the offense with a three-run home run in the third inning while starter Ofreidy Gomez and reliever Anthony Bender piggybacked to complete the third shutout win of the season for Wilmington. The Rocks earned the series win over the Dash and finished the homestand with a 3-3 record.
Gomez set the tone of the ballgame first batter in and struck out Luis Basabe to start the game. The righty continued to pile up the strikeouts and racked up five through the first three innings. In the bottom off the third inning, a two-out error by Winston-Salem's shortstop Yeyson Yrizarri on a ground ball hit by Emmanuel Rivera extended the inning. With two runners on, Downes launched a three-run blast over the right field wall to give the Rocks the 3-0 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Gomez finished his day strong and had a stretch from the end of the first inning through the fourth inning where he retired 10 straight batters. The righty picked up his first win of the season, allowed three hits, walked one and struck out nine. Bender worked around a jam in the seventh with runners at the corners and picked up a strikeout and induced an inning-ending double play to end the threat. Bender earned his first save of the season with three solid innings of relief.
The Blue Rocks return to action on Tuesday, May 1 when they begin a three-game series at Potomac. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 and righty Gerson Garabito (1-1, 2.70 ERA) will make the start for the Blue Rocks. Fans can listen to the game as Matt Janus will have the call on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
Brandon Downes continues his hot start to the season, hitting his second homer of the year to provide all the offense for the Rocks Sunday afternoon. The outfielder led the Rocks last year with 13 homers in only 72 games. The year before, he hit 12 with Wilmington bringing his total to 27 overall in his Advanced-A career. Downes hit a two-run homer in his season debut on Thursday against Potomac.
Starting pitcher Ofreidy Gomez had his best career outing in a Blues Rocks uniform. The right-hander threw six scoreless innings only allowing three hits and one walk while racking up nine strikeouts. The six innings pitched and nine strikeouts were season-highs for Gomez. Anthony Bender came in to pitch a three-inning save to earn his first this season. The combined effort of Gomez and Bender earned the Rocks their third shutout victory of the season.
With the win on Sunday, the Blue Rocks captured their second series win of the season. Wilmington shook off their rubber match struggles, improving to a 2-4 record in series closing games. The boys in blue wrapped up the first month of baseball with an 11-12 record and currently sit fourth in the Carolina League Northern Division. Last year, Wilmington went 8-15 in the month of April.
THEY SAID IT, MANAGER DARRYL KENNEDY:
(On Ofreidy Gomez) "He had a very good fastball and was able to locate and have control with it. His curveball was looking good today and he was able to throw it for strikes and mix it with his pitches. I think the weather helped him as well. The wind was in the right direction for him and it was a great performance."
(Having Downes in Lineup) "It's nice because out lineup is very left-handed. It's good that he can get in there and play. He's taking advantage of his opportunity down here with us after not getting playing time in Double-A. He's come up with a couple of big hits for us and it's nice to have that veteran presence from the right side of the plate."
(Importance of finishing homestand with win) "You want to win at home. We had a chance Sunday to salvage the homestand by winning and splitting the six games here. It was big being able to do that. Winston-Salem beat us up pretty good in the opener of the series on Friday night. We came back and had two great pitching performances to come away with the series win. It was a great job by the team. We look forward to the off day (Monday) before we go and take care of business down in Potomac."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.