Salem, VA - The Wilmington Blue Rocks (2-4) dropped the middle game of the series against the Salem Red Sox (5-1) by the score of 3-1 Tuesday night at Haley Toyota Field. Despite having nine hits to Salem's four, Wilmington was unable to capitalize offensively and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Xavier Fernandez supplied the lone run for the Blue Rocks with his first home run of the season. With the loss, Wilmington has now lost three consecutive games.
Lefty Cristian Castillo was cruising through the first three innings for the Blue Rocks before he ran into a jam in the fourth inning. He allowed an RBI double to Bobby Dalbec and a sacrifice fly from Jhon Nunez to make it a 2-0 deficit for the Rocks. However, Castillo limited the damage and stranded runners at second and third to end the inning. The Red Sox tacked on another run in the fifth inning on a Brett Netzer run-scoring single to make it a 3-0 hole for the Rocks.
In the top of the seventh inning, Fernandez cranked his first home run as a Blue Rock over the left field wall to get Wilmington on the board, 3-1. Two batters later, Kort Peterson ripped a one-out double to bring the tying-run to the plate, but Wilmington was unable to score. In the eighth, Gabriel Cancel and Khalil Lee each singled to position the Rocks to rally and potentially take the lead. However, three straight groundouts pursued and ended the threat.
Offensively, Cancel, Fernandez and Peterson all picked up a pair of hits in the loss while Castillo battled his way through 5.2 innings and allowed just three earned runs in the losing effort.
The Blue Rocks will try to salvage the series on Wednesday, April 11 in the final game of the series and week long road trip. RHP Jace Vines (0-1, 21.00 ERA) takes the mound for Wilmington while returning RHP Roniel Raudes (1-0, 1.80 ERA) makes the start for Salem. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and fans can listen to the game as Matt Janus will have the call on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
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Outfielder Kort Peterson picked up another two hits Tuesday night after he turned in a three-hit performance in the series opener on Monday night. In his last two games, the outfielder is 5-for-his-last-8 with two doubles and a run scored. The 23-year-old started the season 1-for-11 through his first three games. Last season, Peterson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury after his torrid start with the Blue Rocks. He played in just 11 games, but hit .333 (13-for-39) with three doubles, two triples and a home run.
The Blue Rocks continue to try and find that clutch hit that has been eluding the team through the first six games of the season. Wilmington went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position Tuesday night and are 1-for-20 in the series against Salem. On the season, the Blue Crew are hitting just .131 (8-for-61) in that situation.
Outfield prospect Khalil Lee picked up another hit and he has now hit safely in all six games played to start the season. Last season with Low-A Lexington, Lee hit safely in 10 of his first 11 games, including eight straight from his fourth game of the year to his 11th. In his career, Lee's longest hit streak spanned 11 games back in 2016 in the Arizona League from July 6 - July 19. Entering Tuesday's game, the 19-year-old was top-three in the Carolina League in multiple offensive categories including batting average, runs, hits, extra-base hits, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.