Fayetteville, NC - When his team needed him most Austin Cox responded, as the Wilmington lefty tossed six scoreless innings in the Blue Rocks' 2-0 victory over the Fayetteville Woodpeckers on Friday at Segrea Stadium. The Game Four win by the Blue Crew staved off elimination and set up a winner take all contest in the best of five Mills Cup Championship Series.
Cox was nearly untouchable. The Macon, Georgia native allowed only one hit on his way to the triumph. He did issue three free passes, but worked around them all in his team's biggest game of the year.
His offense did not do much, but clawed its way to an early lead in the top of the second. With two down and the bases empty, MJ Melendez surprised Fayetteville starter Jojanse Torres by launching a 1-2 pitch over the right-center fence. The long ball from Melendez was the first RBI for the Blue Crew in 68 at bats versus the righty in 2019.
Neither offense could muster another score until the ninth when the Rocks manufactured an insurance run. Kyle Kasser opened the inning with a single. He was then sacrificed into scoring position by Ricky Aracena. Melendez followed with a walk, and one out later Cristian Perez singled in Kasser to provide Wilmington just a little breathing room.
The Rocks' relief corps was just as good as Cox. Andrew Beckwith worked around a walk to post a goose egg in the seventh. Then Josh Dye struck out the side in the eighth. The righty tried to come back out and finish things up in the final frame, but a two-out single from Chandler Taylor forced the Rocks to call upon Tad Ratliff .
Ratliff immediately yielded a double to David Hensley, which put the potential tying-run in scoring position, but Ratliff bared down and got Miguelangel Sierra to ground one back to the mound for the game-clinching out.
This Mills Cup Championship Series concludes in Fayetteville on Saturday with a championship-deciding Game Five. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m., as southpaw Rito Lugo gets the start for the Rocks, against Woodpeckers righty Luis Garcia. Fans can catch all of the action with the Voice of the Blue Rocks, Cory Nidoh on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.