Wilmington, DE - Timely hitting and dominant pitching powered the Wilmington Blue Rocks (9-11) to a 5-0 win over the Potomac Nationals (11-10) to salvage the three-game series Thursday night at Frawley Stadium. Brandon Downes smacked a home run in his season debut while right-hander Arnaldo Hernandez worked around early trouble to throw five scoreless innings and earned the win. Emmanuel Rivera paced the offense with three hits and also drove in a run. The victory also snapped a three-game losing streak for the Blue Crew.
For the third straight game, the Rocks struck the scoreboard first, but on Thursday night, they did not relinquish their lead. In the fourth inning, Downes crushed a two-run homer to put Wilmington ahead 2-0. Later in the inning, Chase Vallot reached on a one-out double before Angelo Castellano singled him home to pad the Rocks' lead, 3-0.
In the seventh inning, the Rocks were able to get to Potomac reliever Steven Fuentes. With the bases loaded, Khalil Lee reached on a fielder's choice to score Castellano from third base to make it 4-0 before Rivera ripped his third hit of the night to left field to plate Rudy Martin to cap the scoring, 5-0. Potomac would attempt a rally in their half of the seventh inning against reliever Vance Tatum.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Tatum struck out Ian Sagdal to strand the bases loaded and end the Potomac threat. Justin Camp tossed the final two innings in scoreless fashion to preserve the shutout victory for the Rocks. Hernandez battled early and finished his outing strong to earn his second straight win. He stranded five runners in scoring position through the first three innings before retiring 10 of the final 12 batters he faced.
The Blue Rocks begin a three-game series with the Winston-Salem Dash on Friday, April 27, 2018. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and Wilmington will send LHP Cristian Castillo (1-1. 7.00 ERA) to the mound. Fans can listen to the game as Matt Janus and Cory Nidoh have the call on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
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With the win, the Rocks posted their second shutout win of the season thanks to a combined effort of Hernandez, Tatum and Camp. The trio of arms scattered nine hits, walked five and struck out eight in the winning effort. The five scoreless innings tossed by Hernandez marked the second consecutive start the righty has not allowed a run. On April 20 at Frederick, he threw six shutout innings and earned his first-career Advanced-A win.
Five different Rocks picked up a hit in the win while Emmanuel Rivera , and Angelo Castellano each had multi-hit efforts. Rivera posted his first, three-hit game of the season and fourth total multi-hit game of the campaign. He had an eight-game hitting streak snapped in the series opener on Tuesday. Castellano has hit safely in five straight games.
Brandon Downes made his 2018 debut and went 1-for-2, with the two-run home run and two walks. The outfielder is now in his fourth stint with the Rocks after leading the team with 13 home runs in just 71 games a season ago while battling through an injury plagued campaign.
THEY SAID IT, MANAGER DARRYL KENNEDY:
(On series finale win): "Any time you can stop a losing streak before it gets out of hand is always big. A couple disappointing losses the last couple nights, but we were able to put it together (Thursday night). The pitching did a great job for us tonight. It was still a close game up until the seventh inning, but I thought we worked out of some jams and made some pitches when we really needed it and that was the difference."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.