Wilmington, DE - A bases-clearing triple by Seuly Matias lifted the Wilmington Blue Rocks to a 4-3 victory over the Down East Wood Ducks in an early-season matchup of first-place teams at Frawley Stadium on Thursday. Matias' big knock in the fifth marked the second time in the game Wilmington had erased a deficit. The win was the Blue Crew's 11th in their last 13 games.
The Rocks got their fifth frame started thanks to a one-out single by Rudy Martin. Martin then stole second and went to third on Ricky Aracena's liner to right. A walk to Blake Perkins loaded the bases, but Brewer Hicklen struck out. That set the stage for Matias. The sixth-ranked prospect in the Royals system, according to MLB.com, roped a liner to right-center that one-hopped the fence and plated all three runners.
Perkins had drawn the Rocks even earlier in the night. The switch hitter scored Martin when he poked a sacrifice fly to center in the bottom of the third.
Jackson Kowar picked up the win for Wilmington. The righty allowed two earned runs on two hits in 5.2 frames. Kowar (1-0) fanned six and walked three. Rito Lugo turned in a scoreless inning out of the 'pen while Holden Capps stranded an inherited runner and kept Down East off the board over 1.1 frames. Tad Ratliff worked around a one-out single in the ninth to pick up his fifth save in as many tries this season.
Wilmington continues its seven-game homestand on Friday at Frawley Stadium. Southpaw Daniel Tillo (2-0, 1.38) gets the ball for the Rocks, while Down East will counter with righty Reid Anderson . First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m. and tickets are available at BlueRocks.com. Fans who can't make it out to the ballpark can catch all the action with the Voice of the Blue Rocks Cory Nidoh on 89.7 WGLS-FM or BlueRocks.com.
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The Blue Rocks made their second roster move of the season before the game on Thursday. Wilmington placed prospect outfielder Kyle Isbel on the injured list and replaced him with Rudy Martin. Martin spent the 2018 season with the Rocks, batting .232 with four homers, 21 extra-base hits and 37 RBI in 75 games. Earlier in the week pitcher Marcelo Martinez replaced Nolan Watson on the roster after Watson was placed on IL. Martinez made quite the debut tossing five scoreless frames to earn a win on Wednesday. Martin went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a stolen base in his 2019 debut with the Rocks on Thursday.
The Blue Crew won for the seventh time this season in a game decided by only a single score. Wilmington is now 7-3 in one-run contests this year. The 10 games decided by just one run are the most in the Carolina League over the first two-plus weeks of the 2019 campaign.
The Blue Rocks continue to struggle defensively in 2019. Pitcher Jackson Kowar committed an error in the second inning on Thursday. It was Wilmington's Carolina League-leading 21st defensive miscue of the season. The Rocks have gone just four games all season without committing at least one error. For Kowar it was his second misplayed ball of the year.
Wilmington may call the Carolina League's Northern Division home, but in the early part of the season the Blue Crew will be much more familiar with the CL South. The Rocks are in the midst of 17 consecutive games against southern division foes. Wilmington swept a three-game series at home against the Dash and then took three of four at Carolina before taking two of three at Winston-Salem. The Rocks are in the midst of a four-game series at home against Down East before welcoming the Dash back to Frawley Stadium for three more. Wilmington is currently 9-2 during this long stretch of southern hospitality.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.