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My Blue Rocks Memory: Clinching a Trip to the Mills Cup Final

A Season Full of Memories Had One Stand Out Most
May 29, 2020

Wilmington, DE – As we longingly await the return of Blue Rocks baseball, the team's front office and its fans will be sharing some of their favorite memories from Frawley Stadium.

Wilmington, DE – As we longingly await the return of Blue Rocks baseball, the team's front office and its fans will be sharing some of their favorite memories from Frawley Stadium.

Life is all about timing and in 2019 mine could not have been any better. My name is Cory Nidoh and I am the director of video and broadcasting for the Wilmington Blue Rocks. I’ve been with the organization for three seasons, but 2019 was my first as the team’s lead broadcaster. It was my great privilege to travel each day with a baseball team that could best be described as winners.

In a year where great memories at the ballpark were formed almost routinely, one stood out above the rest. The day the Blue Rocks punched their way to the Mills Cup Championship Series after rallying back from an 0-2 deficit in the NDCS against the Salem Red Sox.

Now, I could have easily chosen either of the walk-off wins in each of the previous two nights, that staved off elimination. And really those three days all go hand-in-hand, but the culmination of the comeback was obviously the sweetest moment.

It was a series that did not start favorably for the Rocks. Salem was the hottest team in the Carolina League entering the postseason and they certainly showed why in the first two games in Virginia. The Red Sox took both games, outscoring the Blue Rocks by a combined 13-5.

I remember when the team boarded the bus to head back to Wilmington following the second loss, manager Scott Thorman addressed his players and he closed his message with: “We aren’t done, we are winning this thing.”

That was the mindset of the 2019 team the entire year. Winning half of their games by one-run, they repeatedly found different ways to squeak out victories. They knew they could handle adversity.

The following day at Frawley Stadium, I went down to the clubhouse to deliver the usual stats and lineups to the coaches and spoke with a few players. The guys’ mantra was simple: “Don’t let us win one.” Meaning, if the Rocks extended the series, they believed they would come all the way back despite their backs being against the wall.

That night, Brewer Hicklen laid down a safety squeeze bunt to score Michael Gigliotti from third base for the walk-off win to continue the series. There was that “one”. The following night, Wilmington native Tyler Hill, who joined the team in the second half of the season, ripped a game-winning single in the 10th inning to force the decisive Game Five.

All of a sudden, the Blue Crew had the momentum back in their corner.

Game Five would be decided on a sunny, Sunday afternoon. First pitch was scheduled for 1:35 p.m., so the Rocks had to quickly contain their excitement from the night before after celebrating another improbable walk-off win. Despite the players having to arrive at the ballpark much earlier than the previous night games, the energy was there. So was the determination and the confidence. I could feel it delivering the stats and lineups pregame. It was palpable.

It’s hard to describe, but I knew that this team was going to win that day.

Sure enough, they earned a wire-to-wire 6-3 victory, albeit things got a bit dicey in the top of the ninth inning. Collin Snider stranded the bases loaded and got a pop up to shortstop Cristian Perez to end the game and the celebration began near the mound.

That euphoria continued into the clubhouse. Because it was such a young group they celebrated with sparkling cider, and as the corks were popped and the cider was sprayed one rallying cry was heard.

“Don’t let us win just one.”

Being around the team that entire season, seeing the work they put in, witnessing their ability to find ways to win and their never-say-die mentality gave me a newfound appreciation for what it takes to win in this game. It all came together during that series. It easily could’ve went the other way. That game, that moment to me, is the most memorable, and why I’m so grateful to have been a small part of it.