Rocks and Cats Split Twin Bill at Frawley

First-Half Champs Rally to Take Opener

Brewer Hicklen tallied three hits in the Blue Rocks win over Lynchburg in the first of game of a doubleheader on Tuesday night. (Brad Glazier)

By Matt Janus / Wilmington Blue Rocks | June 11, 2019 10:52 PM

Wilmington, DE- The Wilmington Blue Rocks rallied for a narrow win in game one of Tuesday's doubleheader which led the Blue Crew to a split with the Lynchburg Hillcats at Frawley Stadium. Wilmington took the opener, 2-1, but was routed in game two by a score of 9-1. The night cap loss halted Wilmington's four-game winning streak.

In a bullpen by committee game the Wilmington relief corps sparkled in the opener. Rito Lugo allowed just one run on one hit over four frames in a spot start. He departed with the score tied and gave way to Josh Dye, who tossed a pair of scoreless frames to earn his second win in as many decisions as a Blue Rock. Tyler Zuber worked around a single in the final frame to nail down his 11th save of the season on the day he was named a Carolina League All Star.

Wilmington's offense erased an early 1-0 deficit thanks to Cristian Perez's RBI-single in the fourth. The Rocks then went ahead for good in the sixth. Nick Pratto got things going with a one-out walk. Seuly Matias followed with a free pass of his own and then Perez was hit by a pitch to load the bases. That allowed Sebastian Rivero's fielder's choice grounder to bring home the winning run. The catcher hit a soft roller to third that Nolan Jones fielded on the charge, but Jones' throw to the plate was late and Wilmington was ahead for good.

In the nightcap Lynchburg raced out to a big early lead thanks to four runs in the first against Wilmington starter Daniel Tillo. The lefty was chased after 1.1 innings. Tillo allowed eight runs (six earned) on five hits and three walks. Connor Smith led the way with two RBI-singles while Gavin Collins plated a pair with his single in the first.

The Blue Crew got their only run in the fifth. A single by Jose Marquez brought home Rivero. Lynchburg starter Anderson Polanco tossed four scoreless innings. Felix Tati allowed the fifth-frame tally, but got the win.

Wilmington wraps up its seven-game homestand on Wednesday against Lynchburg. First pitch is slated for 6:35 p.m. and tickets are available at BlueRocks.com. Fans who cannot make it to the ballpark can catch all the action with the Voice of the Blue Rocks, Cory Nidoh on 89.7 WGLS-FM.

PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:

The Blue Rocks had six players named Carolina League All Stars by the league office on Tuesday. Pitchers Brady Singer, Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar, Tyler Zuber and Tad Ratliff along with catcher MJ Melendez will represent the CL North on June 18 at Frederick's Nymeo Field. The All Stars were chosen via vote by Carolina League managers, general managers and media. The firs-half champs had the second-most All Stars of any CL North squad, behind the host Keys.

Wilmington continues to excel in close contests this season. The Blue Crew lead the Carolina League with 29 games decided by a single score in 2019 and have played 42 affairs with a margin of victory of two-or-less. Wilmington is an impressive 33-9 in those close calls including 24-5 in one-run decisions. The Rocks are also 24-1 when holding an advantage through seven innings and 27-0 when leading after eight.

Entering Tuesday, it had been awhile since the Blue Rocks had faced a southpaw starter. Wilmington last saw an opponent send a lefty to the mound for first pitch on May 23. Perhaps the Blue Crew were a little rusty as a result. Anderson Polanco fanned five and allowed only one hit over four scoreless frames. Consequently, the Rocks lost for just the fifth time in 19 tries against left-handed starting pitching in 2019.

Wilmington played its sixth doubleheader of the season on Tuesday. For the fourth time the Blue Crew split with Wilmington sweeping one twin bill and getting swept in the other. Monday marked the seventh rain out of the season for the Rocks. Six of those have come at home, with one of the contests getting cancelled.

The Rocks were vying to equal their longest winning streak of the season on in game two of Tuesday's double dip. Wilmington won five straight from April 6-11. Since then the team has won four in a row five times, but have been out-scored by a combined 34-7 in their bid for a fifth straight victory.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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