Wilmington, DE- For the first time since 2015 the Wilmington Blue Rocks will be headed to the postseason. Wilmington clinched a first-half CL North crown with its 2-0 win in 10 innings over the Fayetteville Woodpeckers on Saturday at Frawley Stadium. Blake Perkins smacked the game-winning RBI single down the right field line to score Cristian Perez to put an exclamation point on the clinching win and the fourth walk-off win of the season for Wilmington.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Nick Pratto , who started the inning off at second, per the new extra inning rules in Minor League Baseball, advanced to third base on a passed ball. Perez drew a walk and then stole second base to put runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. After a strikeout, Ricky Aracena attempted to bunt Pratto home, but the first baseman was thrown out at home for the second out of the inning. Dennicher Carrasco came up as a pinch-hitter and drew a walk to set the stage for Perkins. The outfielder laced an 0-2 pitch down the right field line to plate Perez to earn the win and put an exclamation point on the clinching victory.
The Rocks had to rally from an early 3-0 hole after the first inning as Fayetteville sent eight men to the plate and scored three runs against Jackson Kowar . Colton Shaver singled home a run and Scott Schreiber doubled home two more to give the visitors an early lead. However, that's all the Woodpeckers would score.
Kowar settled in nicely and kept the Woodpeckers off the board for the next five innings while the offense chipped away. In the third inning, Seuly Matias put the Rocks on the board with an RBI single to score Brewer Hicklen who drew a walk to make it a 3-1 game. In the fifth inning, Perkins reached on a sacrifice bunt, but a throwing error by Fayetteville's reliever Alex Hansen allowed Rudy Martin to score from second on the play to make it a one-run ballgame. The Rocks tied it up in the seventh as Hicklen laced a triple off the wall in left-center field and then scored on a throwing error by the left fielder Schrieber as the toss bounced into the seats to award Hickeln home to tie the game at 3-3.
Wilmington continues its seven-game homestand on Sunday against Fayetteville. Southpaw Marcelo Martinez will get the ball for the Blue Crew as first pitch is slated for 1:35 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:
Wilmington has not been to the playoffs since 2015. That year, Wilmington won the first half with a 38-32 record. The Rocks have 39 victories in 2019 and still have eight contests remaining in the first half. The 2015 Blue Crew eventually reached the Mills Cup Championship Series by sweeping Lynchburg in the Northern Division Championship Series. Wilmington is in search of its first Carolina League crown since 1999.
Wilmington has sat atop the Carolina League North standings for more than three-quarters of the 2019 season-53 of the campaign's first 63 days. The Rocks have not been out of first place since April 26.
It was the fourth walk-off win for the Blue Rocks this season with one in April, two in May, and Saturday's was the first in June. Last season, the Rocks had just one walk-off win. The one-run victory was yet another game in which the Blue Rocks were victorious in a one-run affair, pushing their record to an impressive 23-5 in such games. Overall, Wilmington is now a remarkable 31-9 in contests decided by two-runs or less.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.