Kinston, N.C. - The start to the lone regular season trip to historic Grainger Stadium for the Wilmington Blue Rocks was spoiled as the Blue Crew dropped both games of the doubleheader to the Down East Wood Ducks by the scores of 6-5 and 8-5 Tuesday night. The Blue Rocks suffered a late-inning setback in the opening game before falling short in the nightcap. Gabriel Cancel had a big night and drove in five runs between the two games, including hitting a game-tying grand slam in the fifth inning in the first game. Wilmington has lost three straight following their season-high six-game win streak.
In the opening game of the series, the Blue Rocks struck first with a Chris DeVito RBI single in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. Down East tied the game when Melvin Novoa hit a solo home run. In the bottom of the fourth, the Wood Ducks pushed out to a 5-1 lead after an RBI single from Leody Taveras and a three-run homer from Anderson Tejada. The Blue Rocks authored an immediate response in the top of the fifth inning. Nick Heath and D.J. Burt singled and Khalil Lee walked to set the stage for Cancel who crushed a pitch from Down East's starter Edgar Arredondo for a game-tying grand slam.
The Wood Ducks manufactured a go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Charles LeBlanc reached on an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Cancel. Taveras moved LeBlanc over to third base on a sacrifice bunt before Tejada lofted a sacrifice fly to left field to score LeBlanc to make it a 6-5 Wilmington deficit. The Blue Crew pushed the tying-run on base in the top of the seventh, but D.J. Burt bounced into a double play to end the game.
In the backend of the doubleheader, it was the Wood Ducks who struck the scoreboard first. Brendon Davis singled home Taveras, who doubled earlier in the inning to make it 1-0 before Matt Whatley doubled home Franklin Rollin to double up the Wood Ducks' lead, 2-0. Wilmington inched closer in the fourth with an RBI groundout from Meibrys Viloria to make it a 2-1 ballgame. Down East quickly padded their lead on three, run-scoring hits with an RBI single from LeBlanc, a two-run triple by Taveras and Josh Altmann capped the scoring with an RBI single to make it a 6-1 hole for the Blue Crew.
In the top of the fifth inning, Wilmington cut into the deficit on an RBI single from Cancel while the Rocks capitalized on a throwing error by the Wood Ducks to cut the deficit in half, 6-3. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Down East added two more runs on a fielding error by Burt to make it an 8-3 contest. The Rocks attempted to rally in their final at-bats. Lee picked up his second hit of the game with a single and moved to second on a groundout. Kort Peterson doubled home Lee to again cut the Blue Rocks deficit in half, 8-4. Meibrys Viloria smacked a run-scoring single to plate Peterson to give the game its final score, 8-5.
The Rocks will play their final game of the regular season at Down East on Wednesday, June 13 in the series finale. Righty Anthony Bender (3-2, 5.17 ERA) starts for Wilmington while fellow right-hander Kaleb Fontenot (2-0, 4.13 ERA) starts for Down East. Fans can tune into the game with Matt Janus on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
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Khalil Lee walked in the first game and picked up a pair of hits in the second game to extend his on-base streak to 18 games. It is the longest on-base streak for any Blue Rock this season and longest since Anderson Miller reached in 30 straight games last season. Kort Peterson also pushed his career-long hit streak to 11 games with a two-hit performance in the first game while doubling home a run in the seventh inning in the second game. The 11-game hitting streak marks a season-high for any Blue Rock this season and during the stretch he is hitting .412 (14-for-37).
Infielder Gabriel Cancel smacked a game-tying grand slam in the first game of the doubleheader. It was his third homer of the season and the second grand slam hit by a Blue Rock this season. The first grand slam hit by a Blue Rock this season was back on April 19 by Chase Vallot at Frederick. Vallot has hit three grand slams in his Blue Rocks' career, with two coming last season.
The doubleheader was the fourth for the Blue Crew this season and second in which they were unable to earn a victory. In their second twin bill of the season, the Blue Rocks were swept at Salem. Overall, the Blue Rocks have swept a doubleheader which was against Lynchburg on June 6 and split another with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on May 16.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.