Wilmington, DE - A dropped fly ball in extra innings on Saturday allowed two runs to score for the Down East Wood Ducks, as they swept both ends of a doubleheader from the Wilmington Blue Rocks at Frawley Stadium. The Rocks lost the opener, 9-1, and then fell 3-2 in eight innings during the nightcap. It marked the first time Wilmington dropped consecutive games since the first two contests of the season.
Brewer Hicklen had the ball go off his glove with two on in the top of the eighth inning. As per Minor League Baseball rules, Down East started extra innings with a runner at second base. The Wood Ducks then drew a walk and catcher MJ Melendez made an errant pickoff toss that allowed both runners to advance. After Tyler Zuber bounced back with a strikeout, Julio Pablo Martinez lifted a ball to Hicklen in left. It was ruled a sacrifice fly, but the misplay allowed both Wood Ducks to score and proved to be the difference in the game.
Wilmington got one back in the home-half of the final frame. With two on and two out, another bad pickoff throw brought home Hicklen and moved Angelo Castellano to second with the potential tying run. It would not score, though, as Rudy Martin grounded out to end the game.
The setback wasted a strong start by Daniel Lynch , who worked a career-high six innings, but took a no-decision for the Rocks. The 2018 first round pick fanned six and walked only one. He scattered seven hits but surrendered just a single score.
Wilmington got its only run in regulation when Melendez's sacrifice fly to center brought home Seuly Matias in the fourth. Down East had taken an early 1-0 advantage when Tyreque Reed singled in Diosbel Arias in the second.
The opener went awry almost immediately for the Blue Crew. Down East got runs in each of their first five trips to the plate, scoring once in the first, twice in the second, four times in the third and once each again in the fourth and fifth. Daniel Tillo endured his roughest start of the season. The lefty allowed seven runs on eight hits and two walks in a season-low 2.2 frames.
Anderson Tejeda, Yonny Hernandez and Reed each drove in a pair for the Wood Ducks. Down East starter Redi Anderson yielded just three hits and an unearned run in 5.2 frames on his way to the win.
Wilmington got its only score in the third. Ricky Aracena opened the frame with an infield single and came home on a passed ball.
Wilmington continues its seven-game homestand on Sunday at Frawley Stadium. Right-hander Brady Singer 1-1, 1.38) gets the ball for the Rocks, while Down East will counter with righty Jason Bahr. First pitch of the series finale is slated for 1:35 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.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
Wilmington has already played three doubleheaders in just the first two-and-a-half weeks of the 2019 campaign. Ironically, all three of the Rocks' early season rainouts have come on Fridays and consequently all of the doubleheaders have been on Saturdays. Wilmington is 3-3 in twin bills this year, with an April 13 sweep of Carolina, a split against Salem on April 6 and two losses to Down East on Saturday.
The Blue Crew have seen five of their last six games decided by only a single score. Unfortunately for the home team, Saturday was their first loss during that stretch of tight baseball. Wilmington is now 7-4 in one-run contests this year. The 11 games decided by just one run are the most in the Carolina League over the first two-and-a-half weeks of the 2019 campaign. The Rocks also played their second extra-innings affair of the season and are now 1-1 in contests that are not decided in regulation.
The Blue Rocks continue to struggle defensively in 2019. Wilmington committed four more errors in the opener of Saturday's doubleheader. It marked the second time this season the Rocks have committed four or more defensive miscues in a game and the fifth time in only 17 contests they been guilty of at least three. The Rocks added another in the nightcap and are last in the Carolina League with 26 total errors as a team. They have committed at least one defensive miscue in all but four games on the year.
Wilmington has the second-best record in the Carolina League, but the Rocks have had a hard time getting hits. Saturday's doubleheader saw the Blue Crew manage just six total hits over 15 innings. On the season Wilmington has mustered four hits or fewer nine times in 17 games. Remarkably, the Blue Crew are 5-4 in those contests.
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 9-4 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.