Kinston, N.C. - The series finale between the Wilmington Blue Rocks and the Down East Wood Ducks was a pitching duel in which the Blue Rocks came out on top in a wire-to-wire win by the score of 2-1 Wednesday night at Grainger Stadium. Wilmington starter Anthony Bender fired seven strong innings to earn his third straight victory while Gabriel Cancel drove in both runs for the Blue Crew. The win snapped a three-game skid for Wilmington.
The Blue Rocks wasted no time cracking the scoreboard and scored in their first look against Wood Ducks' starter Kaleb Fontenot. D.J. Burt reached with a one-out single and moved to second on a groundout. Cancel then followed with an RBI double to left field to score Burt and put the Rocks up 1-0. In the third inning it was Cancel again providing the offense for the Blue Crew. Nick Heath reached on a fielding error by Down East's shortstop Anderson Tejada. Heath moved over to second base on a ground ball before Cancel once again delivered with a two-out, run-scoring hit to double the Rocks lead, 2-0.
Down East would cut the deficit in half when Tejada hit a solo home run to left center field to make it a 2-1 ballgame. Bender found a groove and allowed just four hits, the home run for the lone score on his ledger and struck out two en route to his third consecutive victory. Lefty Cristian Castillo tossed a clean eighth inning and picked up a strikeout before Carolina League All-Star Bryan Brickhouse notched his 11th save of the season to preserve the win for the Blue Rocks.
Wilmington will begin their final series of the first half with a four-game series at Winston-Salem starting on Thursday, June 14. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. with the Blue Rocks sending right-hander Ofreidy Gomez (2-4, 3.88 ERA) to the mound. The Dash will call upon CL All-Star and righty Dylan Cease (8-2, 2.97 ERA) to the hill. Fans can listen to the action with Matt Janus on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
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Khalil Lee has his 18-game on-base streak come to an end in Wednesday's win going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. It was the longest on-base streak by a Blue Rock this season and was tied for the second-longest active streak in the Carolina League entering play. During the stretch, the 19-year-old slashed .350/.473/.567. Kort Peterson also had his career-long hit streak come to an end at 11 games. The 11-game hitting streak marks a season-high for any Blue Rock this season and during the stretch he hit .412 (14-for-37).
Infielder Gabriel Cancel provided most of the offense for the Blue Rocks in the series against Down East. On Wednesday, he drove in both runs in Wednesday's victory to give him seven RBI in the three-game set. On Tuesday, he smacked a game-tying grand slam in the first game of the doubleheader before driving in a run in another run in the second game of the doubleheader. It was his third homer of the season and first-career grand slam. It was also 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.
The Rocks will not face the Down East Wood Ducks until August 20-22 when Down East visits Frawley Stadium for a three-game series. The Blue Rocks will wrap up the first half of the season with another Southern Division foe in the Winston-Salem Dash who are vying for the First Half Southern Division title. The only team Wilmington has yet to play this season is the Buies Creek Astros.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.