Wilmington, DE - A three-run eighth inning doomed the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Monday as they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Winston-Salem Dash. Winston-Salem's late heroics spoiled a terrific spot start by J.C. Cloney, who allowed just one hit in 5.2 scoreless innings. The loss extended Wilmington's losing streak to a season-high four games.
The Dash jumpstarted their decisive rally with a one-out infield single by Yeyson Yrizarri. Holden Capps (1-1) then hit JJ Muno with a pitch. That caused the Rocks to make a pitching change, as closer Tad Ratliff entered. The right-hander walked the first batter he faced. Nick Madrigal then came through with a two-run single that gave Winston-Salem the lead for good. Zach Remillard provided some insurance with an RBI-single to right.
Wilmington got its only score courtesy of an RBI-double by MJ Melendez in the fourth. The Rocks looked poised for a big frame, but with runners at the corners Dennicher Carrasco lined into an inning-ending double play.
Winston-Salem was held to just one hit from the second inning through the seventh, but the Dash pitchers kept them in the game. Alec Hansen tossed two scoreless frames out of the 'pen to pick up the win, while Jose Nin stranded the potential tying-run in scoring position in the ninth to earn his first save of the season. Starter Blake Battenfield allowed just an unearned run in six innings of a no-decision.
Wilmington continues its seven-game homestand on Tuesday at Frawley Stadium as the Rocks the take on Winston-Salem again. Right-hander Jackson Kowar (1-0, 1.80) gets the ball for the Rocks, while the Dash counters with former Blue Rock Kyle Kubat. First pitch is slated for 6:35 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:
Monday marked the third time the Blue Crew bullpen has made a spot start in 2019. During those outings Wilmington's substitute starters have allowed just two total runs in 14 combined innings. J.C. Cloney made his second start of the season on Monday. The lefty held Winston-Salem scoreless over 5.2 frames. He also started game two of a doubleheader on April 6 and yielded just one run in five innings to earn a victory over Salem. Rito Lugo was the other usual reliever to make a start this year. He got the ball at Carolina on April 14 and kept the Mudcats off the board during his 3.1 frames on the mound.
The Blue Crew have not been able to buy a big hit over the last four games. Wilmington has gone just 2-for-32 with runners in scoring position since Saturday. On the year the Rocks are hitting only .160 with men at second and/or third base. Overall, the struggling Rocks' offense is last in the Carolina League in hits, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 2019. Wilmington has not scored more than four runs in a game since April 15.
The Blue Rocks continue to struggle defensively in 2019. Wilmington committed an error for the sixth consecutive game. The Blue Crew is last in the Carolina League with 28 total errors as a team. The team has committed at least three errors in five different games and at least one defensive miscue in all but four games on the year.
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 dropped a four-game series at home against Down East and are in the midst of welcoming the Dash back to Frawley Stadium for three more. Wilmington is currently 10-5 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.