Zebulon, N.C. -- The Wilmington Blue Rocks bounced back from Thursday's heart-breaking loss with a doubleheader sweep of the Carolina Mudcats on Saturday. The Blue Crew took the opener, 3-2, and then the nightcap, 6-0. Wilmington has now won seven of its last eight games.
Daniel Tillo took a no-hitter into the final frame of game two. His bid for the Blue Rocks' first no-hitter since Brian Sanches in 2000 came up just three outs short when Payton Henry slapped a liner that ricocheted off the glove of third baseman Angelo Castellano . Tillo settled for a complete game, two-hit shutout. It was the Rocks first blanking of an opponent since August 30 of last year.
Seuly Matias carried the offense with a triple, a homer, two RBI and two runs scored. Castellano added three RBI and Blake Perkins set the table by drawing three walks.
The Rocks erased an early 1-0 deficit in the opener. Wilmington got a two-run triple from Kyle Isbel in the third inning and Perkins added an RBI-single in the fifth.
The pitching staff did the rest.
Jackson Kowar took a no-decision despite fanning six and allowing only a single score. He lasted just 4.1 innings, however, thanks to 88 pitches. Daniel Duarte got the win by tossing a scoreless inning and then Tad Ratliff retired the game's final five batters to nail down his third save in as many tries.
Wilmington wraps up its first road series of the season on Sunday at Carolina. Right-hander Nolan Watson (0-0, 0.00) takes the mound for the Rocks, while Carolina counters with righty Christian Taugner (1-0, 1.50). First pitch is slated for 2 p.m. and fans 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:
The Blue Crew bullpen has allowed just three earned runs over its last 27.2 innings of work. During that span they have earned four wins and converted all five save opportunities. On Saturday Daniel Duarte tossed a scoreless frame to get the win in game one and Tad Ratliff earned his third save thanks to 1.2 scoreless innings. The relief corps got to watch the nightcap as Daniel Tillo tossed the Rocks' first complete game shutout since Scott Blewett on July 2, 2017. Tillo was three outs shy of becoming the first Wilmington pitcher to hold an opponent without a hit since Brian Sanches tossed a no-no against Lynchburg on May 2, 2000 at Frawley Stadium.
Prior to the eighth inning on Thursday Wilmington had hit just one home run total in the first 67 frames of the season. The Rocks hit two long balls that inning and added another in the top of the seventh on Saturday. Wilmington went from dead-last in the 10-team Carolina League to tied for fifth in homers.
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 are in the thick of a four-game set at Carolina. After that the Rocks travel to Winston-Salem for three, play a four-game series at home against the Down East Wood Ducks and then welcome the Dash back to Frawley Stadium for three more. The Rocks are currently 5-1 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.