Wilmington, DE- Blue Rocks catcher MJ Melendez blasted a two-run walk-off homer on Tuesday as Wilmington split a doubleheader with the Frederick Keys at Frawley Stadium. The Blue Crew dropped the opener 4-1 before winning 2-0 in the nightcap. The home run was only the second of the season at home for Wilmington and its first in the First State since Opening Night.
Dennicher Carrasco got the final frame started in a scoreless tie with his single to center. That set the scene for Melendez, who broke up the pitchers' duel with his heroic blast to dead-center. Neither team managed a hit with a runner in scoring position all game and both mustered just three knocks total in the contest.
Rito Lugo made his first start of the year for Wilmington and was brilliant. The righty tossed five scoreless frames, yielding only three hits, with four strikeouts and no walks. He took a no-decision, however, as Frederick starter Cody Sedlock countered with four scoreless innings. Tyler Zuber did not allow a baserunner over two framess to get the win for Wilmington, while Brenan Hanifee yielded the walk-off long ball and was shouldered with the loss.
A four-run fourth inning doomed the Blue Crew in game one. Frederick got to starter Daniel Tillo for all of the runs. The lefty walked a pair and yielded RBI-hits to Jean Carillo and Yeltsin Gudino in the frame. He also surrendered a suicide squeeze bunt to Cody Billingsley which scored another run. Tillo (3-3) departed with a runner on second base and two down in the inning. That runner eventually scored against reliever Holden Capps, courtesy of a seeing-eye single from Austin Hayes.
Wilmington got its only tally thanks to a safety squeeze bunt from Brewer Hicklen that plated Ricky Aracena. That was it though, as the Blue Crew could produce just three hits for the game. Michael Baumann got the win by allowing only one run on two hits with six strikeouts over five innings. Travis Seabrooke fanned a pair in a one-two-three final inning to nail down his first save.
The Rocks continue their homestand with a 10:35 a.m. school kids' special on Wednesday against the Keys. Lefty Daniel Lynch gets the ball for Wilmington. Tickets are available at BlueRocks.com and fans that don't make it to the ballpark can catch all the action with the Voice of the Blue Rocks Cory Nidoh on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
The Rocks have had to deal with Mother Nature quite a bit over the first six weeks of the 2019 campaign. Wilmington has had six games rained out this year. Tuesday marked the Blue Crew's fourth doubleheader of the season, with another coming this weekend at Potomac. The Rocks earned their second doubleheader split of the year and are now 4-4 in twin bill games on the season. Wilmington also had a game against the Mudcats canceled due to wet weather last week and consequently will play only 139 total games and 69 first-half contests in 2019.
The Wilmington Blue Rocks went 11 months between walk-off wins, but already have two over the first six weeks of the 2019 season. Entering the campaign the Blue Crew's last walk-off win came in May of 2018, but the Rocks got one on April 9 against Winston-Salem and another on Tuesday. The Blue Crew also managed their third shutout of the year and second already in the month of May alone. It also marked the first time this year Wilmington held an opponent other than Carolina off the scoreboard (the Mudcats were blanked by the Blue Crew on April 13 and May 4).
Despite spending two-thirds of the season atop the Carolina League North standings, the Wilmington offense continues to be a work in progress this season. The Rocks managed just six hits total during Tuesday's doubleheader and have produced five knocks or fewer in six straight contests and 18 times overall in 2019. The Rocks also went hitless with runners in scoring position and have just 11 total knocks with men at second and/or third base in their last 14 games. Overall the Blue Crew attack is last in the Carolina League with a collective .194 batting average. Wilmington is also last in the loop in on-base percentage, runs, hits and extra-base knocks.
Wilmington has had an odd schedule to start the 2019 season. Wilmington opened the campaign with a series against Salem and then played 17 consecutive games against CL South opponents. The Rocks went 9-8 during that stretch. The Blue Crew are now in the midst of playing 24 out of 27 against the CL North. The Rocks are 10-6 so far during this divisional-heavy portion of the slate and 10-8 on the year against CL North foes.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.