Wilmington, DE- The Wilmington Blue Rocks (36-42/5-3) shutout the Lynchburg Hillcats (33-43/5-4) by a score of 3-0 on Friday night at Frawley Stadium. Another pitcher's duel ended with Nolan Watson earning his first win as a Blue Rock as he tossed six-plus scoreless innings and wiggled in and out of some jams early inducing three double plays to help his cause. Gabriel Cancel provided key insurance runs with a mammoth two-run blast in the eighth inning for his fifth home run of the year.
The first run of the game went to Wilmington in the bottom of the first. With D.J. Burt on first, Cancel hit a line-drive down the right field line to move Burt to third. Justin Garza then threw a pitch in the dirt that rolled all the way to the backstop to allow Burt to score the first run of the game. Both teams had their bats kept quiet thanks to some outstanding pitching. Watson pitched a strong six and two-thirds innings giving up only three hits and five walks with no runs crossing the plate. Garza lasted six-plus innings as well for Lynchburg, but suffered the loss after along the run in the first inning.
The scoring was kept quiet until the bottom of the eighth. After a walk by Burt, Cancel hammered the first pitch of the at-bat over the bullpen fence in left for a two-run shot to give the Rocks some insurance and make it a 3-0 ballgame. Julio Pinto came in for the save in the bottom of the ninth. The Hillcats put a pair of runners on base to bring the tying-run to the plate before Pinto got Alexis Pantoja to ground out to second base to end the game.
The Blue Rocks begin a four-game series against the Winston-Salem Dash on Saturday, June 30 at Frawley Stadium. First pitch is slated for 6:05 p.m. with Wilmington sending lefty Daniel Tillo (2-1, 3.03 ERA) to the mound while Winston-Salem calls upon righty Blake Battenfield (1-0, 2.25 ERA) Fans can tune into the game with Matt Janus and Cory Nidoh on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
Over his last 16 games, Gabriel Cancel has been the most consistent run producer for the Blue Rocks. With his two-run home run in the eighth inning, he has driven 20 runs during that stretch. The infielder has seven multi-RBI games during that stretch and is the active team-leader in the category with 39. His fifth homer of the season puts him in second amongst active players on the team.
Nolan Watson made his home debut and shined, earning his first-career Advanced-A win. The former first-round pick allowed just three hits while not allowing a run through 6.2 innings of work. It was just the second start for Watson as a Blue Rock after being promoted from Low-A Lexington prior to the start of the second half. Corey Ray and Julio Pinto bridged the gap as the Rocks tossed their fourth shutout of the season. All of the prior shutout wins by the Rocks took place in April, with the most recent coming on April 29 against Winston-Salem.
With the win, the Blue Rocks took three of the five games in the series over the Lynchburg Hillcats. The Blue Rocks outscored the Hillcats, 29-24 during the five games and have won 9 of the first 12 games of the head-to-head matchup with all the games being playing in Wilmington. The Rocks and Hillcats will play each other in less than a week as the two teams have another five-game set at Lynchburg starting on July 4.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.