Wilmington, DE - The Wilmington Blue Rocks could not hold an early lead as they dropped a 3-1 decision to the Fayetteville Woodpeckers in Game One of the Mills Cup Championship Series on Tuesday at Frawley Stadium. Wilmington trails the best-of-five series 1-0 in its bid to capture the franchise's first Carolina League crown in two decades.
After tossing three scoreless innings to start his outing, Fayetteville finally got to Rocks southpaw Daniel Lynch in the fourth. A one-out walk to Chandler Taylor was followed by David Hensley lifting a 2-2 pitch out to left for a two-run homer.
Lynch struggled with command, but battled his way through five frames. The 22-year-old walked four, but yielded just the two scores on four hits and fanned seven in a losing effort.
A little two-out magic, coupled with aggressive baserunning, led to the game's first run for Wilmington in the third. With two down and the bases empty, Kyle Isbel sent a single into shallow right. He then went from first to third on Brewer Hicklen's seeing-eye single to left. That set the stage for a double-steal. Hicklen took off for second, while Isbel dashed home on the throw to try and nab Hicklen.
Unfortunately for the home team, that was all the Rocks could muster. Wilmington managed just four hits, with only Isbel and Delaware native Tyler Hill reaching base twice on the night. The Blue Crew went hitless with runners in scoring position and stranded eight men on base.
Their best chance to tie the game came in the seventh. MJ Melendez opened the frame with a walk and then advanced to second on an errant pickoff toss by Fayetteville reliever Cody Deason. Melendez went to third on a fly ball from Kyle Kasser and Cristian Perez followed with a walk to put runners at the corners with only one out. The Woodpeckers brought the infield in, and it worked when Melendez was thrown out at the plate on Michael Gigliotti's grounder to first. Deason fanned Isbel to escape the inning unscathed.
Fayetteville got an insurance run in the top of the ninth courtesy of a Marty Costes single to center.
The Blue Crew got the potential tying-run to the plate in the ninth against Humberto Castellanos, but the righty whiffed Perez to nail down the save.
Woodpeckers starter Parker Mushinski held the Rocks to just a single score on three hits while registering eight strikeouts over five innings to get the win.
Wilmington will host Game Two of the Mills Cup Championship Series on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. Right-hander Jonathan Bowlan gets the start for the Rocks, while the Woodpeckers counter with righty Austin Hansen. Tickets are available at BlueRocks.com and fans who cannot make it to Frawley Stadium can catch all of the action with the Voice of the Blue Rocks, Cory Nidoh on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.