Wilmington, DE- The Wilmington Blue Rocks (67-67/28-36) were swept in a doubleheader against the visiting Down East Wood Ducks (58-76/34-31) by the scores of 2-0 and 4-2 Wednesday night at Frawley Stadium. The first game featured a great pitching duel between Blue Rocks' starter Jared Ruxer and Wood Ducks' lefty Wes Benjamin while the second game had the Blue Rocks jump to an early lead before the Wood Ducks flew in and grabbed the second game from the Rocks. With the pair of losses, Wilmington is now 4.5 games out of the Northern Division Wild Card race with just five games remaining.
The first game of the doubleheader, the Blue Rocks and Wood Ducks were in a pitching duel with Wilmington's starter Jared Ruxer and Down East's Wes Benjamin exchanging scoreless innings through five innings of work. However, the Wood Ducks, broke the scoreless stalemate in the top of the sixth inning. Josh Morgan led off the inning with a triple and came in to score on a Luis La O RBI single. Carlos Garay followed suit with a run-scoring base hit of his own to make it a 2-0 deficit for the Blue Rocks.
Wilmington looked poised to come back and tie the game in their half of the sixth inning. Nick Heath singled with one out, Wander Franco laced a two-out double to put the tying-runs in scoring position for the Rocks but Chris DeVito went down on strikes to end the threat and inning.
Ruxer suffered the tough-luck loss and lasted 5.2 innings, allowed the two runs and struck out a pair. Benjamin earned the win for Down East and worked six scoreless innings.
The Blue Rocks started off strong in the second game of the double dip. Wilmington struck single tallies in the first two innings with a two-out RBI single by DeVito before Colton Frabasilio ripped a two-out run-scoring double down the first base line to give the Blue Crew an early 2-0 lead.
Down East was able to solve lefty Cristian Castillo in the fourth inning. After the southpaw faced just one over the minimum through his first three innings, the Wood Ducks sent eight men to the plate in the top of the fourth inning with Garay, Ledarious Clark and Chuck Moorman responsible for driving in four runs in the frame to take a 4-2 lead over the Blue Rocks. Wilmington was unable to formulate in its final two innings and ultimately were swept in the doubleheader.
The Blue Rocks will conclude their three-game series with the Wood Ducks on Thursday, August 31. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. with LHP Colin Rodgers (2-6, 4.68 ERA) makes the start for Wilmington while RHP Steven Bruce (3-4, 5.91 ERA) takes the ball for Down East. Fans can listen game as Jack Keffer has the call in 89.7 WGLS-FM.
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Wander Franco has put together a tremendous campaign in 2017. Franco picked up a double in the first game of the doubleheader and now has 130 hits on the season. He surpassed his previous career-high of 128 hits set back in 2015 in Low-A Lexington on Sunday when he added two more hits in a 2-1 extra-inning win for the Rocks against Salem. His 130 hits pace the Blue Rocks, is good for top-five in the Carolina League and the most by a Blue Rock hitter since Clint Robinson also smacked 130 hits in 2009. Franco along with Roman Collins (106) have joined the Blue Rocks' single-season 100-hit club. Last season, Brandon Downes and Elier Hernandez each tallied 100 hits or more.
Wednesday was a special day for the visiting Down East Wood Ducks, and not just because they swept the doubleheader. The Wood Ducks visited Frawley Stadium for the first time this season, making it the first time since 2011 that a team from Kinston, N.C. has come to Wilmington. The last team to do that was the Kinston Indians back on July 31, 2011. In 2017, Down East and Wilmington squared off nine times before the Wood Ducks finally ventured north to Delaware for a three-game series.
Jecksson Flores continues to hit well entering the last home stand for Wilmington. The shortstop picked up two hits during the doubleheader, including his 14th double of the year. In the month of August, Flores has slugged 10 of those doubles and two of his three triples. On the road, the Venezuelan-native hit .280 (7-for-25) with four doubles, a triple, two walks, and three runs scored.
Wednesday's doubleheader was the ninth twin bill for the Rocks this season. In those games, the Rocks have swept three of them, split three, and lost three as well. Down East swept the Rocks on Wednesday at Frawley Stadium, making it the second time the Rocks have been swept during a twin bill at home. Before Wilmington left for their last road trip, they dropped a doubleheader to Myrtle Beach on August 19. Over the last two doubleheaders, the Rocks have struggled offensively, only scoring five runs over that span.
THEY SAID IT, JAMIE QUIRK:
"The first game I thought (Jared) Ruxer did a good job. He hit a bit of a wall in the sixth inning and got to him and they put the two runs up which was enough. We just continue in the whole month of August we haven't hit at all and we were shutout. There was nothing put together and no offense at all. In the second game I though (Cristian) Castillo was rolling obviously through the first three innings. He hit a wall there in the fourth inning and they got four quick runs on him. We couldn't score anything. We got the two runs early and got out of the gate nicely, but that was it. It's been the offense for the whole month of August. We continuously don't hit and that's been our problem, being able to score runs.
It was pitch location. (On Castillo getting in trouble in the fourth inning) All of his pitches were up. He was doing well, but all of a sudden the ball was getting up and (Down East) hit him hard and got four runs on him before we could get him out. Everything was fine before his pitches were missing up. He's a type of pitcher that has to keep the ball down and pitch off his changeup.
First of all, it's his health. (On Wander Franco's successful season). Last year we had to shut him down because he couldn't keep weight on and we didn't know why so he was shut down all of August last year. This year, he's keeping his stamina and it's been great for him. Him and Roman (Collins) are league leaders or close to it in games played and at-bats. That's very positive for Franco to keep his stamina, hitting .280 and one amongst league leaders in hits.
Well you sign up for 140 games and that's what we are going to play. (On expectations to stay positive despite having tough task at making the playoffs.) You find out who has got it in them. Some guys feel sorry and I am going to question some of them tomorrow. I think they quit a little bit when things don't go their way. Everybody else plays 140 games too. You sign up for it and play it and other teams are still going to try and get you out. If they continue to play like they're playing, they are going to ruin a good year that they were having. The other team doesn't care and want to get you out. You better be ready to punch back because there's still five games left."
25 Years of Blue Rocks Baseball
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