Zebulon, NC -The Wilmington Blue Rocks erased a four-run deficit on Thursday and took a two-tally advantage into the bottom of the ninth inning. But that's when the Carolina Mudcats got a three-run homer from Dallas Carroll to hand the Blue Crew a 7-6 walk-off loss at Five County Stadium. The setback ended Wilmington's season-high five-game winning streak and was the team's first walk-off defeat since last August at Winston-Salem.
The Mudcats got the potential winning run to the plate in the ninth inning without getting a ball out of the infield. Eddie Silva opened the frame with an infield single. Zach Clark then reached on a fielding error by first baseman Nick Pratto . That cracked the door ajar for Dallas Carroll's home run heroics off of reliever J.C. Cloney (1-1), which sent the crowd home happy.
It was a sharp turn of events after Wilmington had scored six unanswered runs to take the lead. Sebastian Rivero keyed the rally, going 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBI. It was his two-out single in the ninth that gave the Rocks their first lead of the night. He also hit a solo home run in the eighth that pulled the Rocks within a run. With two outs in the inning, Ricky Aracena launched a long ball in the frame to tie the game at 4-4. Prior to the inning Wilmington had hit just one home run total in the first 67 innings of the season.
Carolina jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage thanks to some sloppy defense. With one out and the bases empty in the third inning of a scoreless tie, Dennicher Carrasco booted a grounder to third. That miscue allowed Devin Hairston to reach and the proverbial flood gates to open. Carolina would score four unearned runs in the frame courtesy of RBI hits from Ryan Aguilar and Payton Henry and a swipe of home by Joantgel Segovia on the back end of a double steal.
Blue Rocks Starter Brady Singer did not allow an earned run over 4.1 frames. The right-handed prospect did walk three, but also fanned a career-high seven in 4.1 innings. Cloney held Carolina scoreless for the next 3.2 frames before being saddled with the walk-off defeat.
Wilmington continues its seven-game road trip on Friday at Carolina. Right-hander Jackson Kowar (0-0, 0.00) takes the mound for the Rocks, while Carolina counters with righty Noah Zavolas (1-0, 1.80). First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. and fans can catch all the action on 89.7 WGLS-FM or BlueRocks.com.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
The Blue Rocks have gotten off to a rough start defensively in 2019. Wilmington committed a season-high four errors in Thursday's loss. It was those mistakes that were the difference in the game, as five of Carolina's seven runs were unearned. Thursday marked the third time in eight games the Blue Crew have committed at least three defensive miscues. Wilmington has now committed an error in all but one game this year and leads the Carolina League with 16 total defensive blemishes.
The Blue Crew bullpen had allowed just one earned run in its previous 25.2 innings before Dallas Carroll's walk-off home run on Thursday. During that stretch the Rocks' relief corps had struck out 27 and walked four. Those numbers don't even include the spot start from regular reliever J.C. Cloney, who allowed just one run in five frames during the backend of a doubleheader with Salem. Cloney's win may have counted on the rotation's ledger, but his loss on Thursday was the first of the season by Wilmington's 'pen.
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 3-1 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.