Rocks score twice before recording first hit of contest
WILMINGTON, DE – The Blue Rocks stole home, drew a season-high seven walks, and eventually came away with a 5-3 victory over the Lynchburg Hillcats on Saturday evening. Wilmington improves to 15-13 with the victory, while Lynchburg drops to 10-20. Frank Schwindel hit his second home run of the season in the victory, which was one of only five hits Rocks hitters managed to collect in the contest.
The winning pitcher was Wilmington starter Luke Farrell. The righty went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out seven batters. Lynchburg starting pitcher Clayton Cook picked up the loss. Cook only tossed four innings for the Hillcats, giving up four runs on two hits and three walks, fanning two batters in the process.
The Hillcats didn’t waste any time getting on the board Saturday evening, scoring twice before the Rocks even got a chance to bat. Ivan Castillo tripled to welcome Farrell into the game, then after a Clint Frazier strike out, Bradley Zimmer drove Castillo in with a single. Nellie Rodriguez would follow with a base hit of his own that moved to Zimmer to third base, and then Alex Monsalve brought Zimmer home with a sac fly to give Lynchburg their second run of the frame.
Wilmington would pull even in the bottom of the second inning without the benefit of a hit. Schwindel was hit by a pitch leading off the frame, and two batters later, the Rocks got back-to-back walks from Logan Moon and Daniel Rockett. With the bases loaded and one out, Dexter Kjerstad grounded into a fielder’s choice that got the Rocks on the board, cutting the Lynchburg lead to 2-1. With Jack Lopez at the plate and runners at the corners, Wilmington pulled off a run-scoring double steal. Kjerstad stole second base, and Moon swiped home on the same play, tying the game at two.
The Blue Crew took the lead for the first time in the series in the bottom of the fourth inning. Schwindel led off with a solo homer, his second of the season. The long ball also marked the first hit of the game for the Blue Rocks. Later, with Moon on first and Kjerstad on third with two down, Kjerstad attempted to steal second base as Jack Lopez squared to bunt. Lopez missed, but the ball got away from the catcher Monsalve, allowing Moon to come home with the fourth run of the evening for the Rocks.
Cody Reed began the top of the sixth inning in relief of Farrell, and was greeted with a run by the Lynchburg offense. Monsalve walked with one out, and after moving up to second base thanks to a sacrifice bunt by Luigi Rodriguez, he would score on a double by Joe Sever to cut the Wilmington lead to 4-3. Reed would get Mike Papi to ground out to end the frame.
Wilmington would get one more run before the night was done. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Zane Evans and Schwindel grounded out to begin the frame, but just as they have all season long, the Rocks put together some two-out magic. Kenny Diekroeger singled with the bases empty and two down, and was brought in by a triple by Moon, pushing the Wilmington lead to 5-3, where it would stay the remainder of the contest.
The Blue Rocks and Hillcats will play game number three of their four game series on Sunday at Frawley Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m., and fans can listen to the broadcast on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
Saturday night marked the second time this season the Blue Rocks stole home. Logan Moon swiped the bag in the second inning as part of a double steal with Dexter Kjerstad. The previous theft of home plate came from Dominique Taylor against the Frederick Keys on April 25. Wilmington totaled four stolen bases on the game, which is especially impressive considering the Rocks had stolen the second-fewest bases in the league entering Saturday. The Rocks had swiped 17 bags coming into the game, and only the Carolina Mudcats had fewer thefts with nine.
Blue Rocks batters walked a grand total of seven times on Saturday, which matched their previous season-high. Wilmington drew seven free passes back on April 17 against the Frederick Keys, a game which the Blue Rocks lost 6-4. Wilmington was dead last in the Carolina League in walks drawn entering action tonight, with only 57 total this season. The next closest team in that category was the Salem Red Sox with 80.
In the bottom of the second inning on Saturday, Wilmington scored twice to finally end a long scoreless drought. The first run snapped their longest scoreless innings streak of the season, which reached 13.1 innings. The stretch began in the fifth inning of the second game of the Blue Rocks doubleheader Thursday against Potomac, and included the third shutout loss of the season for the Blue Crew on Friday.
Daniel Rockett got the start in center field on Saturday night, the first start at the position for him this season. Rockett got a single start in center field all of last season, and played a total of two games there in 2014. In his first professional season in 2013, Rockett started 54 games in center field as a member of the rookie level Idaho Falls Chukars. Until Saturday, Rockett had played 11 games in left field and seven in right field.
THEY SAID IT:
Manager Brian Buchanan:
“[Frank] Schwindel hit that big homerun, we got a run off that double steal, I think we scored our first two runs without a hit so that’s manufacturing runs when you can’t get a hit.”
“I told them that if they steal [second] and there’s a throw to try to go home [from third]. It worked; a low throw to second and he dropped it so it worked out. We always like to run and put pressure on the defense. That’s how Kansas City plays and that’s how we try to model all the affiliates. We try to bunt, run, hit-and-run; do all the little things that you do to win games because that’s how they do it up there.”
“[There is] no set role for [Kevin McCarthy]. We’ll get him in there, just like all the other guys, when he’s had a couple of days off. He’s going to be a bullpen guy and we’re going to use him when we need him.”
“[Benino Pruneda] has a good arm. He didn’t give up a run and he only gave up one hit in 7.1 [innings pitched]. He’s got a really good fastball and when his slider is on he’s unhittable. He didn’t pitch a whole lot here because of the way things are working out with the piggybacks. I would have loved to pitch him more but they had an injury up there. He’s 26 years old so they wanted to move him through the system as fast as they can.”
“I think the approach has been good. For the most part, they’ve swung the bats well. The walks will come. I think you have to learn how to see pitches and the more pitches you see you learn how to hit. It’s worth being patient and getting a pitch to hit. I’m not overly concerned about it.”
Outfielder Logan Moon:
“Me and [Abraham Nunez] have been working a lot. We talk about approach. I don’t think it’s more my swing but [the approach]. Some of it is also where I’m hitting the ball, where it’s falling or where it’s going. Sometimes you can’t control some of that.”
“I didn’t even know I didn’t have a triple. It’s still a [long] season, this is still just a little bit of it. I hadn’t even thought about what I’ve had and what I haven’t had yet. Now that you say something, yes it is nice to get [my first triple] out of the way.”
“[Brian] Bocock is really good at letting us know times, tendencies, things like that to look for [when stealing bases]. I’m looking on my own, but Bocock has definitely done a really good job of letting me know [tendencies]. I’m just trying to stay relaxed and not get too tense or antsy out there.”
“I don’t [prefer a particular outfield spot]. I’m just glad we’ve all been moving, which is nice because you never know what position you’ll get stuck at. It’s nice to get to play them all and never get [complacent]. I’ve never had too many games at one spot in a row. It’s nice to get moving.”
“[My fiancé] got here on [April] 29 and she looked [the stats] up the other day. It’s been nice. I don’t know what the numbers are, I don’t really care. She knows the numbers and I don’t. It’s nice to have a loved one, anytime someone is in town it just changes your feeling. You go 0-for, you go home and you don’t really think about it as much because you’re with someone that loves you. It’s nice to talk but not have to get on the phone.”