Wilmington moves to three games over .500 for first time this season
WILMINGTON, DE – Wilmington starting pitcher Alec Mills fanned a season-high eight batters on Sunday afternoon, guiding the Blue Rocks to a 4-2 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats. The Rocks improve to 16-13 overall, while the Hillcats drop to 10-21. Logan Moon produced a pair of RBIs for the Blue Crew, and Cam Gallagher returned from the disabled list to give the Rocks a couple hits himself.
Mills recorded his longest outing of the season on Sunday. The righty tossed six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out eight. Lynchburg starting pitcher Luis Lugo labored through three-plus frames, yielding three runs (two earned) and seven hits, fanning five.
The Blue Rocks jumped in front early thanks to a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Ramon Torres led off the frame with a single, then Jack Lopez bunted for a hit, and on the play, Torres advanced to third base on an error by first baseman Nellie Rodriguez. After a Mauricio Ramos strike out, Zane Evans hit a line drive that third baseman Paul Hendrix could not field cleanly, which allowed Torres to score and Lopez to advance to second. Frank Schwindel would follow with a single that scored Lopez, making it 2-0 Wilmington.
The Blue Crew added to their lead in the home half of the fourth inning. Dominique Taylor smacked a double to open up the frame, then Gallagher singled to put runners on the corners. That base knock chased Lugo, and with D.J. Brown into the game, Moon greeted him with an infield single that brought Taylor home. Brown would induce a pop out and a double play to escape the inning without further damage.
Lynchburg finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth inning with a pair of runs. Ivan Castillo started the frame with a triple, his second in as many days. The very next batter, Clint Frazier produced a sacrifice fly that brought the score to 3-1. Bradley Zimmer would follow with a strikeout, and then Nellie Rodriguez crushed a solo home run to pull the Hillcats to within a run at 3-2.
The Rocks responded with another run of their own in the bottom of the inning. After two ground outs to start the frame, Gallagher roped a double, and Moon came through with a single that plated Gallagher and stretched the Wilmington lead to 4-2.
The Rocks and Hillcats conclude their four-game series on Monday, when they battle at Frawley Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m., and fans can listen to the broadcast on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
For the second game in a row, the Blue Rocks pitching staff struck out at least 12 batters. On Saturday, Wilmington hurlers fanned 12 men, with seven coming from starting pitcher Luke Farrell, and five from piggybacker Cody Reed. Nick Green got one out in the game yesterday, and did not record a strikeout. On Sunday afternoon, starting pitcher Alec Mills fanned eight men, while Matt Alvarez got five Hillcats on strikes, and Estarlin Cordero struck out 2 for a total of 15 batters. Entering Sunday, Rocks pitchers led the Carolina League in strikeouts with 225.
Cam Gallagher returned from the disabled list on Sunday after being placed on the 7-day DL on May 1. Gallagher had a good return to the field, as he went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Before his trip to the disabled list, Gallagher was batting .200 in 17 games with a double and two RBIs. Wilmington made another roster move on Sunday, as they sent Kenny Diekroeger to Triple-A Omaha. Through 12 games this season, Diekroeger was batting .235 with a double and two RBIs.
Blue Rocks starter Alec Mills gave Wilmington his longest start of the season on Sunday, tossing six innings against the Hillcats. The previous season-long for Mills came in his first start of the season, which was on April 11 against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Mills did not factor into the decision that day, while allowing a run on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts. That start was also the first and only time Mills has appeared in a contest on the road this season, with his last five starts coming at Frawley Stadium.
Zane Evans currently finds himself in a bit of a slump. With an 0-for-4 performance on Sunday afternoon, the second year Blue Rock is now hitless in his last 13 at-bats. His last knock came on May 7 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Potomac Nationals. Evans appears to be very comfortable hitting on the road, as he is batting .341 in 11 games away from Frawley Stadium, including three of his four home runs. He is only batting .224 in 16 games at home this season.
THEY SAID IT:
Manager Brian Buchanan:
“[Estarlin Cordero] has been doing a great job. His last outing, he kind of sprayed it around a little bit, but today he got right back in it. He was a little bit more under control. He’s got good stuff and he’s very deceptive.”
“[Matt Alvarez] was throwing his split and he was keeping the ball down and just making his pitches when he needed to. He didn’t reach out and elevate it. He did a really nice job.”
“I think in the sixth [Alec Mill’s] pitch count was getting up there a bit. He made a couple of bad pitches here and there, but for the most part he did a really good job. We need to pitch off our fastballs, so that’s one thing he needs to do. When he’s on he’s got a really good changeup and a curveball. If he can pitch off his fastball, which I think he did today, He can have success.”
“[Cam Gallagher] did a nice job. On that stolen base the guy got a pretty good jump. It’s not just the catchers, we’ve got to do a better job of holding them on. It’s good to have him back in the lineup and handling the staff.”
“[Logan Moon] has been swinging the bat well. He had a couple of hits today and a couple of RBIs [the last few days]. That was some nice insurance in the [sixth inning]. He’s been doing a nice job.”
“[Mauricio Ramos] will be fine. Last year, I think the first half he didn’t hit one homerun. In the second half, I think he ended up with seven. These guys need to learn how to hit. They need to stay with the same approach and the extra-base hits will come.”
“We’ve got all righties, it’s just the way the rotation has been. It’s nice for them to get some at-bats against a left-handed pitcher.”
Catcher Cam Gallagher:
“I was just trying to get my feet under me the first couple of innings. They got me right in there with that first foul ball in the first inning. It was nice to get that out of the way and just get back to the routine of the game.”
“It was a back spasm. It was kind of a weird, freak accident. I was running down the first-base line and I got back up to throw on a groundball and just kind of landed awkwardly and pain shot up my whole back. It was pretty painful, but thank God it’s over.”
“No [I wasn’t working on batting while injured]. That actually probably hurt the most. I wasn’t doing much swinging because it has a lot to do with the lower back. First three at-bats today I was trying to not do too much, just trying to put the bat on the ball and let the pitcher dictate [the at-bat]. Just wanted to barrel it up and see where it goes.”
“Last year, I think I threw 40 percent out… This year I’ve been a little bit inconsistent on my throws. Some of the runners are stealing on the pitchers, but it’s not too big of a problem. It’s something we’ll work on…but they’ll get better.”
“Mills was throwing a lot of strikes. His slider was really good today. His curveball was getting over [a lot more]. Overall, he was throwing a lot of strikes down in the zone and [you’ll usually have a good outing] when you do that. [Alvarez] was a lot better today. He was getting ahead of hitters and, kind of like Mills, once you get ahead, a lot better things can happen than when you fall behind. [Cordero] keeps the ball down and throws a lot of strikes. He’s nasty from lefties and righties. Like I said, when you get ahead a lot of good things are going to happen.”