Early Offense Paces Rocks To A Series Opening Win

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blue rocks

Yender Caramo And Luis Rico Combine To Allow Just One Run

 

WILMINGTON, DE – The Blue Rocks were able to bounce back from a series finale loss to Winston-Salem on Thursday night by opening their Memorial Day weekend series with the Carolina Mudcats with a 3-1 win on Friday. Yender Caramo and Luis Rico, the only remaining piggyback combination for the Rocks, combined to go nine innings while holding the Mudcats to just the one run. Caramo got his second win and Rico recorded the first of his season, the second of his career.

After a shutout at the hands of the Dash on Thursday, the Rocks were looking for some offensive production. While they did not get the slugfest they were hoping for the, the Rocks finally excelled at situational hitting on Friday. In the first inning inning, Ramon Torres led of the game by using his speed to get on base. He hit a groundball to Johan Camargo at short, but it was well placed as Camargo could not field and toss over to first in time to get the Rocks’ leadoff hitter. With Torres at first, catcher Jose Briceno wanted to keep him close to the bag so he threw a pickoff attempt down after a pitch to Jack Lopez, but Briceno threw it wildly allowing Torres to move up two bases on the throwing error. With the runner at third an no outs, Lopez did his job and drove Torres in with a groundout to make it 1-0 Rocks.

After Carolina tied the game in the second inning, Wilmington jumped right back out in front in the third. Three straight singles to start the frame by Santiago Nessy, Daniel Rockett, and Torres loaded the bases for Lopez. Nessy’s single was his first as a Blue Rock and Torres’ was another infield single, this one of the bunting variety. Lopez had another chance at an RBI, but instead he grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Nessy scored from third, but Lopez was not credited with another RBI. The Rocks then needed a hit to score Rockett from third, and it was Mauricio Ramos coming through with the clutch knock, a groundball through the left side of the infield to score Rockett and make it 3-1.

The Mudcats did get to Caramo in the second inning to tie the game at one. Caramo grazed Connor Lien with a pitch to put him at first base with one out. For the second night in a row, the opposing team executed a perfect hit-and-run as Johan Camargo chopped a single through the vacated hole on the right side of the infield to send Lien to third. Reed Harper then drove in his second run of the year with a sacrifice fly to Logan Moon in left field to knot the score at the time. Harper would later end a would-be Mudcats rally in the fourth as he grounded out with runners on first and second to end the inning.

The Rocks and Mudcats resume this series on Saturday night, another 7:05 p.m. affair from Frawley Stadium. Royals’ prospect Eric Skoglund will take the ball for Wilmington. Skoglund is coming off a 10-strikeout appearance against the Lynchburg Hillcats. Skoglund will be matched by Carolina’ Seth Webster. Webster will make his first Advanced-A appearance after making his professional debut at Low-A Rome where he went 0-1 in a single appearance, giving up six earned runs in five innings of work.

PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
After a loss on Thursday night to Winston-Salem, the Rocks got just the kind of bounce back they needed with a 3-1 win. The win was not just a bounce back for the Blue Rocks, however; it was also a bounce back for the piggyback combo of Rico and Caramo. Rico had probably his worst appearance of the season last time out against Lynchburg. Rico gave up four runs in just 4.2 innings pitched before handing it off to the bullpen. Caramo came in to reliever the lefty Rico, and Caramo pitched his shortest outing of the season since opening night against the Pelicans when he went just one inning in relief of Jakob Junis. Caramo picked up his second win of the season and a season-high five strikeouts. Rico bounced back getting a save while not giving up a run in three innings of relief.

Daniel Rockett had a nice night at the dish as he collected a hit and two walks. Rockett did not record an out in the game and scored a run on the Ramos RBI single. There is no doubt that Rockett needed a big offensive game more than anybody else on this Rocks team. Coming into Friday’s series opener, the second-year Blue Rock was hitting well under the Mendoza-line, having collected just 11 hits all season. The 1-for-1 performance was a big boost to his batting average and on-base percentage. Rockett lifted his average .010 points to .148, and his OBP is now up to .255. Rockett now has 12 hits in 81 at-bats including a homerun, four doubles, a triple, and six RBIs.

Santiago Nessy became a true Blue Rock on Friday as he collected his first hit in front of the Frawley Faithful. Nessy had been 0-for-7 coming into the series opener against Carolina. Nessy was called-down to Wilmington after hitting just .185 in 17 games with Double-A Northwest Arkansas. Despite not quite getting his legs fully under him at the plate yet in 2015, Nessy has handled this Rocks’ pitching staff very well so far. In the three games he’s caught, Rocks pitchers have allowed just three earned runs in 27.0 innings (1.00 ERA). All three games Nessy has caught have been season-high strikeout performances by the respective pitchers. Eric Skoglund struck out 10 in Nessy’s first game on May 16, Cody Reed struck out a team-leading 11 on May 20, and tonight Yender Caramo recorded a season-high five punch-outs while throwing to Nessy.

The Rocks have been like a broken record this season when it comes to double plays. Despite the win on Friday, the Rocks spoiled several opportunities to rip the game wide-open as they hit into three twin-killings against Carolina. Those three double plays brought the Rocks league-leading total up to 46. Not only do the Rocks lead the Carolina League in double plays, but they lead the rest of the league by a wide margin. Those 46 double plays are 27 more than the Salem Red Sox, who currently have the lowest total of any team in the CL.

THEY SAID IT:
Manager Brian Buchanan
“(The pitching) is keeping us in all the games. We’re not scoring a whole lot of runs, we’re playing a whole lot of close games. The pitching staff is giving us a chance to win these games. We scratch and claw and out some runs across, and (the hitters) battle with two outs. We had another two-out RBI tonight. The pitching has been phenomenal.”

“I think they got three infield singles off of (Yender Caramo), and then a sacrifice fly, he hit a couple guys. He threw the ball well. He kept the ball down for the most part…He’s a ground ball pitcher, and we got an awful lot of ground balls tonight.”

“The defense was great tonight. (The Mudcats) put the ball in play…For the most part (our defense) made all the routine plays, and then we made some plays that were out of the ordinary, so that’s what you need to win those close games.”

“The infield was back (on Jack Lopez’s RBI ground out), he hit the ball up the middle, (and) we got our first run. We got one run with the bases loaded on a double play, but (Mauricio) Ramos came up with a two-out RBI. That’s kind of how it’s been all year. We’re struggling a little bit with the bases loaded…we can put some teams down, I think, if we got some more hits with the bases loaded…We’re just scratching and clawing, the guys are battling, and that’s what you need to do to win those close games.”

“I didn’t give (Ramon Torres) a bunt (sign in the third inning). Those guys (are) intelligent baseball players when it comes to that stuff. Whenever there’s that situation, we tell them ‘you can go ahead and try and bunt for a base hit’, and if it doesn’t work, at least we got a guy on second and third. He’s an outstanding bunter, so guys like that, if they’re up there and they see the situation, they’ll do it.”

“You win a lot of games (with) pitching and defense, and we’ve been doing it since day one. It’s always nice to score more runs, but if the pitchers continue to do what they do, we’ll be in good shape. (Good) pitching is always going to beat good hitters.”
Starting Pitcher Yender Caramo (Translated by Jack Lopez)
“This is the kind of infield that every pitcher would like to have behind him. You go on the mound and let (the batters) hit the ball, and know the defense behind (you) is going to have your back and make every play.”

“Me being a sinker ball pitcher, it was really important getting both sides of the plate, inside and outside. Once I had the hitters on their toes, I could throw the changeup and the curveball for strikes and keep them off-balance.”

“(Pitching in a great rotation) is what I’m here for. When the other guys (are) doing a good job, I want to go out there and do the same thing and do the right job…for the team.”

“With that defense behind (me), I don’t really worry about runners being on base…I’m a ground-ball-type pitcher, and (if I get ground balls) I can get out of the inning.”

Shortstop Jack Lopez

“A couple (of games) we just tip our hats to our pitchers for keeping us in the game. They did the heck of a job. The good thing about (line drives) are that they are always kind of in the zone so either in the infield or the outfield if you are going to take one, take one and be prepared for whatever happens. Once the ball is in the zone you know the ball is going to be in play and be ready to get the out.”

“It is nice (playing behind a pitcher) at the end that doesn’t let up any walks. They may not strikeout too many (batters) as well. You know you are going to get a few groundballs throughout the game and that is the way we like to be, on the tips of our toes the whole game.”

“(We have versatility batting and) that is our type of baseball. We have a lot of people who can do a lot of things, we can bunt the ball and hit and run and it is nice to do some of that. That is our type of baseball and what we have to do to win ball games and that is how (we) are going to do them. Mauricio (Ramos) is swinging the bat real well, and that is good to have in the lineup. I know he is behind me and if I don’t get the guy in he will do it. Two out hits win ball games and fortunately we have been on the better side of the zone.”

“(Putting the ball in play) is what we practice every day. Infield back with a runner on third base. That is what I was trying to do in that at bat, thinking about (batting practice) and thinking about the way we practice and hitting the ball towards the middle of the diamond.”

“It is real fun (to play these close games) especially with these guys, we have real good chemistry. I know a lot of people come in here and are looking forward to seeing each other faces and that is the way the team should be.”

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