August 30, 2007 - Carolina League (CarL) - Wilmington Blue Rocks
Wilmington, DE - Not even the Carolina League\'s Pitcher of the Year could punch Wilmington's playoff ticket, as the Blue Rocks suffered a 3-2 defeat to the Salem Avalanche at Frawley Stadium on Thursday night. The setback is the second in a row for the Blue Rocks, who had previously won seven straight and 12 of 13. In tandem with Potomac's victory over Lynchburg, the Rocks' magic number to clinch the Northern Division's second-half crown remains at one.
Entering the night as the league leader in wins, ERA, and innings pitched, Rowdy Hardy (15-5) allowed ten hits and three runs over eight innings. The 24-year-old southpaw, who earlier in the day became the third Blue Rock hurler in the team's 15-year history to grab Pitcher of the Year honors, allowed double-digit base hits for just the second time in 26 outings.
With a 2-2 game in the eighth, Hardy recorded his first and only strikeout of the game by fanning Tim Torres to begin the frame. But, Billy Hart, who went 3-for-4 on the night, looped a double to right field and scored the go-ahead run two batters later when Pat Osborn doubled deep into the right-center field alley.
Raymar Diaz, who snuffed out a first-and-third, two-out Wilmington threat in the bottom of the eight, struck out the side in the ninth to notch his second save.
Wilmington used three consecutive two-out hits against Salem starter Sergio Perez in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. The latter of the three knocks was a run-scoring double by Chris McConnell, who extended his hitting streak to seven games in the process.
After the Avs plated single runs in the third and the fourth to jump ahead 2-1, the Blue Rocks tied the game on Marc Maddox's sac fly in the fifth.
With the game still tied in the sixth, Wilmington had runners at the corners with two outs, but Perez got Kiel Thibault on a foul-out to third base.
The Rocks stranded seven runners and went 1-for-5 with men in scoring position on the night.
Salem's Chris Salamida (8-8), a converted starter, layed down 1.2 scoreless innings of relief to earn the win. He set down the side in order in the seventh and departed in the eighth with two on and two out.
The Blue Rocks look to kill two birds with one stone on Friday night, as they attempt to clinch a playoff berth and also forge a split of their four-game set with Salem. Wilmington's All-Star right-hander Julio Pimentel (11-4, 2.78) is slated to square off with Avalanche lefty Polin Trinidad (1-0, 4.97) at 7:05 p.m.
Potomac\'s 3-2 victory over Lynchburg was its 10th straight. Friday will mark the third consecutive day that Wilmington\'s magic number is stalled at one. A Blue Rock victory or a Nationals loss will clinch the Northern Division second-half title for Wilmington. If the Rocks should lose their last four games and Potomac win their last four, the two clubs would end the season in a first-place tie. In that event, the teams would play a one-game playoff at Frawley Stadium on Tuesday, September 4 to determine the second-half champion.
Rowdy Hardy joins Bart Evans (1994) and Zack Greinke (2003) as the only hurlers in Blue Rocks history to earn the league\'s Pitcher of the Year award. In addition to his laundry list of league superlatives, the All-Star lefty established a new franchise mark for victories in a season when he snared his 15th victory back on August 19.
Joining Hardy on the Carolina League year-end All-Star team are third baseman Mario Lisson and center fielder Jose Duarte. Lisson, who is second on the Blue Rocks with 8 home runs and 60 RBIs, tied Frederick\'s Ryan Finan in voting for the utility infield spot on the squad. The 23-year-old had a franchise record 20-game hitting streak broken up just recently. Meanwhile, the speedy Duarte was selected as one of four outfielders. He entered the night tied for sixth in the loop in batting (.290) and is second with 81 runs scored. The 22-year-old leads the team and is tied for fourth in the circuit with 34 stolen bases. Votes by league managers, general managers, and media members determined the All-Stars.