'Birds Get Mojo Back, Bash 'Claws
LAKEWOOD, NJ - The Delmarva Shorebirds rediscovered the form that has made them the best team in Minor League Baseball, crushing the Lakewood BlueClaws 7-0 on Tuesday night at FirstEnergy Park.
Gray Fenter (8-2) finished off his regular season with his strongest start yet for the Shorebirds (39-24, 87-45), mowing down a career-high 11 batters over five perfect innings. Victor Santos (5-10) took the loss for the BlueClaws (27-35, 56-76), surrendering four runs on four hits in 2.2 frames. Matthew Hammonds finished the job with a four-inning save, scattering three hits and a walk while striking out five to put the icing on Delmarva's 20th shutout win of the year.
After restarting the offensive engine late Monday night, the Shorebirds opened their scoring barrage in the top of the third. Cody Roberts singled with one out, then Nick Horvath hit into a fielder's choice. Adam Hall followed by legging out an infield hit, and Adley Rutschman walked to load the bases. Johnny Rizer attacked a first-pitch fastball and pounded a single into right, scoring Horvath and Hall to get the Shorebirds on the board at 2-0.
Toby Welk followed with an inside-out RBI base knock of his own to plate Rutschman and knock Santos out of the game. Gilmael Troya entered from the bullpen, and Shayne Fontana greeted him with a squeeze bunt up the third base line, scoring Rizer to put the Shorebirds up 4-0.
Hall singled to lead off the fifth and promptly stole second base. Rutschman battled Troya to work the count full, then on the ninth pitch of the at-bat Rutschman blasted a no-doubt two-run homer to right, his first with Delmarva and third of the season, to get the Shorebird lead to 6-0. Rutschman's moonshot was clocked at 105 mph off the bat and traveled 372 feet.
Rutschman, a former college kicker at Oregon State, helped the Shorebirds kick the extra point in the eighth. Seamus Curran singled to lead off, and Roberts drew a walk. Two batters later Hall got hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Rutschman lofted a flyball to left for a sac fly, scoring Curran to give the game its final 7-0 margin.
Fenter, whose season ERA dipped down to 1.81, was untouchable in his five innings and has now retired 27 batters in a row dating back to August 14. He struck out the side in the second and at one point fanned six in a row.
Delmarva banged out 13 hits on the night on the way to its seven runs. Fontana went 3-for-4 with a triple and the RBI squeeze bunt, while Rizer finished 2-for-5 with a double, run, and two RBIs. Hall provided a spark in the leadoff slot, going 2-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base on the way to his 43rd multi-hit game.
Rutschman finished 1-for-3 with the two-run homer, two runs, and three RBIs in his most productive day at the plate since joining the Shorebirds last week.
The BlueClaws got their first hit of the night in the sixth, a two-out infield hit for Yerwin Trejo to break up Delmarva's perfect game bid. Malvin Matos had the other two hits on the night for Lakewood, going 2-for-4.
The Shorebirds go for more of the same in their final game as Los Gallos de Delmarva on Wednesday night against the Medusas de Lakewood. Drew Rom (6-3, 3.09) takes his turn on the mound for Delmarva against Lakewood's Josh Hendrickson (0-1, 0.79). First pitch is 7:05 p.m., and pregame coverage on Fox Sports 960 AM and the MiLB First Pitch App begins at 6:50 with Will DeBoer and Sam Jellinek on the call.
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