G-Rod Spins Another Gem, 'Birds Take Split
LAKEWOOD, NJ - Grayson Rodriguez returned to peak form in his final tune-up before the postseason, and the Delmarva Shorebirds salvaged a split against the Lakewood BlueClaws, winning 3-1 on Thursday night at FirstEnergy Park.
Rodriguez (10-4) dominated in his longest start in three months for the Shorebirds (40-25, 88-46), allowing just an unearned run over six no-hit innings with one walk and seven strikeouts. The Orioles' No. 2 prospect and South Atlantic League's Most Outstanding MLB Prospect finished his regular season with a 2.68 ERA and 129 strikeouts over 94 innings (12.35 K/9) as he became just the sixth pitcher in the SAL to reach double-digit victories.
Tom Sutera (1-3) took the loss for the BlueClaws (28-36, 57-77), giving up three runs on three hits in four innings with three walks and four strikeouts. Nick Vespi picked up his first save of the year with two perfect innings to finish it off.
After getting shut out the night before, the Shorebirds waited until just the second inning to get on the board. Toby Welk led off with a single, and Shayne Fontana worked a seven-pitch walk to put two on. Ryne Ogren hit into a fielder's choice to get Welk up to third, then after a strikeout Cody Roberts pelted a deep liner to right center for a double, scoring Welk and Ogren to put Delmarva on top 2-0.
Lakewood got some help from a Shorebird error in the third. Seth Lancaster led off with a walk, and Juan Aparicio hit a fielder's choice grounder to third that Welk threw into right field, allowing Lancaster to take third. Malvin Matos then lifted a sac fly to deep left to get the run home and cut it to 2-1 Delmarva.
The Shorebirds wasted no time getting that run back in the fourth. Fontana drew another walk to lead off, then Ogren executed a perfect hit-and-run single to right to move Fontana to third. Seamus Curran hit into a run-scoring double play, plating Fontana to make it 3-1 Shorebirds.
After the error in the third, Rodriguez retired the final 12 batters he faced in a row, finishing off his third Quality Start of the season. It was the first time since May 27 that Rodriguez pitched beyond five innings.
The BlueClaws threatened to spoil Rodriguez's night in the seventh. Luis Garcia parked a shallow liner in left for a one-out single, Lakewood's first hit of the night. Ben Pelletier followed with a single to move Garcia to third, and Hunter Stovall walked to load the bases. Delmarva reliever Felix Bautista buckled down, though, getting Lancaster to fly out to shallow right and Aparicio to tap out softly to second, stranding all three on base.
Vespi took the baton in the eighth and mowed down all six batters he faced, fanning three to get his season strikeout total to 99.
Roberts went 1-for-3 with the two-run double, one of just three Shorebird hits on the night. Welk extended his hitting streak to six games since joining the Shorebirds on Saturday.
The BlueClaws managed just two singles, the Garcia and Pelletier knocks in the seventh.
The Shorebirds capped their road slate for the year at 44-24. Delmarva now stands two wins shy of becoming the first 90-win team in the SAL since the 2006 Augusta GreenJackets, who went 92-47.
With Hickory's 5-1 win in Columbia, the Crawdads clinched a playoff berth, setting up a matchup with the Shorebirds in the Northern Division Championship Series beginning on Wednesday night at L.P. Frans Stadium in Hickory.
The Shorebirds now return home for the final four games of the regular season, beginning on Friday night against the Kannapolis Intimidators. Ryan Wilson (6-4, 2.57) makes his last start for Delmarva against Kannapolis' Davis Martin (8-9, 5.06). First pitch is at Perdue Stadium is set for 7:05 p.m. with gates opening at 6:00. Friday night is the second annual Scrapple Night at Perdue Stadium: the Shorebirds will wear Delmarva Scrapple jerseys, which they will auction off after the game, and the first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a Delmarva Scrapple t-shirt. It's also Froggy 99.9 Big Beer Friday presented by First Class HVAC. 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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