Melendez Homer Leads to Doubleheader Sweep for Wilmington
Wilmington, DE - Offense was at a premium on Friday at Frawley Stadium as the Wilmington Blue Rocks and Salem Red Sox combined to score just four total runs over 15 innings as they split a doubleheader. Wilmington scored a 2-1 walk-off win in extras in game one while Salem responded with a 1-0 shutout in the nightcap. The Blue Crew ended the second-longest losing streak of their season at four, but have still dropped five of their last six.
MJ Melendez was the hero in the opener. With Wilmington trailing 1-0 entering the bottom of the eighth (doubleheaders are only slated to last seven innings) the 20-year-old catcher launched an 0-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a majestic two-run, walk-off homer. The Rocks entered the at bat down by just a single score thanks to a Houdini-esque escape from Josh Dye in the top of the frame. With men at first and third and no outs Dye got a caught stealing and two strikeouts to set the stage for Melendez.
In the nightcap it was a fluke mistake from the Blue Rocks backstop that led to the game's only run. With a man at first in a scoreless tie Melendez dropped the ball as he went to make a routine throw back to pitcher Austin Cox. It trickled away from him far enough to let Ryan Fitzgerald scamper to second base. That allowed him to score on Marcus Wilson's ensuing single to left.
Meanwhile the duo of Politi and Hunter Smith hooked up to shutout out the Wilmington offense. The Blue Crew managed just two hits and put together only one true threat, loading the bases on two walks and a hit-by-pitch in the sixth.
The Rocks continue their seven-game, six-day homestand on Saturday against Carolina. First pitch of the series-opener is slated for 6:05 p.m. Tickets are available at BlueRocks.com and fans who don't make it to the ballpark can catch all of the action with the Voice of the Blue Rocks, Cory Nidoh, on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
The Blue Crew just wrapped up of one of the strangest stretches they've encountered on a schedule in recent memory. Wilmington played back-to-back home-and-homes. The Rocks hosted Potomac for three and visited Potomac for a three-game series. They were supposed to play three at Salem before Mother Nature intervened on Sunday. A suspended game combined with a scheduled day-night doubleheader on Monday forced one of the contests to be moved to Wilmington. Fortunately for the schedule-makers the wait wasn't supposed to be long because the Rocks immediately welcomed the Red Sox to Frawley Stadium. However, a rainout of Thursday's twinbill forced a doubleheader on Friday and another doubleheader when Salem returns to the First State in August. After all that Wilmington went 4-7 during the stretch of 11 games versus two teams.
The Blue Rocks starting pitching was virtually untouchable on Friday. Kris Bubic and Austin Cox combined to hold Salem without an earned over 13 innings of work in the doubleheader. Bubic tossed seven scoreless, facing one over the minimum and fanning 10 while walking only one. Cox took a tough-luck loss despite yielding just an unearned tally and whiffing seven in six innings.
The Blue Rocks ended their second-longest losing streak of the season on Friday. Wednesday marked Wilmington's fourth consecutive defeat. The only longer slide this season came April 20-24 when Wilmington dropped six straight. Since then the Blue Crew had lost three in a row only twice.
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