Rocks Shoo Pelicans Away in the Ninth
Myrtle Beach, S.C. - The Wilmington Blue Rocks (60-57 / 29-18) held on to a thrilling one-run victory and escaped a Myrtle Beach Pelicans' (51-66 / 17-30) ninth inning rally to earn a 5-4 victory Saturday night at TicketReturn.com Field. Oliver Nunez led the offense with three hits and stole three bases in the win. Wilmington maintains a 1.5 game lead over Lynchburg in the Northern Division Second Half playoff race.
The Blue Rocks took a seventh inning lead thanks to aggressive base running by Oliver Nunez. The second baseman started the inning with a single up the middle, stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Pelicans' catcher Jhonny Pereda. With Rudy Martin at the plate, reliever Manny Rondon uncorked a wild pitch to allow Nunez to score and put the Rocks up 5-4.
Myrtle Beach attempted a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against closer Julio Pinto. After a leadoff walk, Pinto induced a pop out for the first out of the inning. Jared Young singled to left to put runners at the corners before Andruw Monasterio hit a deep fly ball to left field to advance Zach Davis to third base. Pinto buckled down and struck out Roberto Caro looking to end the threat and the game.
Wilmington had to erase a first-inning deficit to start the game. The Pelicans struck for two runs against Wilmington's starter Andres Sotillet on an RBI groundout from Jared Young and sacrifice fly from Andruw Monasterio to put the Blue Crew behind 2-0. Wilmington authored a response in the top of the third inning. Travis Jones led the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a balk. Brewer Hicklen followed with a hit to put runners at the corners before Angelo Castellano put the Rocks on the board, 2-1. Nate Esposito followed with an infield single to score Hicklen from third before Nunez reached on a fielder's choice to bring home Castellano to put the Rocks out in front, 3-2.
The Blue Rocks added another run in the fifth on a D.J. Burt RBI groundout to make it 4-2. Myrtle Beach tied the game in the bottom of the frame with back-to-back RBI singles from Pereda and Jared Young to make it a 4-4 stalemate.
The Blue Rocks and Pelicans wrap up their series and head-to-head matchup on Sunday, August 12 with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Right-hander Ofreidy Gomez (4-9, 3.88 ERA) starts for the Blue Rocks while lefty Justin Steele (0-1, 3.38 ERA) starts for Myrtle Beach. Fans can listen to the game on 89.7 WGLS-FM as Cory Nidoh has the call.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
The Blue Rocks stole six bases in the game for the first time this season, surpassing their single-game season-high of five which they accomplished seven different times this season. Oliver Nunez led the running attack with three swiped bags while Brewer Hicklen stole a pair and Angelo Castellano stole one as well. The Blue Rocks added to their league lead in stolen bases with 153 on the season and have stolen 76 through 47 games in the second half.
Wilmington improved to 21-14 in one-run games and an impressive 44-1 when leading after eight innings. The Blue Rocks are now back to 11 games over .500 in the second half and three games above sea-level overall on the campaign after finishing the first half with a 31-39 record. The Blue Rocks will look for another winning road trip with a victory in the rubber match Sunday night against Myrtle Beach to wrap up their six-game road trip.
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