Wilmington Blue Rocks Unable to Build Momentum Against Hickory Crawdads

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The Wilmington Blue Rocks' dugout earlier this season. Blue Rocks left four runners on base this Thursday night in their loss. Sunday, April 10, 2022. - Staff Photographer / Ashley Craven

The Wilmington Blue Rocks fell to the Hickory Crawdads for the second time this week on Thursday, April 21, after they were defeated 5-2. This was the third game of their six-game series.

Unlike their first loss of the series on Tuesday night which was due to defensive errors, this loss was due to a lack of offensive spark. 

Most notably, Wilmington had the bases loaded in the bottom of the second but failed to turn those baserunners into runs on the scoreboard. They left all three men stranded. 

“It’s not as easy to get hits with the bases loaded,” Manager Mario Lisson said. “Obviously you always want to get hits with the bases loaded but that’s not going to be the case every time.”

One of those men left behind was third baseman Jose Sanchez, who reached on a walk during his first at-bat. Despite the fact that it’s difficult to build back momentum after leaving a half-inning scoreless, Sanchez didn’t let it affect his personal play.

“That’s a part of the game,” Sanchez said. “I just try to stay focused on the game.”

Not only would Sanchez stay focused on the game, but he would also be Wilmington’s only offensive light of the night during his next at-bat where he hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth to give the Blue Rock’s their one and only lead of the night, 2-0. 

His homer did cause some controversy with the Crawdads’ Manager Carlos Cardoza who believed it bounced before leaving the field of play, which would have resulted in a ground-rule double. This would be the second night in a row that Cardoza would argue and get in the faces of umpires Jesse Bush and Ethan Gorsak, so this time it led to his ejection from the game. 

However, losing their manager for the night didn’t stop Hickory from getting on the board. Their offense started to get going in the top of the sixth when they put together a couple of hits to score their first run with Blue Rock’s starting pitcher Michael Cuevas still on the mound. Cuevas was pulled immediately after this first run of the night was scored.

“He was alright. He did fine for most of it. I think his stuff wasn’t as good as it normally is but he was able to go through five and a third,” Lisson said. “So I guess it’s a good outing for him.”

Another run would score that inning, tying up the game at 2-2. When the Crawdads got up to bat in the seventh they tacked on three more runs while facing reliever Carlos Romero, which was enough to win the game. 

Romero was charged with the loss, but Wilmington’s inability to get anything substantial going offensively would be their downfall for the night. Lisson expressed how he isn’t too concerned about this being a season-long issue yet. 

“I think it’s still early,” Lisson said. “We’re putting good at-bats. We’re hitting the ball hard. Unfortunately, they’re not falling, but it will come around.”

It is still possible for the Blue Rocks to win this series, with three more games left against the Hickory Crawdads. Their chance to bounce back from defeat is on Friday, April 22, at 6:35 p.m.

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