Wilmington Blue Rocks Pick up an Extra Inning Victory in First Game Against the Hot Rods

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Darren Baker rounding first earlier in the season. Baker would hit the walk-off RBI to win the game on Tuesday night. Saturday, April 23, 2022. - Staff Photographer / Tyrese Williams

This past Tuesday, May 3, the Wilmington Blue Rocks returned home to begin their six-game series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods. They scored a much-needed 3-2 victory in extra innings to give them their second-straight win and advance to .500 at 11-11 on the year.

The Hot Rods came into this game with a 14-7 record atop the South Atlantic League South. Through the first five-and-a-half innings, they looked like the team with the better record as they shut the Blue Rocks out 1-0. 

Blue Rocks starting pitcher Mitchell Parker was able to contain the visiting team up until the third inning. However, he gave up a home run that produced the only lead of the night for the Hot Rods. Despite that, Wilmington Manager Mario Lisson decided to keep his ace on the mound for two more innings.

“It’s really just about moving on one pitch at a time,” Parker said. “Once he hits it out, it’s gone. I didn’t let it compound and I took care of the issue ahead of me.”

Parker exited the game after five innings, leaving his team with just a 1-0 deficit that they could battle back from. That is what they did in the bottom of the sixth inning, as they took a 2-1 lead thanks to RBIs from designated hitter Omar Meregildo and first baseman Drew Mendoza.

Both of their hits were fly balls to left field, and opposing outfielder Heriberto Hernandez could not track either with the 7:58 sunset in his eyes. 

Other than these two scores, the offense had struggled up until that point in the game. The team ended the night with nine hits, but much of those came in the final three innings. In the third inning, they had base runners on second and third with no outs but were unable to drive either of them in.

Manager Lisson credited his pitchers for his team’s ability to hang in there and eventually win the game. 

“I always believe that when you have good pitching, it will win you games,” Lisson said. “No matter what kind of offense you have, the pitching takes care of the game.”

As a unit, Wilmington’s pitching staff had 14 strikeouts. Parker finished his day with four and Malvin Pena struck out three in two innings. 

Tyler Yankosky relieved Pena in the eighth inning where he struck out one batter but then gave up the game-tying run. Much like Parker earlier in the game, Yankosky returned the following inning after giving up the run and bounced back by striking out three batters. 

Thanks to Yankosky’s strong ninth inning, an extra tenth was required. Wilmington sent out Zach Brzykcy to the mound, who struck out all three of his opponents. This allowed his team to win the game in the bottom of the inning after shortstop Cole Daily scored off of a sacrifice fly ball hit by second baseman Darren Baker. 

While the Blue Rocks were able to win the first game, Lisson wants his team to keep picking up victories against the Hot Rods and his team’s future opponents. 

“It doesn’t matter who we play,” Lisson said. “We are always trying to win. The goal is to go out and compete daily, and we have done that all season long. We are going to continue to do that in this series and throughout the year.”

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