Wilmington Blue Rocks Struggle Defensively as They Fall to Bowling Green

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Jordy Barley making a throw from shortstop earlier this season. Barley would record one of the Blue Rocks errors in their loss on Wednesday night to Bowling Green. Saturday, April 9, 2022. - Staff Photographer / Tyrese Williams

After taking an early series lead, the Wilmington Blue Rocks fell 8-6 in their second game against the Bowling Green Hot Rods on Wednesday, May 4.

While the Blue Rocks struggled offensively in the early stages of the game, they were able to get going at the plate about a third of the way through. However, they were unable to clean up their defense, which ended up being to their detriment. 

The struggles started right out the gate as their starting pitcher Michael Cuevas gave up his first hit to the Hot Rod’s lead-off batter, Pedro Martinez. After Martinez’s double to start the game, he was quickly driven in by Alika Williams when he hit a pop-up single that Wilmington second baseman Darren Baker was unable to get a read on.

This was only the beginning of a rough night for the Blue Rocks out on the field. While the team was only assessed two errors, there were many more ugly plays defensively that the Hot Rods were able to capitalize on.

“Well, the errors are a part of the game,” Manager Mario Lisson said. “As long as we don’t commit the mental mistakes, the other ones, the physical and the bad throws and the things like that, they’re going to happen in a baseball game.”

As for Cuevas, his night did not get any better, as in the top of the third the Hot Rods recorded four hits, including a three-run home run from Diego Infante. By the time Cuevas left the game in the fourth, his team was down 5-0. He gave up eight hits, two walks and four earned runs.

“I think some of [Cuevas’] pitches were a little too much [over the] middle of the plate, but he was alright overall,” Lisson said. “They had a good approach and they didn’t miss many balls, so you have to give credit to them too.”

In the bottom of the fourth with that deficit, the Blue Rocks finally started putting their bats to work. Designated hitter Israel Pineda and first baseman Omar Meregildo both doubled to get on base with one out and Kevin Strohschein coming up to bat. The right fielder put Wilmington’s first runs on the board with a two-RBI single.

Strohschein did this against Bowling Green’s starting pitcher John Doxakis, who up until that point was making it very difficult to get anything going.

“The hitting coach [Tim Doherty] put together a plan of not giving in to his pitches that he wanted you to [chase],” Strohschein said. “So I was just sticking with the fastball, more out over the plate.”

Bowling Green answered back by tacking on another run in the top of the fifth, but the Blue Rocks got to work once again in the bottom of the sixth. Wilmington strung together a series of hits and free bases to make the game 6-4. Strohschein spoke about what the team did in order to try to build up a comeback. 

“You just have to try to take it one at-bat at a time and not worry about the score on the scoreboard,” Strohschein said. “Just you get on base and the guy behind you gets on base and another guy gets on base and all of a sudden, it’s a different kind of ballgame.”

Despite the Blue Rocks’ efforts, which included two more runs in the eighth and ninth innings, the Hot Rods found a way to add extra runs to ensure the game was theirs. 

Strohschein ended up having a strong showing himself, as he went 3-4 with three RBIs. However, he saw the mistakes in the field and knows they have to be fixed. 

“We’re working, it’s a tough game, so you can’t put any blame on anybody, everybody’s trying out here,” Strohschein said. “We’ll get better throughout the season for sure and we’ll keep practicing before games and stuff like that and hopefully clean it up.”

The Blue Rocks will get the chance to clean up their defensive performance against the Hot Rods as they faceoff in game three at 6:35 p.m. on Thursday, May 5. 

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