WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Courtesy of an offensive explosion at the plate, the Wilmington Blue Rocks cruised to a win by the score of 11-5 over the Winston-Salem Dash on Wednesday at BB&T Ballpark. Every single Blue Rock batter managed to register a hit en route to a pair of tallies in the third, six in the fifth, one in the sixth, and two final scores in the ninth. Collectively, the Blue Crew registered a season-high 16 hits, with Ramon Torres single-handedly responsible for five of them. The victory, coupled with Frederick’s loss at Myrtle Beach, lowered Wilmington’s magic number to clinch a first-half Carolina League North crown to six. The Blue Crew lead the Keys and Lynchburg Hillcats by six games with 11 remaining in the campaign’s opening half.
The Rocks used the long ball to break the scoring open in the top of the third inning. After Torres singled with one out, Mauricio Ramos connected on his first home run of the season, which gave Wilmington a 2-0 lead. Winston-Salem starter Jake Cose would then induce a fly out from Cody Stubbs and a ground out from Frank Schwindel to get out of the inning.
Wilmington broke the game open with a huge top of the fifth. Carlos Garcia would reach on an error with one out, then after a Torres single, Ramos grounded one back to Cose. He tried to turn two but threw the ball into center field instead, scoring Garcia and giving the Blue Crew a 3-0 lead. Stubbs was next, and he singled home Torres to make it 4-0, with Ramos moving to third on the play. Schwindel followed with a sacrifice fly that plated Ramos, and then Jack Lopez ripped a double down the left field line to bring in Stubbs, pushing the Wilmington edge to 6-0. The scoring barrage would finally cease when Cam Gallaghertook Winston-Salem reliever Jose Brito deep to give the Rocks an 8-0 advantage.
After their relentless attack in the fifth, Wilmington poured on another tally in the sixth. Logan Moon led off the frame with a double, and then came around to score on a Garcia single. The Rocks eventually loaded the bases with nobody out, but failed to produce any more runs, thanks in large part to a Schwindel double play ground ball.
Winston-Salem scratched across a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, then put up three in the seventh. In that three-run frame, Chris Jacobs and Omar Narvaez produced back-to-back singles to begin the rally, and then Jacobs scored on Nolan Earley’s double that got Narvaez to third base. Cleuluis Rondon traded an out for a run, as he came up with a sacrifice fly that plated Narvaez. The Dash would conclude their rally when Michael Suiter grounded out to bring in Earley, pulling Winston-Salem to within 9-4. The Dash scored one more in the eighth, and Wilmington plated a pair in the ninth to end the scoring for the evening.
The Rocks and Dash conclude their four-game series on Thursday at BB&T Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., and fans can listen to the broadcast on 89.7 WGLS-FM. Wilmington returns home for a three-game series against the Salem Red Sox on June 15 for a 6:35 p.m. game. For tickets, call 302-888-BLUE, or visit www.bluerocks.com.
PEBBLES OF KNOWLEDGE:
Wednesday marked a career night for Ramon Torres. The second baseman collected five hits in six at-bats, making him the 13th player in franchise history to produce five hits in a single game. No Blue Rock has ever recorded a six-hit game. The five-hit game by Torres was the first for a Wilmington hitter since August 10, 2012, when Matt Fields accomplished the feat. Believe it or not, Wednesday was not the first time Torres produced five knocks in a single contest. Back on August 12, 2012 with the Arizona League Royals, he went 5-for-5 with five singles against the Arizona League Cubs. Entering play on Wednesday, Torres was mired in a 5-for-35 cold stretch, making his night even more remarkable.
Mauricio Ramos hit his first long ball of the season in Wednesday’s win, his first homer since August 26 of last year when he was with Low-A Lexington. The Wilmington third baseman did not record a home run in the entire first half of last season, but smacked nine in the second half of 2014. Even with his power showing up late a season ago, Ramos put up respectable numbers, hitting .279 with those nine homers and 54 RBIs. Over his last five games, Ramos has gone 6-for-19 with the one homer, as well as two doubles, four RBIs, and four runs.
Jack Lopez stayed hot at the plate on Wednesday night. The Rocks shortstop went 3-for-5 with a double, one RBI, and a run. He has also now collected at least one hit in six straight contests, a new season-high for Lopez. That stretch eclipses his previous season-high of five consecutive games with a hit, which took place from April 22 to April 26. Over his last six, he is batting .565 (13-for-23), and he has raised his average by 46 points from .194 to .240.
Cody Stubbs has only played in 11 games this season since returning from extended spring training after an injury delayed the start of his campaign, but he has certainly made his presence felt in the middle of the Blue Rocks order. After Wednesday’s game, Stubbs is batting .463 (19-for-41) with a homer, six doubles, three RBIs, and eight runs. He has also now hit safely in all 11 of his games this season, whichextends his own team-high hitting streak. Frank Schwindel’s nine-game hitting streak from April 22 to May 1 was the previous high before Stubbs eclipsed that mark in game one of Tuesday’s doubleheader, making Stubbs the only Rock to reach double-digits this year. Stubbs spent 2014 in Wilmington as well, and he led the Rocks with 10 home runs a season ago.
THEY SAID IT:
Manager Brian Buchanan:
“I think (Ramon Torres’s success tonight) was mostly pitch selection for him. He’s a contact guy that’s going to put the ball in play. If he gets a strike and puts his swing on it, he’s going to get some hits. I think (in his recent slump) it was mostly him trying to do too much at the plate. Tonight he got some pitches to hit and did what he can with them.”
“Anytime someone goes 5-for-6, you’re pretty locked in. You kind of had that feeling every time he came up he was going to get a hit…He’s laying off pitches, and you just kind of had the feeling that when he (entered) the box that he’s going to hit it hard somewhere.”
“Just the way that (Torres) was laying off pitches and swinging at strikes (indicated he was going to have a good night). Any time you see a hitter laying off balls in the dirt and high fastballs, and when they get a strike to hit and they put a pretty good swing on it, you get a pretty good feeling about the night.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve seen (Torres play). He’s having a good year. He’s had some good at-bats throughout the whole year, and he’s been a solid (leadoff or second spot) hitter for us all year.”
Starting Pitcher Eric Skoglund:
“My two-seam (fastball) was working really well, and I had unbelievable defense behind me. (Logan) Moon made an unbelievable play, and Jack (Lopez) made one as well. I give all the credit to those guys. They did an unbelievable job helping me out.”
“Luckily I got (the groundball to me in the first inning). (Adam Engel) hit that ball pretty hard. Adam Engel is a pretty good player. I played him in college, and so I kind of know his tendencies a little bit, but I was fortunate to get that.”
“(The offense performing well) is definitely a bonus. These guys come out and they hit every day. (They are) very balanced at the plate. They’re unbelievable at hitting. Their approaches are very good, especially these past 10 games. That keeps the pitchers very aggressive, and it helps us out.”
“We’re starting to (pay attention to the standings) a little bit. We want this first half (title). We want it really bad, and I think that’s great…The team’s coming around, and we’re always excited to come to the field every day. Winning this first half is a big part of it, so that’s awesome, and I really do hope we get that first half win.”