Baseball is such a strange game. Take the Wilmington Blue Rocks for example. Their offense was the picture-perfect definition of inconsistent during the season’s opening half. On top of that, the Rocks entered this week’s four-game series in Lynchburg batting a measly .188 as a team in six prior contests against the Hillcats. But Wilmington finished Monday with a season-high 19 hits and pounded 11 more base knocks in Tuesday’s narrow loss. On Wednesday the Blue Crew bashed 14 more hits, bringing their three-game total to 44 knocks, which is the most in any three-game stretch this season. Within 72 hours, the Rocks have raised their average to a respectable .260 against Lynchburg this season.
Thanks to the awakening offense, the Blue Crew have won two of three, and have begun to resemble a team that may well have the pieces to put together a run in the season’s second half. The Rocks are hoping to get highly regarded prospect Jorge Bonifacio back off the disabled list at some point in July. He will rejoin a stable of bats that has all the sudden developed into a group that can strike some fear into opposing pitching staffs.
For example check out what some of the Rocks hitters have strung together of late.
Dennis Raben continues to carry the Blue Rocks offense during this series in Lynchburg. The lefty slugger had three more hits on Wednesday, reached base four times overall on the night and added an RBI and a run scored. In three games in the Hill-City, Raben is 9-for-15 with three doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored.
Jack Lopez also continues to trend in the right direction at the plate. The shortstop had his third three-hit game of the season in Wednesday’s win. Lopez had three singles, stole two bases, drove in a run and scored another. The effort raised his season-long batting average to .224, the highest it has been since April 16.
Jared Schlehuber got himself another hit and scored another run for Vance Wilson’s team. The infielder’s third-inning single helped key a two-run rally by the Rocks. Schlehuber has hit safely in all six games since the All-Star break, batting .375 (9-for-24) with four RBIs over that stretch. He is the only active Blue Rock that has played in at least 12 games, who is hitting better than .300 on the season.
Parker Morin’s success away from Frawley Stadium continued on Wednesday. The catcher went 2-for-3 with a walk, a sacrifice and a run scored. He is hitting .308 with six extra-base knocks, 12 RBIs and 12 walks on the road this season. Conversely, the catcher is batting just .184 with three extra-base hits, four RBIs and four walks in the First State in 2013. Since the All-Star break, Morin is sporting a .563 on-base percentage.
When you add dynamic centerfielder Lane Adams, switch-hitting run-producer Daniel Mateo and pesky leadoff hitter Justin Trapp to the equation, the Rocks have themselves a formidable offense.
It took 75 games, but Wilmington has the horses to compete on offense. They have more than enough talent on their pitching staff as well. Vance Wilson’s team might be preparing to put together a pretty interesting run over the next two-plus months. Wilmington has not won a Carolina League title in more than a decade. Three weeks ago it looked like the streak was destined to continue for at least another year, but now that might not be true.