Opinion

Starling’s walk-off hit, Manaea’s 10 strikeouts help Wilmington sweep

Bubba Starling’s triple in the bottom of the seventh inning on Wednesday scored two and gave Class A-Advanced Wilmington a 3-2 walk-off win against Carolina and a doubleheader sweep.

The Blue Rocks won the opener 9-4 as starter Sean Manaea struck out 10 in five innings. Both games of the twinbill were seven innings.

In the nightcap, Wilmington was down 2-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth. Starling had a one-out single, took second on a balk and scored on Zane Evans’ double. In the bottom of the seventh, Kenny Diekroeger singled with one out. After an out, Jack Lopez singled and Starling followed with his triple.

“It was a fastball away and I just threw my hands out. (The count was) 2-2, he threw a slider three pitches before that,” Starling told the Wilmington web site. “Like I said, I was just staying on the fastball … I knew Lopez was hopefully getting home and that was the end of it.”

That pushed Starling’s hit streak to 10 games. In that span, he is hitting .343 (12 for 35) with 10 runs, five walks and six RBIs.

John Walter got the win by pitching two innings of one-hit ball. Starter Glenn Sparkman struck out six in 3 2/3 scoreless innings. He allowed three hits and walked one. It was Sparkman’s first start of the year and he was pulled after making 59 pitches.

In the opener, Manaea allowed three runs on six hits with three walks. Manaea, who is 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA, threw 64 of his 98 pitches for strikes.

Hunter Dozier had two hits, scored three times and walked twice. Michael Antonio and Mark Donato each had a pair of hits. Starling scored twice and was one for two. Daniel Rockett had a triple and two RBIs.

The Wilmington web site noted that Dozier reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances between Tuesday night’s game and Wednesday’s opener.

Other games

Omaha lost on a walk-off game and a blowout and was swept by Nashville 5-4 and 13-4. In the first game, Omaha was down 4-0 after five innings, but the Storm Chasers scored one in the sixth and three in the seventh on RBI singles by Carlos Peguero and Matt Fields and an error on a pickoff throw. However, Donnie Joseph allowed a solo homer with one out in the bottom half and the Sounds walked off as winners. In the nightcap, Ryan Verdugo made his first appearance of the year and gave up five runs in 1 2/3 innings. Kameron Loe gave up three runs in an inning and Ramon Troncoso allowed four runs 2 2/3 innings. Peguero had a two-run homer.

Class AA Northwest Arkansas was held to four hits and wasted a gem by left-hander Sam Selman, who allowed three hits in six scoreless innings in a 2-0 loss to San Antonio. Selman struck out eight and walked just one. Matthew Murray allowed a run in the eighth and Wilking Rodriguez gave up one in the ninth.

To reach Pete Grathoff, send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/pgrathoff

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