Woodpeckers Split Thrilling Doubleheader with Nationals
Wrapping up a stretch of five games in only three days, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers split an intriguing doubleheader with the Potomac Nationals on Saturday. After overcoming a three-run deficit in the first game, Fayetteville suffered their twelfth walk-off loss of the season in extra innings, 4-3 in game one, and rallied from another three-run deficit in game two to pick up a 5-4 win. Down to their final out in the nightcap, Jonathan Arauz blasted a three-run home run to right field to give Fayetteville the lead, and the win.
Following a career-worst day against the same Nationals squad, J.P France needed a few innings to settle in for Fayetteville, but still went on to toss a stellar performance. After dancing around a pair of baserunners in the first inning, France allowed Potomac to load the bases while leading off the second inning. Following an RBI single by Osvaldo Abreu, Gage Canning served a double up the right field line to bring another pair across home. Needing to lock back in for Fayetteville, France spun back to form immediately following, as the right-hander suddenly launched his way through the next five innings against the Nationals. France only allowed two baserunners after the second inning, and worked a stretch of 14 consecutive outs, as J.P. worked through the seventh inning for the first time in his career. Despite the early struggles from J.P., the backend of his start made it possible for Fayetteville to tie the game.
Facing Kyle Johnston for the fifth time this season, the Fayetteville offense was weakly dispatched over the first four innings. Jeremy Pena accounted for the only base hit for Fayetteville over that time frame, a leadoff single in the first inning, as Fayetteville was unable to push a runner to third base over the span. The Woodpeckers were gifted good fortune in the fifth inning, when Ross Adolph led of the frame by reaching on a dropped third strike. Scott Manea capitalized on the brief window of opportunity when the catcher lofted a ball just inside the left field foul pole. The long shot for Manea made it a one-run game. Fayetteville was able to nick Johnston again in the sixth inning. Following a two-out double by Jonathan Arauz, Ross Adolph single the opposite way to score a tying run from second base.
With new life in the game, the two sides went to an extra frame, but Fayetteville once again failed to score, or even advance, the designated runner placed at second base. Andrew Istler (W, 1-1) worked a flyout, a popout, and a groundout to set up the walk-off scenario for Potomac. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Cesar Rosado (L, 2-6) walked one batter and hit another to load the bases with two outs, and the right-hander served the win to Potomac on a silver platter when he fired a 3-2 pitch to KJ Harrison outside, a walk-off walk.
It was the twelfth walk-off loss for Fayetteville this season, and the fourth at the hands of Potomac. Half of Fayetteville's losses on the road have now been in walk-off fashion.
After the intermission, Ross Adolph opened the gates with a double up the left field line. Adolph quickly scored just two batters later when Jonathan Arauz singled to right field. While Fayetteville may have looked to take an early stance against Ryan Tapani, the right-hander for Potomac burned through the strike zone for the remainder of his Advanced-A debut. Tapani only allowed two baserunners over the remainder of his five-inning performance, and he logged a career-high ten punchouts.
Making his second consecutive start against Potomac, Shawn Dubin ripped his way through a pair of batters early on, as Dubin quickly notched two strikeouts around an infield single in the first inning, but starting with cleanup batter Alex Dunlap, Dubin suddenly lost control of the zone. Dubin walked three consecutive batters to allow one run, and a 2-RBI single by Osvaldo Abreu was the final factor to chase Dubin from the game, allowing three runs. Joey Gonzalez was tasked to maintain what he could, now that Fayetteville suddenly trailed by a pair, and the righty did what he could. Gonzalez only allowed a solo home run to Telmito Agustin over 3 1/3 innings, giving Potomac the 4-1 lead during the third inning.
Once Tapini had finally left, Fayetteville finally found a slim chance for offense against Jeremy McKinney. While McKinney stranded a pair of walks in the sixth inning, Fayetteville finally got a pair of base hits against him in the final frame. After a walk to load the bases, McKinney was lifted for Jhonathan German. German (L, 1-2) allowed a sacrifice fly to make it a two-run game, but the flyout by Chandler Taylor also put Fayetteville only one out away from being swept in the twin bill. Working ahead in the count against German, Jonathan Arauz lofted a line drive over the right-center field wall to rocket Fayetteville ahead for good.
Following the three innings from Gonzalez, Humberto Castellanos (W, 1-1) tossed a stellar trio of innings in relief for Fayetteville, facing the minimum and allowing only an infield single to pick up the win in relief.
With the win in game one, Potomac has captured the season series between the two sides, taking at least nine of the sixteen overall meetings already, but the come-from-behind win for Fayetteville evens the four-game series going in to game three. The two sides will not have much time to reflect on the tome of events from Saturday, however, as they'll return to Pfitzner Stadium for a matinee affair on Sunday, when Nivaldo Rodriguez climbs the hill for Fayetteville. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05PM
The Fayetteville Woodpeckers are the Advanced Single-A affiliate of the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros and play in their Inaugural Season at beautiful Segra Stadium in downtown Fayetteville. Segra Stadium, a $40 million state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue, features space for over 5,200 fans, natural grass, a 25x70 LED video scoreboard, six luxury suites, four field boxes, the premium AEVEX Veterans Club level, Healy's Bar and outdoor party deck, a kid's zone, and more. With a rich history of baseball in the city of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, the Woodpeckers are thrilled to write a new chapter with their inaugural campaign on Hay Street. Fans are encouraged to visit FayettevilleWoodpeckers.com to purchase tickets, learn more about the team, and find out about upcoming events and promotions at the ballpark. Fans may also reach the Woodpeckers by visiting the BB&T Box Office in front of Segra Stadium, calling (910) 339-1989, or emailing Woodpeckers@Astros.com.
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