Woodpeckers, Wood Ducks Split Doubleheader
The Fayetteville Woodpeckers pulled off a come from behind walk off win in game one of a doubleheader at Segra Stadium. Down 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh the Woodpeckers rallied and poured on four runs, highlighted by the game winning two RBI single off David Hensley's bat. In game two, the Woodpeckers were shutout for the fifth time this season in a 3-0 loss, but still control the series against the Wood Ducks two games-to-one.
The Woodpeckers scored their 100th run in the first inning this year against Down East starter Noah Bremer. Jeremy Pena and Cal Stevenson drew back-to-back walks, moving to second and third when Marty Costes grounded out. Another 4-3 putout off the bat of Chandler Taylor scored Pena, making it 1-0 Woodpeckers. David Hensley managed to draw yet another free pass but a fielder's choice ended the inning, with Fayetteville holding a slight lead on the Wood Ducks.
Parker Mushinski retired the first five batters he faced on the mound for Fayetteville, including fanning back-to-back batters to start the second frame. Down East earned their first hit of the game when Diosbel Arias knocked a single up the middle, but the runner was left stranded when Bubba Thompson flew out to right. Mushinski would then go on another run retiring seven straight into the top of the fifth. It was Arias who would once again slice a single with one gone in the fifth for just Down East's second hit of the game. Fayetteville's starter sent down Thompson to put two away, but then walked Yanio Perez to putting two on the base paths for the Wood Ducks. With the go ahead run now on Tyler Depreta-Johnson laced a base hit into center field that scored Arias. The Fayetteville center fielder bobbled the ball in the outfield, allowing Depreta-Johnson to move to second and Perez to score. The E8 meant that the Wood Ducks took a 2-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth.
Fayetteville went down in order in the second half of the frame, but got the offense going in the bottom of the sixth. Cal Stevenson drew his second free pass of the game, forcing Down East to make a pitching change and send out their closer Joe Kuzia (4-2). The Wood Ducks reliever quickly gave up a single to center from Marty Costes, putting two on for the Woodpeckers. David Hensley brought home Stevenson with a single roped to right field that tied the game at two apiece. It was RBI number 15 for Hensley and also marked his 9th RBI in the last seven games for the Fayetteville slugger.
With the game knotted up at 2, the Woodpeckers sent out Parker Mushinski to try and finish the game on the hill. The Fayetteville hurler gave up his third single of the day to Arias who smacked a hit into left field to leadoff the frame. A sacrifice bunt for Thompson moved Arias into scoring position, but Mushinski got out number two when he forced a 6-3 groundout with Perez at the plate. Depreta-Johnson joined Arias on the base paths when he drew a walk, but neither stood at the bags for long thanks to JP Martinez. The Wood Ducks center fielder stepped up to the plate and crushed a three run homer over the wall in right field to break the tie and give Down East their lead back. It was the second bomb in as many days for Martinez and ultimately chased Mushinski out of the game. Fayetteville sent out Riley Cabral (2-1) to get the final out of the frame, which he did quickly when Sam Huff knocked into a three unassisted.
Now down 5-2 the Woodpeckers looked for a walk off in the bottom of the seventh, getting off to a good start when Miguelangel Sierra and Ruben Castro sliced back-to-back singles. Jeremy Pena reached on a error at shortstop, meaning the bases were loaded for Cal Stevenson. The Fayetteville infielder drew his third walk of the day to score a run and tally his 9th RBI of the year, putting the Woodpeckers within two runs. Valdez scored when Marty Costes chopped into a groundout, cutting the Down East lead to just one. The Wood Ducks intentionally walked Chandler Taylor to reload the bases with David Hensley at the plate. Then the hottest hitter on the Woodpeckers came up big, smacking a single to left field that scored Pena and Stevenson to complete the 6-5 walk off comeback victory for Fayetteville.
In game two, Woodpeckers starter JP France (4-9) kicked things off by striking out the side to keep things scoreless right away. Fayetteville did get a baserunner on Down East starter Francisco Villegas when Marty Costes drew a walk, but did not put any on the board as the Wood Ducks hurler fanned Chandler Taylor to end the first frame. Neither team could tally until the top of the third when Down East brought home a run to take the lead. Tyler Depreta-Johnson drew a leadoff walk, moving to second on Eric Jenkins' single. France fanned JP Martinez for the first out of the inning, but Sam Huff's RBI base hit brought home Depreta-Johnson to make it 1-0 Down East. The Woodpeckers damage limited the damage when JP France struck out Curtis Terry, while Michael Papierski fired to second to catch Sam Huff stealing on a successful strike them out, throw them out that ended the inning.
Fayetteville got their first hit of the game against Villegas with one away in the bottom of the third, as Jeremy Pena smacked a single to right. Still, the Wood Ducks hurler fanned Cal Stevenson and Costes in order to end the inning and keep it 1-0. In the top of the fourth the Woodpeckers made a pitching change, sending out Jacob Billingsley. The Fayetteville bullpen arm immediately fanned Sherton Apostel to start his outing, but Diosbel Arias followed with a double knocked to the corner in left field. Billingsley was not rattled retiring the next two batters he faced to pitch a scoreless frame. The Woodpeckers reliever continued into the sixth, earning two outs in the frame before he was replaced by Humberto Castellanos who inherited a runner on first. A star worthy play from Jeremy Pena ended the inning, with the Fayetteville shortstop making a diving play on a flare from Diosbel Arias.
The Fayetteville offense was quiet all night as Villegas and reliever Josh Advocate (5-2) retired a combined eight straight until Advocate gave up a single in the bottom of the sixth to Jeremy Pena. It was a leadoff knock for the Woodpeckers infielder, but he was left stranded as Fayetteville was retired in order to end the sixth and keep it 1-0 Down East.
In the seventh frame Castellanos continued the mound, allowing a leadoff single laced by Bubba Thompson to left field. Josh Altmann roped a single to right field as well, almost getting caught in a rundown that confused the Woodpeckers and allowed Thompson to score and Altmann to head back to first safely on the miscue. Now up 2-0, the Wood Ducks kept slicing hits when Depreta-Johnson and Jenkins both reached safely, Jenkins' bunt single tallying Altmann to extend the lead to three runs. The Woodpeckers finally got out number one in the top the eighth on a 7-2 outfield assist that stopped Depreta-Johnson from scoring. A 1-2-3 twin killing ended the frame to send the game into the bottom of the seventh with the Woodpeckers down 3-0. In need of their second walk off the day, the Woodpeckers could not muster up any offense in the bottom of the seventh to drop game two 3-0.
The Woodpeckers are now 70-67 after the day while Down East moves to 87-50. Fayetteville still leads Down East by a game a half in the standings, with the winner of this series winning the second half in the South Division. Game four is scheduled for 7:00pm on Sunday night from Segra Stadium. 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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