FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – Thanks to some clutch hitting, the Down East Wood Ducks snuck away with a 9-7 win over the Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Tuesday night.
The Wood Ducks blew a five-run lead in the bottom of the fifth and committed four defensive errors but thanks to two solo home runs in the top of the seventh powered them to their 31st win of the season.
Down East (31-23) started the scoring in the top of the first against Fayetteville starter Shea Barry. With one out, Luisangel Acuña singled and scored on Dustin Harris’ two-run home run in the following at-bat to put the Wood Ducks up 2-0.
Fayetteville (22-32) answered in the bottom of the first with two runs against Down East starter Gavin Collyer.
After a scoreless second and third, Down East put three runs on the board to take the lead in the top of the fourth, chasing Barry from the game. Thomas Saggese walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Obie Ricumstrict was hit by a pitch and a wild pitch allowed Saggese to move to third and Ricumstrict to head to second.
With the infield in, Jayce Easley ripped a single up the middle to plate Saggese and Ricumstrict to give the Wood Ducks a 4-2 lead. After a pitching change, Acuña doubled with one out, to score Easley as Down East padded their lead 5-2.
Two more runs crossed the plate for the Woodies in the top of the fifth. Cody Freeman singled and advanced to second as Alejandro Osuna reached first on a fielding error by Fayetteville third baseman Yeuris Ramirez. Saggese flew out to center and Freeman advanced to third.
With runners at the corners, Osuna stole second. With two outs, Easley walked to load the bases and Keithron Moss walked to plate Freeman for the 6-2 lead. With the bases still loaded, Acuña singled to score Osuna, which pushed the lead to 7-2.
Fayetteville scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth. With runners on first and second, Freeman committed a throwing error on a double steal that allowed both runners to score to cut the lead to 7-4. After two singles and a one-out walk, Marc Church (W, 2-1) replaced Teodoro Ortega and surrendered a three-run triple as Fayetteville tied the game at seven.
Down East took the late lead in the top of the seventh, thanks to some clutch power. With one out, Keithron Moss and Acuña hit back-to-back home runs for the 9-7 Woodies lead.
Collyer took the no-decision, pitching 3 2/3 innings while allowing two runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. Ortega pitched one inning, allowing five unearned runs on two hits with one walk. Church (W, 2-1) earned the win, pitching 2 1/3 innings while allowing one hit with five strikeouts.
Josh Smith (S, 2) closed out the final 2 innings with one hit allowed and two strikeouts to earn his second save of the season.
The Wood Ducks continue their series with Fayetteville Wednesday with the first pitch at 6:30 p.m. Down East will send RHP Wyatt Sparks (1-0, 2.95) and the Woodpeckers will counter with RHP Fabricio Reina (0-2, 9.70).
Fans can purchase tickets on woodducksbaseball.com, by calling the Wood Ducks Team Offices at (252) 686-5164 or in the Wood Ducks Team Offices located at Grainger Stadium (Mon-Fri – 9am – 4pm). Make sure to follow your Down East Wood Ducks on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you don’t miss anything!