ZEBULON, N.C. – Jace Avina homered in the second, Juan Baez had two hits in his Class-A debut and starter Jesus Rivero struck out five over four and 1/3 no-hit innings, but the Down East Wood Ducks defeated the first-place Carolina Mudcats 6-3 on Tuesday night at Five County Stadium.

The Mudcats (32-23, 65-53) originally led 1-0 on Avina’s team-leading 15th home run of the season in the second and eventually 2-0 after getting a run across with help of an error in the third.

With reliever Tyler Wehrle pitching, the Wood Ducks (26-29, 63-53) went on to tie the game at 2-2 in the fifth after scoring twice on a throwing error by Baez before going up 3-2 in that same frame with a Gleider Figuereo RBI single.

Wehrle (L, 8-7) inherited a one-out, bases-loaded jam from Rivero when he first entered in the game-changing fifth. He began his appearance by getting a grounder from Gutierrez to third, but Baez overthrew first while committing a two-run error. Figuereo followed with his RBI single as the Wood Ducks took their first lead.

Wehrle recorded two outs and allowed an unearned run while taking the loss. He also allowed two inherited runners to score. Those two runs were charged to Rivero who ended up going four and 1/3 no-hit frames with two runs, five walks, five strikeouts.

A Miguel Villarroel three-run double off reliever Alexander Vallecillo in the seventh put the game out of reach as the Wood Ducks took a commanding 6-2 lead. Vallecillo followed Wehrle and went three full innings with three runs on four hits. He also walked two and struck out three.

Carolina eventually scored once more in the eighth when Jose Sibrian brought in Jesus Chirinos with a two-out RBI single, but the Mudcats stranded four over the final two innings and 10 overall in the loss.
Newly added reliever Bayden Root also appeared for the Mudcats and gave them a scoreless ninth in his Class-A debut.

Despite the loss, the first-place Mudcats remained atop the Carolina League North second half standings by 2.0 games over Lynchburg and 2.5 games over Fredericksburg. The FredNats defeated the Hillcats earlier in the night with a walk-off home run in the ninth.

Carolina’s series against the Wood Ducks continues on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at Five County Stadium with LHP Brian Fitzpatrick starting for the Mudcats.