ZEBULON, N.C. – Dylan O’Rae had three hits, Kay-Lan Nicasia drove in three with a two-run triple and RBI double and relievers Jose Chavez, Bayden Root and Blake Whiting combined on four scoreless innings over the last of half of the game as the first-place Carolina Mudcats defeated the Down East Wood Ducks 7-2 in the final 2023 regular season home game at Five County Stadium on Sunday afternoon

The Mudcats (36-24, 69-54) originally led 1-0 in the third after O’Rae drove in Tayden Hall from second with a single to left. O’Rae also singled in the first and later bunted his way on to start a five-run Carolina rally in the sixth while going 3-for-4 with a run and one RBI.

The Wood Ducks (27-33, 64-57) briefly took a 2-1 lead in the fifth after scoring twice against Carolina’s starter Will Childers, but the Mudcats rallied back quickly in the sixth and went on to run away with the series finale, and series-clinching 7-2 victory.

Carolina’s five-run sixth started with O’Rae’s bunt hit and continued with a botched double play that saw two Down East throwing errors. O’Rae later scored on a Jesus Chirinos sac fly to tie the game and Jadher Areinamo, who reached on the botched double play, scored the go-ahead on a Jose Sibrian double. Carolina then extended the lead with a sac fly from Juan Baez and Nicasia’s two-run triple. Nicasia also doubled in a run in the eighth while going 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and three RBI.

Reliever Bryan Chi allowed all five Carolina runs in the sixth, but only one of those five ended up being earned. Chi (L, 2-3) went on to pitch into the eighth and took the loss after allowing six runs and two earned over three and 2/3 innings. Brock Porter started and went through four with one run, three hits and four strikeouts.

Childers started for Carolina and finished without a decision despite going five solid innings with just two runs allowed on five hits. He lost Carolina’s 1-0 lead in his fifth and final inning and also finished with three walks and three strikeouts.

Chavez (W, 3-0), Root and Whiting combined on the final four innings of the game with Chavez earning the victory with two scoreless frames. Chavez also struck out two and walked one while facing one over the minimum in his two frames. Root struck out three of four faced in the eighth and Whiting finished it with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth.

The victory clinched a 4-2 series win for Carolina over the Wood Ducks and lifted the Mudcats to a 7-5 mark over their final two homestands of the 2023 season.