KINSTON, N.C. — There were some tense moments in Saturday’s Down East Wood Ducks game as the Lynchburg Hillcats came away with a 4-2 win at Grainger Stadium.
Mitch Bratt started on the mound for the Woodies in game five of the six-game series. The Woodies scored first in the bottom half of the first with Alejandro Osuna crossing the plate after reaching base on a leadoff infield single, as Tucker Mitchell grounded into a double play. One run is all the Woodies could put up in the first on starter Trenton Denholm of the Hillcats.
Both pitchers continued to deal through four innings, where Bratt’s night ended with three strikeouts up 1-0. Denholm amassed seven strikeouts through four innings of work as he continued to throw.
Larson Kindreich was called in from the Duck Blind in the top of the fifth to try and hold onto the lead, but failed to do so. The Hillcats in the top of the fifth had a walk and single with a two-RBI double by Wilfri Peralta, taking the lead at 2-1. A single from Dayan Frias scored Peralta from second and a sac fly from Jake Fox that scored Luis Durango. The Hillcats were now up 4-1.
Kindreich regained good form in the top of the sixth, where he recorded two strikeouts on three batters. Denholm was replaced in the bottom of the sixth and went five innings, recording nine strikeouts on the night. Hugo Villalobos came on in relief, and the Woodies only were able to get one runner on with a single by Jose Rodriguez. Kindreich had retired nine straight through the sixth, seventh, and eighth.
Yenci Pena, in the seventh, hit a solo bomb to left field, going 380 feet, to get the Wood Ducks within 4-2.
In the ninth tensions rose in Kinston as the Woodies were up for their last chance to mount a comeback against closer Trey Benton. A controversial call was made in center field on a fly ball that might have hit the ground, originally ruled a hit by the home plate umpire. It was challenged by the Hillcats manager, and the call was overturned into an out.
Wood Ducks manager Steve Mintz stormed at the umpires from the third-base coaching box and was ejected for arguing the call, which would have made it runner on first with the tying run at the plate. A strikeout call to end the game led to the benches almost clearing as there was chirping between both teams.
The Wood Ducks (13-19) and Hillcats (17-14) continue their series Sunday with the first pitch set for 1 p.m. at Grainger Stadium.
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 – 9 am – 4 pm). Make sure to follow your Down East Wood Ducks on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Facebook so you don’t miss anything!