ZEBULON, N.C. – The Down East Wood Ducks rallied for three two-out runs in the sixth inning and scored a run in the eighth to beat the Carolina Mudcats 4-3 in Game 1 of the Carolina League North Division Series on Tuesday night at Five County Stadium.
Jace Avina hit a solo home run in the second inning and Juan Baez tripled in a run in the fourth, for the Mudcats.
The Wood Ducks (1-0) took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 playoff series with Tuesday’s road victory in Zebulon, N.C.. Following Wednesday’s scheduled off-day, the series will continue on Thursday night with the Wood Ducks hosting the Mudcats (0-1) at Grainger Stadium in Kinston, N.C. Game 3 would be played on Friday at Grainger Stadium, if necessary.
Brock Porter started for the Wood Ducks and allowed Avina’s home run in the second and Baez’s RBI triple in the fourth. Porter ended up pitching through the fifth and allowed just the two runs on five hits over five full innings. He also struck out eight but left with Carolina up 2-0.
Logan Henderson started for the Mudcats and was able to get through five scoreless innings before allowing three Down East runs in the sixth. Henderson started the sixth with two quick outs, but then gave up a two-strike single to Miguel Villarroel before walking Konnor Piotto and then allowing a game-tying two-run triple to Ian Moller.
Henderson was pulled after Moller’s triple, but reliever Chase Costello went on to allow a go-ahead RBI single to Gleider Figuereo while seeing the Wood Ducks take a 3-2 lead.
After Costello worked a scoreless top of the seventh, the Mudcats went on to tie the game at 3-3 when Gregory Barrios singled and scored on a two-out error by second baseman Devin Hurdle. Barrios also advanced to second earlier in the inning while tagging on a deep flyout to center by Kay-Lan Nicasia.
With Costello still in, the Wood Ducks broke the tie and took a 4-3 lead in the eighth when Piotto drove in JoJo Blackmon from second with a go-ahead RBI double. Blackmon doubled to start the eighth as the Wood Ducks rallied for a run on two hits to take the late lead. Reliever Bayden Root eventually took over for Costello in the eighth and left an inherited runner on base before later pitching a scoreless ninth.
Down East relievers Alberto Mota, D.J. McCarty and Paul Bonzagni worked the final four innings while combining to hold Carolina to just one unearned run and two hits the rest of the way.
Mota allowed a hit, but worked a scoreless sixth. McCarty (W, 1-0)(BS, 1) allowed a hit and an unearned run over two innings while earning the win. Bonzagni (S, 1) then closed it out with a three-up and three-down ninth.