ZEBULON, N.C. – The Down East Wood Ducks set a new single-game high in runs as they defeated the Carolina Mudcats 17-5, Tuesday night.
The Wood Ducks also tallied season-high 23 hits. Aaron Zavala had a monster game, going four-for-four with three RBI to earn the Suddenlink Player of the Game.
After falling behind 1-0 after the first inning, Down East (65-44) tied the game in the top of the second. Cristian Inoa led off the inning with a solo home run (9) to tie the game at one.
The Woodies broke the tie in the third. Jayce Easley led off with a single and scored on a double by Zavala to put Down East ahead 2-1. Luisangel Acuña singled and Zavala advanced to third. During the at-bat of Keyber Rodriguez, Acuña stole second (41). Rodriguez ultimately struck out, but Inoa singled to score Zavala for the 3-1 lead.
Down East broke the game open in the top of the fourth. Jose Acosta led off the inning with a walk. During the at-bat of Randy Florentino, Acosta advanced to second on a wild pitch. After back-to-back strikeouts, Acosta scored from second on a single by Easley to push the Wood Ducks lead to 4-1.
Zavala was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. After a pitching change, Easley stole third (68) and Zavala stole second (3). With runners on second and third, Acuña singled to score Easley and Zavala scored ahead of a throw home, which allowed Acuña to advance to second as Down East increased their lead to 6-1. With Rodriguez batting, Acuña stole third (42) and ultimately scored on a single by Rodriguez to push the Woodies lead to 7-1.
Carolina (63-46) plated one more run in the bottom of the sixth to cut the deficit to 7-2.
The Wood Ducks responded with three runs in the top of the seventh. Cody Freeman started the inning with a single and advanced to third on a single by Acosta. After Acosta stole second (9), Daniel Mateo hit a one-out single to score both Freeman and Acosta to increase the Down East lead to 9-2. With two outs, Zavala doubled for his third hit of the game, which scored Mateo from first for the 10-2 Wood Ducks lead.
The Mudcats started to climb back in the bottom of the seventh as they plated three runs with two home runs against the Wood Ducks bullpen to make the score 10-5.
Down East responded with a big top of the ninth inning. With one out, Florentino was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a double by Mateo. Alejandro Osuna, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the top of the seventh, worked a walk to load the bases. With the bases loaded, Zavala drew a walk to score Florentino and the Wood Ducks increased their lead to 11-5.
Acuña followed with another walk and that scored Mateo for the 12-5 lead. After a pop out, Yenci Peña singled to score both Osuna and Zavala to increase the lead to 14-5. Freeman plated Acuña and Peña with a double as Down East built their lead to a commanding 16-5 lead. After a pitching change, Acosta doubled against Noah Campbell, a position player, to score Freeman for a 17-5 lead.
Gavin Collyer (W, 3-1) earned the win, pitching five innings while allowing one unearned run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Theo McDowell contributed one inning but allowed four runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Eris Filpo pitched a scoreless 2 2/3 innings, allowing three hits with three strikeouts.
The series continues Wednesday with first pitch set for 7 p.m. RHP Josh Stephan (0-0, 0.00) will take the ball for the Wood Ducks and Carolina will counter with RHP Jeferson Figueroa (0-1, 3.72).
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, and Facebook so you don’t miss anything!