KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — Abimelec Ortiz’s solo home run to right-center field with one out in the bottom of the ninth enabled the Down East Wood Ducks to beat the Carolina Mudcats, 3-2, on Thursday at Grainger Stadium.
The win prevented the Mudcats (34-32) from clinching the first-half Carolina League North title. The Mudcats needed a win to clinch a postseason spot. Instead, Lynchburg (35-31) and Salem (35-31) finished in a tie for first with the Mudcats one game out. The Wood Ducks (33-33) finished fourth, two games out.
It’s the first time the Wood Ducks had a record at .500 since they were 7-7 after beating Columbia 10-1 on April 23.
Ortiz’s homer came after Tucker Mitchell popped out to start the bottom of the ninth. Before that, Carolina got a run in the top of the eighth to tie it at 2-2 when Eduardo Garcia scored on a groundout by Jeferson Quero.
Carolina took a 1-0 lead in the third but Down East tied it in the bottom of the fifth and took the lead in the sixth. Josy Galan homered, his ninth of the season, in the fifth. Maximo Acosta doubled in Daniel Mateo in the sixth.
Four Wood Ducks pitchers held Carolina to five hits. Theo McDowell (4-1), who pitched the ninth, got the win while Karlos Morales (1-3) took the loss. Alexander Cornielle, who started for Carolina, totaled a career-high 11 strikeouts while pitching into the sixth.
The two teams play again Friday at 7 p.m. at Grainger Stadium in the first game of the second half of the season.