ZEBULON, N.C. – Jeferson Quero and Oswal Leones both had run-scoring hits during a three-run and four-hit Mudcats’ ninth. However, the Wood Ducks would hold off Carolina’s late two-out rally while winning Sunday’s series finale 5-3 at Five County Stadium.
Alejandro Osuna and Marcus Smith both homered for Down East as they escaped Zebulon with the win in the final game of their six-game series with Carolina.
The Mudcats (21-18) trailed 5-0 going into the last of the ninth before putting together another valiant two-out rally to cut the deficit to 5-3. The Wood Ducks (16-23), however, held on after Anthony Hoopii-Tuionetoa stranded two men on base while striking out Jesus Chirinos to end the game. Hoopii-Tuionetoa (S, 3) faced just the one Carolina batter and was able to leave the tying run at first while earning his third save of the season.
Luis Silva and Zack Raabe started the Carolina ninth with back-to-back singles against Down East reliever Winston Santos. Jackson Chourio followed with a walk to load the bases and a Hendry Mendez sac fly – following a pop out by Eduardo Garcia – would drive in Carolina’s first run of the game. Quero and Leones then followed with back-to-back RBI singles to cut the lead down to 5-3 against Santos. The Wood Ducks went on to pull Santos after Leones’ RBI single and Hoopii-Tuionetoa would come in to finish the ninth while giving Down East its second win in the series.
Israel Puello (2-5) started and ended up with the tough-luck loss after allowing just two early Down East runs over five innings pitched. Puello allowed two doubles and a run in the third. He also saw a run score with two outs in the fourth when a fielding error by Garcia allowed in a run giving the Wood Ducks a 2-0 lead. Puello finished his outing with seven strikeouts against just one walk and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits while taking the loss.
The Wood Ducks led 2-0 through the sixth before adding to their lead with a two-run home run from Osuna in the seventh and a solo home run from Smith in the eighth. Both homers were hit off reliever Edwin Jimenez as he finished the game in relief of Puello. Jimenez allowed three runs, gave up four hits, walked three and struck out five in his appearance.
Larsen Kindreich (2-1) started for Down East and stifled the Carolina offense for much of the afternoon as he pitched through six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. He also scattered a couple of hits while defeating the Mudcats for the second time this season.
Down East took the first and last games of the series, but Carolina won four straight in the middle while winning the six-game set 4-2. Carolina is 3-0-0 in series played against the Wood Ducks this season.
The Wood Ducks return home for a six-game series at Grainger Stadium against the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. The first game is Tuesday at 7 p.m. It’ll be the first meeting between the two teams this season.