KINSTON, N.C. - Max McDowell had a go-ahead RBI single in the fifth, Tucker Neuhaus hit a game tying home run in the sixth, but the Wood Ducks answered with runs in the seventh and eighth while defeating the Mudcats for the second straight night 4-2 at Grainger Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Wood Ducks (22-17) took a two games to none lead in the three game series with the victory. They also handed the Mudcats (18-21) their fifth straight loss at Grainger Stadium this season after scoring two unanswered runs following Neuhaus' game tying homer in the sixth.
Starter Jonathan Hernandez of the Wood Ducks gave up the Neuhaus homer and ended up with a no-decision after leaving the game before Down East took the lead for good in the seventh. Hernandez struck out a season high 11 in the game for Wood Ducks and allowed just two runs on five hits over six innings pitched.
Trey Supak started for Carolina and worked through the sixth with two walks, eight strikeouts and two runs allowed on six hits. He also ended up with a no-decision and reached 92 pitches (63 strikes) in the start.
The game was scoreless through the fourth until McDowell brought in the game's first run with a two-out RBI single to center off Hernandez. Weston Wilson scored that run after starting the fifth with a single and the Mudcats took a 1-0 lead. McDowell went 2-for-3 with a RBI in the loss for Carolina.
The Wood Ducks answered the one run Carolina fifth with a two run bottom side all while taking a 2-1 lead. Supak started the fifth by allowing a single to Brenden Davis, but then went on to record two straight outs before giving up a RBI triple to Eric Jenkins. Anderson Tejeda then followed with a two-out RBI double as the Wood Ducks took a 2-1 lead.
Hernandez came back out for the sixth and began the frame with a 2-1 lead before allowed Neuhaus to tie the game with a laser home run to straightaway center. The home run was Neuhaus' team leading sixth of the season and locked the game up at 2-2. Neuhaus was 2-for-4 in the loss with a home run, a run and a RBI. He also started at first for the first time in his professional career.
Supak returned for one more frame and managed to hold the tie at 2-2 before turning the game over to the bullpen in the seventh. Daniel Brown followed Supak and ended up taking the loss after giving up a two-out run scoring hit to Leody Taveras and losing the tie late in the game. Luke Barker later worked the eighth and gave up an unearned run and two hits. Brown (1-3, 5.93) allowed a run on two hits and struck out one in the loss.
Reliever Kaleb Fontenot earned the win for the Wood Ducks after holding Carolina scoreless in the sixth and seventh. Jacob Lemoine (S, 1) worked the ninth and earned his first save after tossing a scoreless frame with one strikeout.
Carolina stranded four men on base and went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position in the series clinching loss. The Wood Ducks lead the series 2-0 with the finale set for 7:00 p..m. at Grainger Stadium in Kinston, NC on Thursday night. The game will air on the Mudcats Radio Network, The Big Dawg 98.5 FM and online at carolinamudcats.com via TuneIn Radio.
# # #
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.