BUIES CREEK, NC - The Wood Ducks capped off a remarkable second-half comeback with a resounding 10-3 victory over the Astros. With the win, Down East clinches the second-half title having not led for a single day in the half until the final out.
Offensively, the Woodies (38-32, 62-77) mashed out 13 more hits and were led by Josh Morgan's three. All nine starters had a hit, and eight-of-nine scored a run in the drubbing.
The Astros (37-32, 74-65) could not figure out the Wood Ducks pitching staff of Wes Benjamin, Jeffrey Springs, and Adam Choplick as they only managed two earned runs. Benjamin started on only four days of rest and worked into the sixth inning with five strikeouts.
For the second straight game, the Wood Ducks were propelled by a four-run second inning. Chuck Moorman started the run support with an RBI single up the middle. Next, LeDarious Clark went over the wall in right for a three-run blast to push the Wood Ducks ahead 4-0.
Benjamin would hit a grove from the end of the first through the fourth by retiring 11 batters in a row. The Woodies added two more in the top of the fifth on a two-run double to right by Preston Scott.
Down East twisted the dagger in the sixth inning after Buies Creek plated an unearned run. An error scored Matt Lipka, then back-to-back singles by Luis La O and Evan Van Hoosier produced two more runs to inflate the lead to 9-1.
Despite two runs in the bottom of the frame for the Astros, La O restored a seven-run lead with an RBI single in the seventh. With three hits on the afternoon, the Cuban finishes in first for the league in total its with 139 and third for batting average at .292.
Springs and Choplick would each collect a strikeout in their innings of work. The final out was a groundout to Morgan at short to clinch the postseason berth.
The southern division finals begin on Wednesday at Grainger Stadium with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans - the first-half champions. Kinston will also host game two of the series before shifting to Myrtle Beach on Friday. It is a best-of-five series with the victor headed to the Mills Cup finals.
Game one: Wednesday - Grainger Stadium, Kinston, NC 7:00 p.m.
Game two: Thursday - Grainger Stadium, Kinston, NC 7:00 p.m.
Game three: Friday - TicketReturn.Com Field, Myrtle Beach, SC 6:05 p.m.
Game four*: Saturday - TicketReturn.Com Field, Myrtle Beach, SC 6:05 p.m.
Game five*: Sunday - TicketReturn.Com Field, Myrtle Beach, SC 6:05 p.m.
You can listen to every pitch of the postseason live on Sports/Talk 960 The Bull or streamed on the TuneIn Radio app.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.