The Fayetteville Woodpeckers dropped their fifth rubber match this year in a loss on Thursday night to the Wilmington Blue Rocks. The Woodpeckers fell victim to a gem tossed by Kris Bubic, who went nine innings on the mound and gave up just three hits all night. The Blue Rocks hurler struck out eleven, in the longest outing for an opposing pitcher at Segra Stadium this year. Fayetteville got a solid performance from Leovanny Rodriguez who pitched three scoreless innings, but the Woodpeckers ultimately fell 3-1 at home.
The Blue Rocks knocked back-to-back hits to start the night against Woodpeckers starter JP France (4-8). Ricky Aracena immediately crushed a ball to left field to earn a leadoff double, moving to third on a wild pitch. Brewer Hicklen followed by launching his third homer in as many days, a two-run shot over the left field wall. The bomb was the 9th of the year for Hicklen and made it 2-0 Wilmington in the top of the first. In the bottom of the frame Cal Stevenson drew a walk to start the game for the Woodpeckers offense against Blue Rocks starter Kris Bubic (5-3). The baserunner was quickly eliminated when Michael Papierski grounded into a double play. With now two away Corey Julks smoked a two-bagger to right center that put a run-in scoring position for Fayetteville, but Bubic retired Chandler Taylor to end the inning.
France allowed just two more Wilmington baserunners in his next three frames of work, hitting Kyle Kassar with a pitch in the second and walking Coby Schultz in the third. France stranded both of those runners to keep it 2-0 Wilmington heading into the top of the fifth. Kyle Kassar sliced a single up a middle to start the frame, moving to second thanks to a sacrifice bunt from Sebastian Rivero. Colby Schultz followed by grounding to Scott Schreiber at first, who's throw back to France covering the bag was off target, allowing Schultz to move to second an Kassar to score an unearned run. The tally off the error pushed the Wilmington lead to three heading into the bottom of the fifth.
The Fayetteville offense struggled to hit Bubic after the first inning; the Blue Rocks starter retiring 12 straight batters after giving up the single to Julks. Finally, with two away in the bottom of the fifth David Hensley smacked a base hit that bounced into left field, finally breaking up that streak for Bubic on the mound. Hensley was left stranded after Scott Schreiber popped up in foul territory to end the frame.
Leovanny Rodriguez took over for JP France to start the sixth inning, making his 31st appearance in relief with Fayetteville this year. Rodriguez retired the Blue Rocks in order, including fanning two to start the day on the mound. In the seventh frame, Rodriguez also had a three up, three down inning a bit of a different way. Wilmington started by lacing a single up the middle off the bat of MJ Melendez. After Cristian Perez was retired, Melendez was picked off 1-3 by Rodriguez for out number two. Kyle Kassar blasted a double to put a run-in scoring position, but with Rivero at the plate Rodriguez threw out Kassar 1-4 to end another scoreless frame. All in all, Rodriguez went through the eighth for three innings of work with four strikeouts, not allowing a run in his time on the mound. Cesar Rosado took over for Fayetteville in the top of the ninth. The reliever gave up back-to-back singles to Hicklen and Kyle Isbel to start the frame, finally getting an out by fanning Dennicher Carrasco. The Blue Rocks responded by loading the bases on a walk drawn by Melendez, but Rosado escaped the danger when Perez hit into a double play. Still down 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth, the Blue Rocks attempted to get the complete game for Bubic. The Hensley knock was the last hit Fayetteville grabbed against Wilmington starter, who retired 11 straight, until Enmanuel Valdez blasted a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth. A groundout from Stevenson moved Valdez to third, coming home thanks to a sacrifice fly from Michael Papierski. The tally ended the shutout, but Bubic retired Corey Julks to toss his first complete game and secure a 3-1 Blue Rocks victory at Segra Stadium.
The Woodpeckers drop to 55-61 on the day and 24-23 in the second half. The Blue Rocks are now 66-49 overall and 22-24 in the second half. Fayetteville loses their second series in a row, after falling to Myrtle Beach in a three-game tilt earlier in the home stand. The Woodpeckers hit the road for the next three days, traveling to battle divisional foe Winston Salem starting tomorrow. Game one is set for Friday night at 7:00pm.
The Fayetteville Woodpeckers are the Advanced Single-A affiliate of the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros and play in their Inaugural Season at beautiful Segra Stadium in downtown Fayetteville. Segra Stadium, a $40 million state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue, features space for over 5,200 fans, natural grass, a 25x70 LED video scoreboard, six luxury suites, four field boxes, the premium AEVEX Veterans Club level, Healy's Bar and outdoor party deck, a kid's zone, and more. With a rich history of baseball in the city of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, the Woodpeckers are thrilled to write a new chapter with their inaugural campaign on Hay Street. Fans are encouraged to visit FayettevilleWoodpeckers.com to purchase tickets, learn more about the team, and find out about upcoming events and promotions at the ballpark. Fans may also reach the Woodpeckers by visiting the BB&T Box Office in front of Segra Stadium, calling (910) 339-1989, or emailing Woodpeckers@Astros.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.