The Fayetteville Woodpeckers evened the series with the Potomac Nationals behind a stellar night from the pitching staff and late game heroics from the Fayetteville offense. Shawn Dubin tossed a one run game through the fifth, striking out five and allowing just three hits. Brett Conine picked up right where his starter left off, allowing just one hit into the ninth. The righty hurler also fanned eight Potomac batters, one shy of record in relief for the Woodpeckers. With the game knotted at one apiece into the bottom of the eighth Woodpeckers vets Jake Adams and Michael Papierski notched RBIs, bringing home two runs to put the Woodpeckers on top. The 3-1 lead was enough for the Woodpeckers to put the Nationals away and soar to victory on Sunday night at Segra Stadium.
Shawn Dubin (4-2) started the evening by sending down six straight through the second inning, including striking out Gage Canning and KJ Harrison. On the mound for Potomac Nick Raquet sent down the first four Woodpeckers in order, finally allowing a baserunner off a single from Jonathan Arauz in the bottom of the second. Ross Adolph also slapped an infield base hit to put two on for Fayetteville with just one away but Raquet forced Michael Papierski into a double play that ended a scoreless frame for the Nationals.
The Potomac offense found some life against Dubin in the top of the third with Alex Dunlap kicking things off by drawing a leadoff walk. Omar Meregildo followed by smacking a single and then Osvaldo Abreau laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position for the P-Nats. Dubin was unfazed fanning Canning and getting Cole Freemen to ground out, securing another scoreless frame and leaving two Nationals' runners stranded. In the bottom of the third the Woodpeckers offense finally got on the board, with one away Miguelangel Sierra laced a single to left field. After Raquet got Jeremy Pena to fly out to center field he clipped Jacob Meyers with a pitch, moving Sierra to second. Next at the plate, Corey Julks sliced a base hit that dropped in center field, driving in Sierra for the first tally of the game. The inning ended on a pop up, but Julks earned his 26th RBI of the year and made it 1-0 heading into the top of the fourth.
The Nationals responded in the next frame starting with Aldrem Corredor who crushed a double off the wall in left field to lead off for Potomac. Dubin fanned Telmito Augustin but then walked KJ Harrison for runners at first and second with one out. Gilbert Lara struck out as well, but Alex Dunlap followed with a single that gave Corredor enough time to score. In the same play Harrison tried to make his way to third but in right fielder Corey Julks used his arm to throw the Nationals' runner out, end the inning and limit the damage. The 26th RBI of the year for Dunlap knotted the game up and sent the Woodpeckers back to the drawing board heading into the bottom of the fourth.
That score would stay the same until the bottom of the eighth, the game turning into a pitcher's duel for the rest of the contest. The Fayetteville offense was sent down in order in the bottom of the fourth by Raquet with Shawn Dubin mirroring in the top of the fifth, retiring Potomac three up, three down. The Woodpeckers made a pitching change in the top of sixth sending out Brett Conine to finish out the contest in a tandem day on the mound. The new Woodpeckers hurler faced off against Cole Freeman right away, who roped a double to right field and then moved to third on a E7 from Julks. Meaning essentially from the get go Conine had to deal with the go ahead runner 90-feet away. The righty refused to let the knock rattle him, locking in and striking out both Corredor and Agustin. Having successfully eliminated the threat of a sacrifice fly, Conine forced Harrison to ground out to strand Freeman and keep the score 1-1.
With Raquet on the mound through six, the Woodpeckers offense was stalled as the Potomac starter faced just one over the minimum in the fifth and sixth innings. In the bottom of the seventh Raquet tossed four balls to Ross Adolph for a leadoff runner and was immediately lifted, replaced by Andrew Istler (0-1). Istler gave up a flared single to center field against Michael Papierski, but then forced the Woodpeckers into a pair of fielder's choice outs and struck out Miguelangel Sierra to hold Fayetteville just short of taking the lead. The Woodpeckers offense did not let that happen again, with Meyers crushing a lead off two-bagger in the bottom of the eighth. Julks moved Meyers to third on an unassisted ground out to first, and then Jake Adams completed the trip around the bases smoking a double to left that scored Meyers. The tally finally broke the tie against a new pitcher in Jhonathan German, giving the Woodpeckers a 2-1 lead and Adams' his team-high 57th RBI of the year. Adams himself came home to notch an insurance run for Fayetteville, crossing thanks to Papierski's second single of the game that made it 3-1 Woodpeckers heading into the top of the ninth.
Brett Conine pitched an absolute gem on the mound for the Woodpeckers into the ninth frame. The Fayetteville hurler faced just one over the minimum and allowed just two baserunners after the sixth inning. Tasked with closing the game out in the top of the ninth, Conine fanned Agustin and Harrison to put two away. Conine was replaced for the final out, leaving to a big applause as Cesar Rosado finished off the job striking out Gilbert Lara to end the game and cement the 3-1 Fayetteville victory.
The Woodpeckers moved to 43-50 on the year and 12-12 in the second half, meanwhile the Nationals fall to 41-50 on the season. The win sets up another rubber match in this home stand for the Woodpeckers. The series finale is set for 7:00pm on Monday night with Austin Hansen set to climb the hill for Fayetteville.
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.