After facing elimination just a day prior, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers roared back to eliminate the Down East Wood Ducks and claim the Carolina League South Division Championship on Sunday. Shawn Dubin hurled six strong innings while the Woodpeckers rode a four-run seventh inning to capture the title on a 6-3 final. Fayetteville used four relievers to clinch the divisional title, stranding a tying runner at first base to end the game.
A game of two halves, both Fayetteville and Down East were silenced by opposing pitching to start the evening. Following an 18-inning scoreless streak to end the regular season, Shawn Dubin was near-perfect over his first three innings, only allowing a single baserunner on an error. Shawn was finally nicked for a single in the fourth inning when Sam Huff slapped a ball against the shift and advanced to second base on a passed ball. Huff raced home to score the first run of the game when Diosbel Arias flared another single toward right field. Dubin reset from the attack to quiet the Wood Ducks into the seventh inning. The two hits in the fourth inning were the only ones Dubin (W, 1-0) would surrender in the winning effort. Cesar Rosado took over for Dubin following a leadoff walk in the seventh inning, and the right-hander went on to walk two batters of his own before stranding the bases loaded. Rosado blinked in the eighth inning, however, when he walked another two batters and allowed a 2-RBI double to Yohel Pozo, trimming the Fayetteville lead at that point to only two runs at 5-3. Riley Cabral polished off the last batter of the eighth inning, and while Jacob Billingsley tried to toss a scoreless ninth, the right-hander had to be replaced by Leovanny Rodriguez after Billingsley walked two batters to open the frame. Rodriguez (SV, 1) worked around a bases-loading error to bring Fayetteville one out from the South Division title, and he caped the day by catching Sherten Apostel with a breaking ball on the outside corner of the zone for the punchout.
While they trailed early, silenced by starter Alex Eubanks, Fayetteville finally struck back in the sixth inning when Chandler Taylor blasted a leadoff home run well beyond the right field wall. Fayetteville threatened with another runner in the same frame, but reliever Josh Advocate was able to settle and maintain the tie. Entering the seventh inning, Scott Engler was in for a rough day, as Engler (L, 0-2) faced four batters, but recorded no outs. Marty Costes laced a bases-loaded double to left-center field to give Fayetteville the 3-1 lead and chase Engler from the contest. With very few pitchers rested, Down East was forced to go to closer Joe Kuzia for the remainder of the game. Kuzia quickly allowed both inherited runners to score when David Hensley bounced a single into center field. Kuzia was able to keep his own scorecard clean until the ninth inning, when Fayetteville collected an RBI double from Ruben Castro for insurance. In whole, all but one batter for Fayetteville reached safely in the deciding game, while each of the first four batters scored at least one run.
Advancing to the Mills Cup Championship Series, Fayetteville will now look on toward a best-of-five series with the North Division Champion Wilmington Blue Rocks. Games one and two will be played in Wilmington starting on Tuesday, with the remaining three games to be played in Fayetteville. With an off day scheduled between rounds, Fayetteville will open their final series of 2019 at Frawley Stadium on Tuesday, with the first pitch of game one scheduled for 6:35PM.
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.