After a 10-run showing the night before, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers came entirely short on Wednesday, collecting only five hits in a 5-0 shutout loss to the Carolina Mudcats at Five County Stadium. Only the fourth shutout loss this season for Fayetteville, the Woodpeckers only managed to push three runners to third base across the contest. Nivaldo Rodriguez allowed only two hits in his first start in a month, while two bullpen arms allowed three runs on the night.
Making just his second start with the Mudcats following a late promotion, Scott Sunitsch paced his way through the Fayetteville offense in four quick innings. Sunitsch (W, 2-0) held the Woodpeckers without a hit into the fifth inning before finally surrendering a double to Scott Schreiber with two outs. Sunitsch would make way for a pair of relievers to close the night, starting with Matt Hardy, who danced around a quartet of base hits, keeping Fayetteville away from home plate for two innings. Following Hardy, Phil Bickford polished off the contest with a pair of perfect frames. Bickford, who entered the contest with 22 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings for Carolina, struck out five of the six batters he faced in the outing.
While the offense gave no room to work with, Nivaldo Rodriguez still worked a valiant effort in the loss. Rodriguez (L, 3-5) dispatched the first nine batters of the game before allowing a single to Brice Turang to open the fourth inning. Following a strikeout, Rodriguez eventually allowed the deciding run of the contest, when Pat McInerney blasted a two-run home run over the left field videoboard. Rodriguez would still send down the final five batters he, only dealing with two over the minimum in the losing effort. In relief, J.P. France immediately allowed an insurance run on a walk, a stolen base, and an RBI single by McInerney, as France was quickly lifted for Riley Cabral. Cabral's only blemish of the game came in the seventh inning when he allowed a pair of singles and hit two batters to give Carolina their final two runs on the night.
While the game started with a 41-minute delay due to approaching rain showers that never hit, the speedy affair clocked in at just 2:26, the fastest nine-inning game for Fayetteville this season. Fortunately for the Woodpeckers, dominant performances from the North Division means Fayetteville will not lose any ground in the playoff race, as both Down East and Myrtle Beach suffered losses on the evening. As Wednesday closes, Fayetteville still sits one-half game in first place, and their magic number to eliminate Myrtle Beach and clinch a playoff berth stands at just two. The Woodpeckers will have one final chance to win their season series with Carolina when the two side wrap up their four-game set on Thursday, with the first pitch from Five County Stadium coming 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.