The Fayetteville Woodpeckers lost their third straight game and second in a row to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Saturday night at Segra Stadium. The Woodpeckers pitching staff combined for a record day on the mound, fanning a franchise high eighteen batters but four errors committed defensively was ultimately Fayetteville's undoing. Chandler Taylor and Reuben Castro both smacked solo bombs and Cal Stevenson notched his first RBI in the Astros system to complete a Woodpeckers comeback heading into the eighth. However a pair of singles in the top of the ninth, scored the final run of the game to secure a 4-3 Myrtle Beach win.
Shawn Dubin started the day in the best way possible, fanning all three batters that he faced in the top of the inning, including catching Cam Balego looking to end the frame. The Woodpeckers offense went down in order as well in the first against Myrtle Beach starter Enrique De Los Rios, neither team getting a baserunner until the top of the second. In that frame Miguel Amaya reached first after Rueben Castro bobbled a ball at second for an error. Dubin was unfazed, getting both Grant Fennell and Aramis Ademan to bat the breeze and Delvin Zinn to ground out, ending another scoreless frame. Fayetteville took the lead 1-0 in the bottom of the second when Chandler Taylor smoked a leadoff home run off De Los Rios, the lone hit he'd allow all day. It was the second solo bomb in as many days for Taylor and his eighth this year with the Woodpeckers.
Dubin continued to dominate in the third, notching two more strikeouts for another shutout inning, but a quirky top of the fourth frame gave Myrtle Beach their first lead of the night. Cam Balego kicked things off for the Pelicans by knocking a slow roller that David Hensley misplayed, putting the tying run on the base paths for Myrtle Beach. Dubin then fanned Amaya, but then clipped Fennell to put two runners on for the first time in the game. Aramis Ademan followed by slicing a single to right field, that Chandler Taylor could not field correctly in right filed. The miscue and third error of the night for Fayetteville gave both Balego and Fennell time to score. The two tallies, while unearned, suddenly made it 2-1 Myrtle Beach with just one out. Dubin sent down both Delvin Zinn and Luke Reynolds, but the Woodpeckers now needed a comeback after three and a half innings of play.
Dubin returned in the top of the fifth with the Woodpeckers still down one, the Fayetteville hurler struck out the Kevonte Mitchell right away in the frame to break his previous strikeout record. Dubin would add another in the inning for out number two, making it 11 total Ks on the night, good for the third most by a single pitcher in franchise history. Myrtle Beach however put two runners on in the fifth against the Woodpeckers starter, Carlos Sepulveda laced a single and then Rueben Castro committed yet another Fayetteville error to allow DJ Artis to reach. So with insurance runs on the base paths and Dubin having tossed 99 pitches, Yeremi Ceballos came in to get the final out for the Woodpeckers on the mound. The reliever immediately walked Amaya to load the bases, but left all three stranded when Fennell flew out to center to end the frame and keep it 2-1 Myrtle Beach.
Besides the Chandler Taylor home run the Woodpeckers could not put together any hits against De Los Rios, only getting one more baserunner against the Pelicans starter. That lone other runner was Rueben Castro who reached in the bottom of the third on an E6, but was left stranded as the Woodpeckers were limited to just one knock until the sixth. The Pelicans on the other hand stretched out their lead in the top of the sixth, thanks to a two out solo shot from Luke Reynolds. The homer against Ceballos, launched over the left field wall for Reynolds fourth shot with Myrtle Beach and gave the Pelicans a 3-1 lead.
Fayetteville finally got another knock against the first Myrtle Beach reliever in Garrett Kelly in the bottom of that frame. Rueben Castro stepped up to the plate and immediately skied the ball to Healy's bar in right field, his second homer of the year. The bomb also gave the Woodpeckers their first hit since the second inning and made it a one run game again. Kelly was not rattled, locking in and sending down the next three Woodpeckers batters he faced to keep it 3-2 Pelicans heading into the seventh.
In his final inning of work Ceballos went three up, three down to put the Woodpeckers in a spot for a rally heading into the bottom of the seventh. Chandler Taylor continued his hot streak by starting the comeback by smashing a two bagger to put the tying run in scoring position for Fayetteville. Miguelangel Sierra followed with a base hit, moving Taylor to third and with the tying run finally scoring when Cal Stevenson hit into a fielder's choice. It was Stevenson's first RBI in his first game with Fayetteville since being traded from the Blue Jays system and also tied the game up a three apiece. Pelicans reliever Chad Hockin (1-1) fanned the next two batters he faced but both teams were now back to the drawing board heading into the final two frames.
In his second relief appearance Riley Kabral (1-1) stepped on the mound and retired the first four batters he faced into the ninth, with the games still tied. However with one out, Luke Reynolds roped a single and then moved to second on a wild pitch. Kabral got the second out by fanning Kevonte Mitchell, but an RBI single from Sepulveda gave Myrtle Beach their one run lead back. Kabral ended the inning with another strikeout, the 18th of the day for Woodpeckers pitching, setting a franchise record. In need of a walk off, Fayetteville could not get the bats going, as all three batters struck out to end the game and give the Pelicans a 4-3 victory. The Woodpeckers drop to 53-59 on the year and are now tied with Myrtle Beach for that second playoff spot in the South Division. The Pelicans move to 43-67 overall and 22-21 in the second half. Fayetteville looks to avoid the sweep tomorrow in the final game of a three game series. Cody Deason is set to climb the hill for Fayetteville with first pitch set for 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.