Hoping to kickstart a new winning streak against a team they have had success against so far this season, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers instead found themselves on the wrong end of a doubleheader sweep in Maryland, falling to the Frederick Keys 3-2 in both contests on Saturday. Salting the already open wound, Frederick won both games in walkoff fashion, already the third and fourth walkoff losses that Fayetteville has suffered this season.
As many of the past few games for Fayetteville have, the Woodpeckers struck first in the series opener, when Seth Beer launched a solo home run to right field, his eighth of the season. Unfortunately for Fayetteville, however, that would be their only attack on Keys starter Blaine Knight. Knight, making his Carolina League debut on Saturday, only allowed three total runners to reach safely across six frames on the mound. Those six frames were enough to give Frederick the opportunity to come back.
Equally outstanding, Parker Mushinski logged four scoreless frames to open his day, allowing only three baserunners across, but ran into trouble in the fifth inning. Allowing a trio of singles, and committing a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, Mushinski surrendered the lead as the Keys scratched across a pair of runs. The left-hander was still able to complete the frame and notch a scoreless sixth inning, logging the first quality start of his career.
Entering the seventh inning against Diogones Almengo, Fayetteville was gifted a chance on a throwing error by Keys third baseman Jomar Reyes to put runners at the corners with no outs, a chance that was capitalized on by a sacrifice fly by Corey Julks to tie the game. The blown save for Almengo (2-1) only set him up for the eventual win.
Hoping for an extra frame to try and break the tie, Fayetteville turned to Tanner Duncan for his first appearance since being transferred from Triple-A Round Rock. After a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt, Duncan picked up a strikeout and was one strike away from earning the save, but the right-hander walked two consecutive batters to load the bases. Reigning League Player of the Week Willy Yahn stepped into the box and served a single just over second base to secure the Keys' first win over Fayetteville this season.
After the intermission, each side relied on strong pitching once again for game two. Frederick starter David Lebron picked up six strikeouts without allowing a hit over his first three innings, while JP France allowed only one hit and struck out seven batters over his first four innings on the mound for Fayetteville. Lebron was the first to eventually blink, when he surrendered a two-out walk in the fourth inning that was followed by a two-run home run to right-center field by Jonathan Arauz.
Working with a lead for the first time, France allowed a pair of baserunners as he approached his pitch limit in the fifth inning, necessitating Willy Collado to be summoned from the Bullpen. Collado allowed one of the inherited runners to score on a double before escaping the frame with the Fayetteville lead trimmed to just one run. As Frederick pressured Collado over the final three frames, the Woodpeckers offense was unable to find an answer for Matthias Dietz, as the right-hander logged his best outing of the season in relief for Frederick.
Entering the bottom of the seventh inning with the lead still intact, Collado opened the frame with a groundout followed by an infield single. Center fielder Cole Billingsley was finally able to push the tying run across when he doubled to left field for the second time in as many at bats against Collado. Advancing on the throw to the infield, Billingsley was able to score the winning run easily on a sacrifice fly to center field just two batters later.
With the pair of losses, Fayetteville has now dropped 12 of their last 15 games and sit at a franchise worst four games under .500, including a nine-game deficit in the South Division standings. Fayetteville will try to avoid being swept for the third time in just their fifth series. Chad Donato will start the series finale at Nymeo Field on Sunday at 1:00PM
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.