Earlier in the week the Fayetteville Woodpeckers clinched a playoff berth, but a one run victory against the Down East Wood Ducks Sunday evening solidified Fayetteville as winners of the second half in the Southern Division. Luis Garcia and Cesar Rosado combined for seventeen strikeouts on the mound, holding Down East to just one run. Chandler Taylor blasted a home run 437 feet over the right field wall and David Hensley smacked the game winning RBI double in the bottom of the eighth to cement a 2-1 Fayetteville victory.
Woodpeckers starter Luis Garcia fanned seven of the first nine batters he faced, pitching a perfect game through three at Segra Stadium. On the mound for Down East Reid Anderson gave up two walks and a single through the first three innings of play, but still managed to hold Fayetteville scoreless. Neither team got on the board until the fourth inning, with Down East striking first to take a lead. JP Martinez became the first baserunner allowed by Garcia to leadoff the fourth when he drew a walk of the Woodpeckers hurler. Sam Huff followed by knocking the first Wood Ducks' hit of the game to center that moved the go ahead run into scoring position. With Curtis Terry at the plate Garcia tossed a wild pitch over the head of Scott Manea that moved the runners to second and third. Garcia immediately followed with another off target pitch that scooted by the Fayetteville catcher, allowing Martinez to sprint home and score. Huff jogged to third on the play and then Terry drew a free pass, with still nobody out in the frame. Garcia fanned Sherten Apostel for out number one, but then gave up a single to Diosbel Arias. The slice off Arias' bat took a hop in the center before reaching the glove of Cal Stevenson who zipped a perfect ball to Scott Manea, with Fayetteville's catcher tagging Huff out right in front of home plate. The 8-2 outfield assist stopped a run from scoring and also was out number two in the frame. Garcia ended the inning when he forced Yohel Pozo to fly out, limiting the damage and keeping it a slight 1-0 Down East lead.
Chandler Taylor did not waste much time getting the Woodpeckers back into the game in the bottom of the fourth. The Fayetteville slugger led of the frame by crushing a solo shot to right field, that essentially cleared Healy's bar for the longest homer in Woodpeckers history. Taylor's 14th homer of the year and 50th RBI of the season knotted the game up at one apiece, but the rest of the Fayetteville offense was not able to tack on any more scores keeping it tied heading into the fifth inning.
Garcia finished his night on the hill by pitching two more scoreless frames, tossing six total and fanning 12 Down East batters. The Woodpeckers hurler has 52 strikeouts in his last five outings, reaching double digit Ks in four of his last five starts. Wood Ducks starter Reid Anderson pitched a shutout sixth to finish his night, having allowed just four hits, one run, and fanning seven. Both teams made a pitching a change in the seventh with Fayetteville sending out Cesar Rosado (3-7), while Down East turned to Sam Hellinger (1-1). The Woodpeckers reliever retired the Wood Ducks in order in the top of the seventh, striking out two to keep it knotted up at one. In the bottom of the frame, Hellinger gave up back-to-back baserunners off a walk to Michael Papierski and a single from Miguelangel Sierra. However, the Down East bullpen arm got out of the jam thanks to a double play and a fly out that ended the inning.
Rosado dealt with his first baserunner of the game when he walked Josh Altmann to start the top of the eighth, however a successful pickoff attempt and two more strikeouts once again held the Wood Ducks scoreless. Meanwhile the Fayetteville offense finally came alive in the bottom of the eighth, with Cal Stevenson kicking things off by blasting a double to center. Chandler Taylor followed by drawing a free pass, leading to Down East making a pitching change; calling on Michael Matuella to get out of the jam as there were still no outs. With a new hurler on the mound, David Hensley immediately smoked a double off the wall in right center that brought home Stevenson and put the Woodpeckers up for the first time in the contest. Taylor moved to second on Hensley's double and Scott Manea loaded the bases when he was intentionally walked. Matuella however retired the next three batters he faced to end the inning a leave the bases stranded with Fayetteville up 2-1 heading into the top of the ninth.
With not a lot of wiggle room Woodpeckers reliever Rosado retired the side in order to cement a Fayetteville win and clinch the second half in the Southern Division. Fayetteville moves to 40-29 in the second half, while the Wood Ducks are 37-31 in the second half. The Woodpeckers already won the final series of the regular season but still look to finish the regular season on a high note tomorrow against Down East. First pitch on Labor Day is scheduled 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.