The Fayetteville Woodpeckers took a lead in the second inning and never wavered, taking down the Wilmington Blue Rocks in a Wednesday night showdown. Miguelangel Sierra smashed his tenth homer of the year, Scott Manea went three-for-four, and the Woodpeckers racked up nine runs in the bottom of the eighth to defeat Wilmington 13-5. The offensive explosion in the frame set franchise records for the most runs and hits in a single inning. The lopsided Woodpeckers victory sets up a rubber match between the two quads tomorrow at Segra Stadium.
Luis Garcia (4-4) struck out the first two batters he faced, eventually sending Wilmington down in order. The Fayetteville starter did allow a baserunner in the second, walking Nick Pratto, but fanned three Blue Rocks for all three outs to end another scoreless frame. In the bottom of the second the Woodpeckers offense tacked on a pair against Wilmington starter Jonathan Bowlan (5-3). After the Blue Rocks hurler had retired five straight to start the game Enmanuel Valdez ripped a single to right field to finally get a baserunner for Fayetteville. Then Miguelangel Sierra stepped up to the plate and drilled a ball over the wall in right field, for Sierra's 10th homer of the year. The shot moved the infielder's RBI total to 35 on the year and also made it 2-0 Fayetteville after two innings of play.
The Woodpeckers extended their lead in the next inning, adding two more with Bowlan still on the mound. Scott Schreiber crushed a triple that just landed fair in the right field corner to start the inning. Cal Stevenson knocked into a 4-3 groundout to put one away, but then Michael Papierski sliced a single that brought Schreiber home. Fayetteville was not done as Chandler Taylor drew a two out walk that moved Papierski into scoring position. Scott Manea scored yet another run when he roped a base hit to left, allowing Papierski to score. Bowlan and company eventually ended the frame thanks to Kyle Isbel in center field, who made a sliding grab on a fly ball off the bat of Enmaneul Valdez. Still, the Woodpeckers did their damage making it 4-0 after three innings.
Luis Garcia retired six straight into the top of the fourth before giving up a single to Kyle Isbel who sliced a base hit to left field with one out. Isbel was left stranded on the bag after Garcia sent down the next two batters to continue his scoreless outing. Wilmington finally put two baserunners on in the top of the fifth against the Woodpeckers starter. Cristian Perez kicked the frame off by drawing a base on balls, moving to second on a single form Sebastian Rivero. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position with just one away, but Garcia once again retired the next two batters he faced to end the inning and preserve the Fayetteville four run lead. Garcia pitched one more scoreless frame for the Woodpeckers to complete six inning of shutout ball, giving up just two hits, while tying a career high ten strikeouts on the night.
In the top of the seventh with Joey Gonzalez on the hill for Fayetteville, Wilmington finally scored a run in the contest. Cristian Perez popped up in foul territory for out number one, followed by a walk drawn by Kyle Kassar. Colby Schultz pushed Kassar home by smacking a triple in the right field alley. The Blue Rocks added another in the top of the eighth against Gonzalez with Brewer Hicklen roping a leadoff base hit. The Fayetteville reliever retired the next two batters he faced, but Nick Pratto's ground rule double over the wall in right center drove Hicklen home to cut the Woodpeckers lead to just two.
In the bottom of the eighth with Wilmington's reliever Walker Sheller pitching, Cal Stevenson and Michael Papierski. Ross Adolph scored Stevenson with a single that trickled into right field and Chandler Taylor brought home Papierski with a single of his own. Scott Manea laced his third base hit of the day to left and notched his second RBI when he scored Adolph to make it 7-3 Woodpeckers. With Miguelangel Sierra due up and two runners on the Blue Rocks made a pitching change, sending out Robert Garcia to take over with just one away. The Fayetteville bats did not back down, with Sierra smashing the first extra base hit of the frame that scored Taylor. David Hensley and Scott Schreiber both racked up RBI singles of their own to make it 10-3 Woodpeckers, as Fayetteville batted around with still just one away. Cal Steveson loaded the bases against Garcia by drawing his second walk of the inning, with Micheal Papierski added an RBI to his stat line by knocking in Hensley. A fielder's choice finally chopped into by Ross Adolph scored another run, but he did force out number two in the frame. A wild pitch added yet another tally, with Garcia finally ending the disastrous inning by fanning Chandler Taylor. All in all, the Woodpeckers added nine runs and seven hits in the bottom of the eighth, both franchise records, making it 13-2 Fayetteville heading into the top of the ninth. With the comeback a lofty goal the Blue Rocks gave it their best shot with Brewer Hicklen launching a three-run shot, but Riley Kabral secured the Woodpeckers win by fanning the side to solidify a 13-5 Fayetteville win.
The Woodpeckers move to 55-60 on the year and 24-22 in the second half. Fayetteville still holds on to a playoff spot in the south with the win and also moves the season record against the Blue Rocks to 6-7. The two squads will square off tomorrow with the series on the line at Segra Stadium. JP France will get the start 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.