ZEBULON, N.C. - Luis La O hit a two-run home run in the second and Wood Ducks' starter Richelson Pena worked through six solid frames Down East defeated the Mudcats 4-2 in front of a crowd of 5,004 on Friday night at Five County Stadium.
The Wood Ducks (35-55, 11-10) won their second straight in the series and took a two games to one advantage in the four game set with Friday's game three victory. Pena (6-4, 2.91) earned the win after working through a quality start and relievers Jacob Shortslef and Adam Choplick combined on three scoreless frames to finish the game.
Shortslef (H, 2) pitched through two scoreless innings and struck out three for the Wood Ducks. Choplick (S, 5) then worked the ninth and earned his second straight save after pitching scoreless inning with one strikeout.
The Mudcats (46-44, 10-12) scored the final two runs of the game between the fifth and sixth, but were just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left five men on in the loss. Of the five stranded runners, two were left on between the seventh and eighth innings.
Pena (6-4, 2.91) struck out five, walked one and allowed just two runs on five hits over six innings and earned the victory for Down East.
The Mudcats rallied for two hits against Pena in the fourth after Troy Stokes Jr. singled and Jake Gatewood had a double in what ended up being a scoreless inning. Gatewood's double nearly scored Corey Ray (who had reached on a force out) from first, but a good relay in from left caught Ray attempting to score standing at the plate.
Stokes later doubled and a scored a run in the sixth and was 2-for-3 with a run and a walk. Gatewood also had two hits and was 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI in the loss. Carolina's first run was scored by Isan Diaz in the fifth after he walked and later scored on a force grounded into by Jose Cuas.
Kodi Medeiros (3-7, 5.04) started and pitched through the sixth for the second consecutive time, but ended up taking the loss after allowing four runs on four hits in the game. He also walked three, hit three batters and struck out seven.
La O's two-run home run in the second gave the Wood Ducks the early lead and was his eighth of the season. It was also just the second hit allowed by Medeiros in the game.
The Wood Ducks later added on two more runs in the fifth when Josh Morgan drove in a run while hitting into a bases loaded force to first. Their second run in the fifth came in after catcher Cooper Hummel lost a passed ball with two runners on.
Medeiros worked his way out of two bases loaded jams in the fifth while escaping with just two runs allowed in the inning. He went on to work through the sixth, but left before the seventh after reaching 95 pitches (60 strikes) in the game.
Wuilder Rodriguez followed Medeiros out of the Carolina pen and went on to pitch through three scoreless frames with one walk and two strikeouts. Rodriguez finished the game for Carolina and needed 46 pitches (31 strikes) to get through the final three innings.
The Wood Ducks finished the game just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base. They also finished with only four hits, but still scored four runs while winning game three of the four game series.
NOTES: Friday's game was delayed by :45 minutes after persistent rain earlier in the day soaked Five County Stadium and forced a later than anticipated start time.
UP NEXT: The four game series will conclude on Saturday night in Zebulon with the first pitch scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at Five County Stadium. Right-hander Conor Harber (1-6, 6.10) will start for the Mudcats in Saturday's series finale versus the Wood Ducks. A Carolina victory would leave the Mudcats with a series split. The game will air on the Mudcats Radio Network, The Big Dawg 98.5 FM and online at carolinamudcats.com via TuneIn Radio. It will also stream via live video on MiLB.tv.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.