BUIES CREEK, NC - A late-arriving offense thrived in the middle innings to back a career-long performance from Steven Bruce in the Wood Ducks' (24-24, 48-69) series-opening win over the Astros (31-16, 68-49) by a 6-4 final. Bruce worked past the sixth inning for the first time as a professional,
BUIES CREEK, NC - A late-arriving offense thrived in the middle innings to back a career-long performance from Steven Bruce in the Wood Ducks' (24-24, 48-69) series-opening win over the Astros (31-16, 68-49) by a 6-4 final. Bruce worked past the sixth inning for the first time as a professional, finishing seven and two-thirds while matching a career-high with six strikeouts.
Yanio Perez and Carlos Garay delivered a pair of RBIs in the contest as the Wood Ducks never trailed after the fourth inning. The game started in the complete opposite direction.
Both starters were rolling to start the game as Brett Adcock retired the Wood Ducks order in perfect fashion the first time through. Bruce retired the first six batters of the game before a solo home run from Carmen Benedetti opened the scoring in the third.
Down East responded in the fourth when Lipka opened the inning with a perfect bunt single. Later in the inning, Perez and Garay would each supply a run with singles to give the Woodies the lead 2-1. With the infield in and Perez on third, Ti'Quan Forbes hit a grounder to the left side of the infield that allowed Perez to score.
Buies Creek got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning on a wild pitch but Bruce would hit a groove from there by not allowing another hit until the eighth inning.
In the sixth, Luis La O led off with a double and advanced to third on a fielder's choice. He would score on a wild pitch from Adcock, which also allowed Josh Morgan to take second base. Morgan would score on Gray's second hit of the game two batters later. Through six, the Wood Ducks led the first-place Astros 5-2.
They added another in the top of the seventh when Perez drove in Matt Lipka from second base. Earlier in the inning, Lipka stole his 18th base of the season with the Woodies to take the team lead.
Bruce hit adversity in the eighth but had a chance to finish the inning against Stephen Wrenn, but he blooped a single to right to put runners on the corners with two outs. Jose Valdespina was brought in to end the inning, but back-to-back singles cashed in the inherited runners and trimmed the lead to 6-4 DEWD.
Valdespina bounced back in the ninth with a 1-2-3 frame and the Wood Ducks gained ground to 7.5 games back on the Astros with 22 games to play.
Game two of the three-game series is on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Righty Emerson Martinez (2-8, 4.41) will start opposite lefty Ryan Hartman (2-3, 3.48). You can listen to every pitch of the 2017 season live on Sports/Talk 960 The Bull or streamed live on the TuneIn Radio app.