The Fayetteville Woodpeckers came to play in Wednesday nights doubleheader versus the Lynchburg Hillcats, walking-off the Hillcats in game one and silencing Lynchburg in game two. The first matchup saw the top prospect in the Astros system Forrest Whitley take the mound for Fayetteville, while a Woodpeckers vet Michael Papierski
The Fayetteville Woodpeckers came to play in Wednesday nights doubleheader versus the Lynchburg Hillcats, walking-off the Hillcats in game one and silencing Lynchburg in game two. The first matchup saw the top prospect in the Astros system Forrest Whitley take the mound for Fayetteville, while a Woodpeckers vet Michael Papierski went 3-for-4 including smacking the game winning single to lead the Woodpeckers to just their second walk-off win this season. Fayetteville picked up where they left off in game two, with Jake Adams launching his second homer of the day. That shot combined with Jojanse Torres becoming the first Woodpecker to go the distance and completely shutting out the Hillcats was a recipe for a 3-0 win. The sweep, means the Woodpeckers take control of both the current and season series with the Lynchburg thanks to the two wins.
In game one, the number one prospect in the Astros system Forrest Whitley started on the mound for the first time in a Woodpeckers uniform. The Fayetteville hurler gave up back-to-back hits in the top of the first, with Steven Kwan and Tyler Freeman slicing singles right away. Freeman however missed the bag and was tossed out due to the mistake for the first gone in the frame. Lynchburg, however, put runners at the corner when Willibus Santiago was clipped a pitch in the elbow. Oscar Gonzalez groaned out in a 1-3 putout, but the slow roller allowed Kwan to tag up and score the first run of the game. It was the team-high 56th RBI of the year for Gonzalez and made it 1-0 Hillcats after just a half a frame of play. The Woodpeckers offense did not waste anytime getting on the board in the bottom of first against Lynchburg starter Cody Morris. Jeremy Pena and Jonathan Arauz were retired in order, but then Corey Julks laced a two-out base hit to right field to put the tying run on the base paths. Representing the go-ahead run Jake Adams stepped up to the plate and launched a shot over the left field wall, his first homer in three weeks. The drought ending bomb marks the slugger's 14th this season and scored Julks to put the Woodpeckers on top 2-1 after the one frame of play.
Whitley retired eight batters in a row through the top of the fourth on the hill for Fayetteville, however Lynchburg put together a pair of singles from Gavin Collins and Will Benson, then a wild pitch moved Benson into third putting runners at the corners with one out. The Woodpeckers decided made a pitching change, tasking Cody Deason (1-2) with getting the final two outs of the frame. The Woodpeckers reliever forced Mitch Reeves to fly out to right center, but that gave Collins plenty of time to tag up and score on a sacrifice fly. After walking Jodd Carter, Deason fanned Tyler Friis to end the inning and keep it tied at two apiece heading into the bottom the fourth.
The offenses for both teams halted for a spell after that Lynchburg tally, with the game staying tied until the top of the sixth inning. With Deason still on the mound for the Woodpeckers, Gavin Collins roped a leadoff single to put the go ahead run on for the Hillcats. Will Benson followed by drawing a base on balls, with Benson moving along to third thanks to a fly out from Reeves. Now with the go-ahead run 90 feet away, Jodd Carter laid down a slow roller that Jake Adams bobbled charging in from first, allowing Benson to tally and Lynchburg to take the lead. Tyler Friis hit into a 4-3-6 double play that ended the inning, but for the first time since the first frame the Woodpeckers found themselves playing from behind.
The Woodpeckers offense went three up, three down in the bottom of the sixth with Lynchburg reliever Andrew Pinto on the mound. Deason mirrored with a spotless inning of his own, meaning Fayetteville went into the bottom of the seventh and final frame down just one run.
With Yapson Gomez (0-4) on the mound to finish out regulation for the Hillcats, Scott Manea and Miguelangel Sierra went down in order to put two away. Down to their final out the Fayetteville offense came up clutch, starting with a crushed double from Jeremy Pena. Up next at the plate, Jonathan Arauz ripped a single to center field that scored Pena and tied the game up once again. Gomez settled in and made the final out of the frame, but the Woodpeckers had successfully knotted it up at three and sent the game into extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Cody Deason retired the middle of the Hillcats lineup in order to put the Woodpeckers in a walkoff situation again. Gomez intentionally walked Adams to start, the frame with Corey Julks taking second to start per the rules of extras in the Carolina League. Gomez fanned Chandler Taylor for the first out of the frame and Jacob Meyers popped up in foul territory for the second out. With two runners on, Michael Papierski chopped a single off the glove of the third basemen Wilbis Santiago to score Julks and give the Woodpeckers their second walk off in franchise history.
In game two, Jojanse Torres (5-0) started on the mound throwing fire from the get go, allowing just one hit to Wilbis Santiago in the first frame. After that the Woodpeckers' hurler allowed just one more baserunner in his outing, when he walked Mitch Reeves in the second with two outs. Jason Rodriguez immediately hit into a fielders choice that forced the runner out and ended the inning, representing the last chance at a score the Hillcats would get against Torres.
In the top of the first the Woodpeckers offense put a trio tallies on the board to give Fayetteville an early lead. Jeremy Pena grounded out to start the day, but Jonathan Arauz followed with a one out double to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Corey Julks chopped an infield single, that moved Arauz to third but the throw to first was way over the head of first basemen Mitch Reeves allowing Arauz to cross home plate. With Julks sitting on first, Adams stepped to the plate and smashed his second two run shot of the day to make it 3-0 Woodpeckers. It was the 15th homer of the year for Adams and made it 65 RBIs on the year for the Fayetteville slugger. The Woodpeckers offense went three up, three down in the second and third against Lynchburg starter Brock Hartson (0-1), finally getting another baserunner when Jake Adams drew a leadoff walk in the top of the third. Adams swiped second in his fourth consecutive successful stolen base attempt but was thrown out by new Hillcats pitcher Randy Valladares trying to go for third. The Woodpeckers drew two more walks in the frame both against Valladares but could not get any runners home, as Lynchburg's right fielder Oscar Gonzalez threw out Papierski trying to score with a 9-2 outfield assist. Fayetteville would only get four more baserunners for the rest of the shortened contest, but with a 3-0 lead and a monster outing for their starting pitcher it was enough for a win.
Torres retired sixteen straight through the seventh and final inning, fanning eight on the night, walking just one batter and allowing just one hit on the night. The fifth inning was maybe the most impressive for Torres, striking out all three batters he faced. It was the first complete game for a Woodpeckers pitcher this year, topped off with the first complete shutout. It was also the fifth win for Torres on the mound this year, moving his record to 5-0 with the Woodpeckers this season.
With the sweep in the doubleheader the Woodpeckers move to 48-55 overall on the season and now take control Lynchburg 7-6 on the season series. The Hillcats on the other hand drop to 46-53 on the year and can only hope to tie the series with the Woodpeckers tomorrow. Game three and the finale against the Hillcats is scheduled for 7:00pm from Segra Stadium.
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 [email protected].