Winston tops Down East 7-4 in series opener at Grainger Stadium

Devan Watts earns first win as White Sox farmhand

Blake Rutherford crushed his seventh home run of the season to lift the Dash over Down East. (Robert Hill/Winston-Salem Dash)

By Winston-Salem Dash | August 31, 2018 10:12 PM

KINSTON, N.C. (Aug. 31, 2018) - The Dash used a five-run third inning and 3.1 innings of perfect relief from Devan Watts to overcome the Wood Ducks 7-4 on Friday night at Grainger Stadium. With the win, Winston-Salem (41-24, 82-53) finishes the month of August with a 17-9 record.

Down East (23-44, 58-79) got on the board first, plating a run in the second inning against Kyle KubatWith one out, Chuck Leblanc singled, moved to third on a double from Yaino Perez and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Brendon Davis. 

But the Dash responded in a big way in the top of the third. Luis Robert led off the inning by shooting a single to centerfield, and then moved to second on a walk to Luis GonzalezNext, Nick Madrigal laid a perfect bunt down the first-base line for a single, and Jason Bahr (2-4) threw wide of first base to allow Robert to scoot home from second base. Blake Rutherford followed with an RBI single to bring home Gonzalez, setting the stage for Yermin MercedesThe Dash backstop clobbered Bahr's 2-0 over the left-field fence for a three-run homer, his team-leading 14th long ball of the season, to put Winston-Salem on top 5-1.  

Winston-Salem added on in the next inning. With two out and Gonzalez and first base, Rutherford lined an two-run homer down the left-field line to make it a 7-1 game. The opposite-field blast is Rutherford's seventh home run of the season. 

The Wood Ducks clawed back over the next two innings. In the fourth, Andretty Cordero and Leblanc lined back-to-back singles to start the inning. Then, after Kubat struck out Perez, Davis and Josh Altman laced back-to-back RBI singles to cut the Dash lead to 7-3.

Down East drew closer in the fifth. Leody Taveras walked to start the inning, and then moved to second on a bunt single from LeDarious Clark. Next, Kubat fired a pickoff throw to first that hit Clark in the back and allowed Taveras to move to third. Three batters later, Leblanc drilled an RBI double off the fence in left field to score Taveras to make it 7-4. 

With runners on second and third and two outs in the fifth, Watts (1-2) entered the game and ended the Down East threat by inducing a lineout to center from Perez. Watts remained in the game for the next three innings, ultimately retiring all 10 batters he faced. The Dash right-hander threw 27 pitches (21 strikes) and struck out four en route to earning his first win as a White Sox farmhand. 

Tyler Johnson closed out the game in the ninth, needing just nine pitches to retire the Wood Ducks in order to pick up his sixth save at the High-A level. Watts and Johnson combined to retire the final 13 batters of the game. 

The Dash's series against the Wood Ducks continues on Saturday, when right-hander Lincoln Henzman (0-1, 2.93 ERA) faces left-hander Tyler Thomas (0-1, 2.25 ERA). First pitch is at 6 p.m., and pregame coverage begins at 5:45 p.m. Fans can catch all of the action on and the TuneIn Radio App. 

Following the end of the regular season, the Dash begin their chase for a Mills Cup Championship. Winston-Salem's playoff run, presented by Pepsi and NCDOT, begins with a matchup against the Buies Creek Astros in the Southern Division Championship Series. After the first two games of the series in Buies Creek, Winston-Salem returns to BB&T Ballpark for Game 3 on Friday, September 7, with first pitch at 7 p.m.

Prior to game three, a Food Truck Festival will take place at BB&T Ballpark starting at 5 p.m. If necessary, Games 4 and 5 of the Southern Division Championship Series will be hosted at the downtown facility. Game three will mark the first postseason contest at BB&T Ballpark since 2015. For tickets and more information, call the Dash at (336) 714-2287 or visit

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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