BUIES CREEK, NC - A split doubleheader between the Wood Ducks (36-32, 60-77) and the Astros (37-30, 74-63) creates a must-win scenario for the Wood Ducks in the last two games of the regular season in order to secure a playoff spot.
Pitching took center stage in the two games, as the Ducks combined to only allow three runs in the contests. Only in game two did the offense rise to the occasion as the Woodies avoided elimination in the nightcap.
Down East could not figure out Buies Creek starter Jorge Alcala in game one as the right-hander twirled seven shutout innings only allowing two hits. The Astros claimed the first game 1-0 and created a chance at clinching the half in the second game.
On an innings limit, Woodies starter Emerson Martinez wishes for just one pitch back in his five frames of work. He retired the first six batters of the game with no issues, but found himself dealing with the bases loaded and one out in the third.
On his first pitch to Stephen Wrenn, a fastball climbed up and in to clip Wrenn in the left shoulder to force in a run. Martinez would induce a popout and a groundout to leave the bases loaded, but exit trailing 1-0.
The two hits for the Wood Ducks came from Yanio Perez in the first and Josh Morgan in the seventh. In between, Alcala retired 16 Wood Ducks in a row. The game ended on an impressive double play started by shortstop Anibal Sierra with a glove flip to start the sequence.
With Down East's loss in the first contest, they had to win each of the last three games to earn a playoff spot. They got off on the right foot by scoring five runs in the first three innings to win 5-2. After only managing two hits in game one, the Wood Ducks mashed 14 of them in the finale.
Six different batters had two hits on the night and eight-of-nine starters had a hit. Luis La O opened the scoring in the first with an infield single to bring home Matt Lipka.
On the mound, Brett Martin got off to a tough start allowing a run in the bottom of the first, but he would manage to leave eight runners on base during his fourth win of the year.
Evan Van Hoosier connected on a solo blast to left in the second, his second homer of the season. After back-to-back hits from Josh Altmann and Lipka, Josh Morgan added an RBI double to left-center to bring home one more.
In the third, a Preston Scott triple down the right field line scored Carlos Garay all the way from first to keep the Wood Ducks in front. Two pitches later, Scott scored on a wild pitch to mark the score at 5-1.
Martin would complete five innings with only one walk and four strikeouts before handing the ball to Cole Wiper for the final six outs. Wiper left two stranded in the sixth by striking out the side. In only his third appearance with the Wood Ducks, he finished the game and the win.
Down East will turn to Kyle Cody on the mound on Sunday afternoon in a do-or-die game against righty Carson LaRue. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. and you can listen to every pitch live on Sports/Talk 960 The Bull or streamed on the TuneIn Radio app.