KINSTON, NC - In front of a standing-room-only crowd of 4,267, the Down East Wood Ducks reopened Grainger Stadium with a 4-3 walk-off victory over the Winston-Salem Dash in 10 innings. Luis La O hit a slow roller to short, and Johan Cruz overthrew first base which allowed Josh Altmann (who reached on a double) to score.
Brett Martin turned in the best performance by a Woodies starter so far this season with seven strikeouts in his five and a third innings pitched. In the first inning, he was immaculate - throwing 10 pitches for 10 strikes with two punch outs. He would end up with a no decision.
Despite the strong start by Martin, it was the Dash who struck first blood in the third. Jake Fincher beat out an infield single with two outs then stole second during Alex Call's at bat. Then, Call would hit his first of three hits on the night to drive in Fincher and give the Dash the lead.
It would not take long for the Wood Ducks to respond in the bottom half on Dash starter Aron McRee. They created their own two-out rally with hits from La O and Josh Morgan to send Eduard Pinto to the plate. He would go the other way with a grounder that squirted under Danny Mendick's mitt at third to plate the tying run.
Another error brought in two more runs in the fifth and Pinto again was at the center of it. With runners on second and third, Pinto hit a fly ball down the left field line where it was dropped by Louis Silverio to allow two runs to score. After five innings, the score was 3-1 Woodies.
Jason Richman came from the bullpen to finish the sixth and seventh innings, while in the eighth he ran into trouble with two outs. With a man on first, Zack Collins hit a single through the right side but Pinto misplayed the ball for a moment allowing both baserunners to gain an extra 90 feet to second and third. Richman was lifted for Ricardo Rodriguez.
He worked ahead in the count against Silverio with two strikes before he laced a double to left-center to tie the game at three. All the while, the Dash bullpen was stymieing the Wood Ducks bats - retiring 11 batters in a row at one point.
Neither team could score again in the ninth inning and the game moved to extra innings. Rodriguez found himself in more danger by loading the bases with one out and Aaron Schnurbusch at the plate. He managed a weak ground ball to short, where Morgan stepped on the bag and threw to first in time for the inning-ending double play.
Altmann hit a one-out double in the bottom of the tenth against Ian Hamilton, which set the stage for La O as the next batter to walk it off on the third Dash error of the night.
The teams regroup on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. with right-handers Tanner Banks and Peter Fairbanks on the mound for the Dash (0-5) and the Wood Ducks (4-1) respectively. You can listen to every pitch of the Wood Ducks season on Sports/Talk 960 The Bull.