ZEBULON, N.C. (DEWDS) – With the Woodies trailing by two, and down to their final strike in the ninth inning, Julio Pablo Martinez cranked a three-run home run to right field to push the Woodies in front, 6-4, on their way to a last-at-bat victory, over the Mudcats on Saturday.
The home run was Martinez’ third of the season, and he has hit one in each of the first two games of the series against Carolina (29-20).
The Wood Ducks (33-17) got on the board first, in the first inning. Yonny Hernandez led off the ballgame with a single to left, and Leody Taveras followed with an opposite-field double, to put two in scoring position. Ryan Dorow then followed with an RBI groundout to put the Wood Ducks on top, 1-0.
The Woodies pushed the advantage to 2-0 in the fifth. Martinez reached on a double that bounced away from the second baseman Nick Roscetti. Martinez then stole third and on the throw down, the ball bounded away from Eddie Silva, and Martinez came into score to double the lead.
Meanwhile, Sal Mendez was sensational in his third start for the Wood Ducks. He faced the minimum through four innings and finished the fifth having allowed just two walks. Mendez also struck out a career-high eight.
The Mudcats got to him for the first time in the sixth. Roscetti led off with a bunt single to break up the no-hit bid and Devin Hairston followed with a single to center. Then with two outs, Mario Feliciano belted his ninth home run of the season, to put the Mudcats in front, 3-2.
Mendez went six innings giving up three runs on four hits, he walked two and struck out eight.
The Woodies responded immediately in the seventh against Noah Zavolas. Sam Huff tripled to right-center to begin the inning, and Anderson Tejeda followed with a sacrifice fly to center one batter later, tying the game at 3-3.
Zavolas went seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned), on six hits, he struck out five and did not walk a batter.
Wes Robertson (win, 1-0) took over for the Wood Ducks and worked a clean seventh. He retired the first two batters in the eighth, but then gave up a solo home run to Tristen Lutz, which put Carolina ahead, 4-3.
Clayton Andrews (loss, 1-2) then came on for the save in the ninth. He gave up a one-out single to Huff, and then Yohel Pozo singled with two away to extend the ballgame. That brought Martinez to the plate, and down to his final strike, he delivered the knockout blow.
Joe Barlow (save, 4) then worked a scoreless ninth inning, working around a two-out.
The Wood Ducks and Mudcats play game three of their four-game set Sunday night at 6 p.m. Lefty Jake Latz (2-1, 3.09) will take the hill for the Woodies, opposed by Carolina righty Braden Webb (0-0, 2.45). The broadcast will begin at 5:50 p.m. on 960AM The Bull, and online at 960thebull.com as well as on the MiLB First Pitch and TuneIn Radio Apps.