KINSTON, NC (WOOD DUCKS MEDIA RELATIONS) – The Down East offense exploded for eight runs in after a 21-inning scoring drought ended in its victory over Wilmington 8-7. Chuck Moorman had a three-hit day which included his first home run of the season and Ricardo Rodriguez closed out his sixth save in as many tries in the victory.
The last time the Wood Ducks had scored an earned run was Jairo Beras ‘ leadoff home run on Tuesday against Potomac. He was in the leadoff spot again on Friday and started with a double to left field. He would score with two outs during Michael O’Neill ‘s at-bat when a passed ball got through Chase Vallot.
Wilmington, who avoided every shutdown inning attempt from the Wood Ducks, responded in the second when Vallot redeemed himself with a solo home run to center. It was his second homer in as many nights, this one off Woodies’ starter Wes Benjamin . The next two frames was where most of the action occurred.
Five runs scored on four hits and an error in the second for the Woodies. Moorman’s first hit of the night was a double to right field and he would eventually score on a Josh Morgan sac fly. Josh Altman and Luis La O added run-scoring hits as well. Four different Wood Ducks had an RBI on Friday with Moorman and Altmann each collecting two to lead the way. The score was 6-1 after two innings.
In response, the Blue Rocks hung a four on the board in the third to make things interesting. Elier Hernandez had an RBI single and Anderson Miller clocked a three-run home run to make it a one-run game, 6-5. Benjamin would settle down after that, leaving three runners on base in his final two innings of work.
From innings three through five, the Woodies offense went quiet. Moorman led off the sixth inning with a solo blast to left off reliever Jared Ruxer to push the lead to two again. No shutdown frame would come for the Wood Ducks bullpen, when Wander Franco knocked a bases loaded single to restore the one-run game.
Yet, Moorman still wasn’t done. In the bottom of the seventh he added an RBI single to left to score O’Neill from second base it was back to a two-run lead, 8-6. The Blue Rocks loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning against Omarlin Lopez , but he induced a double play ball to Hernandez to diffuse the threat. A run did come in on the play but Rodriguez entered for a four-out save and struck our Miller to end the inning.
He was back for the ninth and he retired the side leaving the tying run on first with two strikeouts. It was the sixth save of the season for Rodriguez, a mark that leads the league.
Saturday is a battle of top prospects with lefty Brett Martin (1-1, 2.25) on the mound for the Woodies against last year’s top pick for the Royals, RHP A.J. Puckett (2-2, 3.00). First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. and you can listen to every pitch of the 2017 season live on Sports/Talk 960 The Bull or streamed live on the TuneIn Radio app.