KINSTON, NC (WOOD DUCKS MEDIA RELATIONS) – A late stumble from the bullpen was the difference in the Wood Ducks’ 6-4 loss to the Blue Rocks in Sunday’s series opener. Both Preston Scott and Tyler Sanchez hit their second home runs of the year in the defeat.
The loss marks four straight losses for Down East and their 20th at home this season. Yet the crowd support still came in the form of 2,088 fans in attendance – the largest Sunday crowd of the season.
Jeffrey Springs started on the mound for the Wood Ducks and allowed two walks in the first inning. Later with two outs and two strikes, Chris DeVito knocked a single to left-center to score Nicky Lopez to get Wilmington on the board first. The southpaw threw 32 pitches in the frame, factoring in the rest of his start.
Yet with two outs and two strikes also on Scott in the bottom of the inning, he lined a solo homer over the wall in left to tie the game. The Wood Ducks would not be done later against Blue Rocks starter Cristian Castillo.
In the third, the bases were loaded with one out for Luis La O . He bounced a grounder toward short for a potential double play. Flores flipped to Burt, but he threw the ball away into the Wilmington dugout to allow two runs to score on the error.
Springs failed to get a shutdown inning in the fourth when Nate Esposito knocked a single to right-center to score DeVito. With runners on second and third and one out, Springs struck out the next to batters to avoid further damage and preserve the lead, 3-2.
DeVito returned to the plate in the fifth with two outs again and a man on first. He fell behind in the count 1-2 before lining a double to deep left field to score Anderson Miler from first. Both starters exited after five in the tied game.
Sanchez led off the sixth with his solo blast to left off Jacob Bodner. The fifth hit of the afternoon for the Wood Ducks turned out to be their last as the next 12 batters were retired in a row by Bodner and Richard Lovely.
Adam Choplick was working his second inning of relief in the seventh when he issued a one-out walk to Burt. Next, Miller rolled a ground ball to La O at third, but he bobbled the catch and allowed Miller to reach. Instead of a potential inning-ending double play, the seventh continued.
After a walk to Downes loaded the bases, Choplick managed to strike DeVito out for the first time in the game. With right-handed Wander Franco due up, Howard Johnson opted for the righty Scott Williams .
He worked ahead 0-2 but Franco bounced a line drive off of Williams’ leg and it ricocheted to the third base line for an infield single to tie the game 4-4. Roman Collins followed with the fatal blow – a two-run single to right-center to push the Blue Rocks back in front for good.
Game two of the three game set is Monday night at 7:00 p.m. Lefty Frank Lopez will make his first start as a Wood Duck, as he is countered by right-hander Andres Machado. You can listen to every pitch of the 2017 season live on Sports/Talk 960 The Bull or streamed on the TuneIn Radio app.