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Pecker Checker: Fayetteville Wins at Home

Houston’s Low-A affiliate victorious against the Fredericksburg Nationals.

Segra Stadium and the Fayetteville Woodpeckers played host to the Fredericksburg Nationals (and 3,319 fans) for the sixth time in six days on Sunday.

Up three-games-to-two, the Woodpeckers were looking to claim the six-game home series against the invaders on Sunday. Right-hander Rhett Kouba (1-0, 0.82) was slated to start for the home team, while the baby Nats had righty Brendan Collins (2-1, 5.72) ready to go.

As a farm team, most eyes from the major league level are on those considered “prospects.” Of course, everyone here is a prospect, however more is expected of three in particular. RHP Alex Santos (9, unavailable), OF Tyler Whitaker (10, not starting), and OF Logan Cerny (24, LF, batting third) currently call Fayetteville their baseball home.

The Nationals, meanwhile, have 10 of their top 30 prospects with Fredericksburg. SS Brady House (1, batting first), RHP Jackson Rutledge (4), RHP Andry Lara (6), OF Jeremy De La Rosa (13), 1B Brendan Bossiere (16, batting fifth), SS Sammy Infante (20), LHP Dustin Saenz (23), OF T.J. White (26, LF, batting seventh), SS Yoander Rivero (28), and RHP Mason Denaburg (29).

Fayetteville Woodpeckers 6, Fredericksburg Nationals 5

Scheduled to start the game at 2:05 PM EST, the game got underway two minutes late (but that’s normal). Kouba struck out the first batter, then got two easy outs for a perfect first. In the bottom of the inning, Kenedy Corona opened with a double down the right-field line, followed by walks for Leosdany Molina and Cerny. Bases loaded with nobody out, both Joey Loperfido and Justin Williams struck out. Cody Orr helped the Peckers avoid the NOBLETIGER with a two-run, 1-2 single into left field, scoring both Corona and Molina.

The Nationals apparently had Collins on a very short leash, pulling him after he surrendered the pair of runs. Cody Greenhill relieved him to finish the opening inning, striking out Yeuris Ramirez to end the damage at 2-0.

The Nationals came back to score a pair on three hits in the top of the second, tying the game at two off Kouba. In the bottom of the frame, Greenhill issued a bases loaded walk for a 3-2 Peckers lead before inducing a 4-6-3 double play courtesy of Loperfido.

Viandel Pena clobbered a 1-0 Kouba offering about 370 feet to right-center with one out in the third to tie the game, 3-3. In the bottom of the inning, the Peckers went scoreless for the first time in the game. Greenhill ended up striking out five over 2 13 innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits and a pair of walks. Marlon Perez entered in the fourth as the new Nats pitcher. Edinson Batista relieved Kouba to pitch the fifth.

The score remained until the Woodpeckers half of the fifth inning. Cerny opened the frame with a walk, then moved to second on a Loperfido single. Cerny then stole third and scored on a throwing error to make it 4-3. Loperfido came home a moment later on a Williams single to left field for a 5-3 Fayetteville lead.

The Nationals got back in the scoring column in the sixth inning on a Jaxon Hallmark fielding error. Also in the inning, the Fredericksburg pitching coach was ejected for arguing an overturned call. In one of the quirks of minor league ballparks, he had to walk across the field to the home dugout to exit, while the overhead played “Hit the Road, Jack.” It only took about 15 seconds for him to make the trip, but I’ll bet it seemed longer to him. Fayetteville still led by a 5-4 score.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Woodpeckers got the home fans some free tacos by bringing home the sixth run of the contest. Molina got it started with a two-out double, then scored on a Cerny double to left field for a 6-4 lead. Cerny collected the RBI off the most 70s-action star name I’ve heard in a while, new Fredericksburg pitcher Riggs Threadgill.

A Leandro Emiliani RBI-single got the Nationals back within a run at 6-5 in the top of the seventh. Jack Sinclair became Fredericksburg’s fifth pitcher of the game when he came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth.

After going 1-2-3 in their half of the eighth, the Woodpeckers orchestrated a 9-4-5 putout in the top of the ninth as Pena tried to stretch a double into a triple. Top prospect House popped out to end the game two pitches later.

Dialed in on: Ian Foggo

Ian Foggo is a six-foot-one, 200 lb. right-handed pitching prospect from Hilton Head Island, SC. Born on June 1, 1998, Foggo has been making guys swing-and-miss at a prodigious rate since his college days. Through his collegiate career (split between three schools, most recently with the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears in 2021), he whiffed 55 over 42 13 innings. He also walked 44 batters, hit 11, and served up 19 wild pitches for 29 runs (23 earned). On the flip side of that, he held opposing hitters to a .189 average.

Since turning professional, Foggo has managed to rack up 28 strikeouts over just 12 innings, but seems to be repeating his control problems from earlier in his career. Since joining Fayetteville for the 2022 campaign, he has 14 strikeouts in five innings, but has also walked 11. He can strike out almost anyone, because the hitter doesn’t really know where the ball is. Unfortunately, neither do the umpire, the catcher, or Foggo himself. If Foggo can dial in his control, I think we could be looking at something special. Time will tell.

Ballpark Refinements

I’m going to be straight with you Astros fans and admit I didn’t really have any plan for today’s game. I was trying to go to the Friday game so I could see (and comment here) on the fireworks, but I was surprised into working late. Plans dashed, this was a last-minute development.

I had the $9.50 chicken tenders with fries and a $14, 32 ounce beer. It was serviceable, but the tenders were slightly overcooked. I don’t normally mind things not being perfect, but for that price, I actually do mind.

Next up for the Woodpeckers, a six-game road set against the Delmarva Shorebirds. First game is set for Tuesday at 7:05PM ET.