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Pecker Checker: Fayetteville Set Down by Charleston

The Woodpeckers were unable to avoid clinching a losing record for the second half of the Carolina League season.

Gametime in Fayetteville

The Fayetteville Woodpeckers hosted the Charleston RiverDogs with 5,501 in attendance at Segra Stadium on Friday night.

The Woodpeckers are the Low-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, and are currently home to eight of the franchise’s top 30 prospects. Namely, OF Drew Gilbert (2, IL), OF Jacob Melton (6, DH, batting third), OF Ryan Clifford (8, LF, batting second), RHP Alex Santos (15), RHP Miguel Ullola (20), OF Logan Cerny (22), IF/OF Tyler Whitaker (25, CF batting cleanup), RHP Alimber Santa (26, IL).

Fayetteville’s offense has awoken a little since the club was restocked with new prospects, but the bottom line has remained the same. The team has won one of their last 10 contests, a 3-0 victory against Charleston on Wednesday night. After posting a 31-34 record through the first half of the season, they’re currently in possession of a 17-34 record in the second. Although technically still alive in the playoff chase, they’d need to win each of their final 17 contests to get to an even .500. That’s not even considering each other team in the Carolina League South is at least seven games ahead of the Woodpeckers.

Charleston, in the meantime, is the Low-A affiliate for the Tampa Bay Rays. Three of their 30 rated prospects are currently embedded with the team. OF Mason Auer (13), C/OF/1B Heriberto Hernandez (18), and SS Alika Williams (26).

Fayetteville Woodpeckers 1, Charleston RiverDogs 7


After opening the game by issuing back-to-back walks, Fayetteville starter Nic Swanson got the next three outs without incident. The Peckers then struck first when Tommy Sacco Jr. scored on a Jacob Melton groundout. Sacco got to second base on a leadoff double and moved to third on a Ryan Clifford groundout.

In the top half of the second, RiverDogs first baseman Nathan Perry (4) provided the equalizer with a long home run to right-center. Shane Sasaki (6) also homered off Swanson with a two-run shot in the fifth to make it 3-1 in favor of the Dogs. Carson Williams followed Sasaki with a solo shot, his 17th of the season.

After surrendering another hit (a triple), Swanson was relieved by Austin Temple. Temple promptly allowed a two-run homer to Oneill Manzueta (8) to make it 6-1, bad guys.

After returning from Tommy John Surgery, right-hander Peyton Plumlee made his re-debut in the sixth inning. Plumlee had stated his velocity is up a few ticks from his pre-surgery days. Although he did manage to strike out Williams, Alejandro Pie crossed the plate on a Sasaki single to make it 7-1. The run was unearned, and Plumlee got another pair of outs — including a second strikeout — in the seventh before getting relieved by Ronny Garcia.

Garcia pitched the final 2 13 innings for the Birds, holding the Dogs hitless and only walking a single batter. Unfortunately, the Peckers were unable to mount any significant offense after their first inning run, and 7-1 remained the score until the game closed.

  • Each of Fayetteville’s five hits was by a different batter. Sacco and Melton hit doubles, Whitaker, Jackson Loftin, & Rolando Espinosa collected a single each.
  • Swanson drops to 3-3 for the season with a 4.70 ERA and 84 K’s in 76 23 innings. He put 46-of-81 pitches over the plate.
  • Six of Fayetteville’s top seven in the batting order struck out twice each. The only exception was Loftin, who struck out once.

Ballpark Refinements

Devan at the team shop was forthcoming in his efforts to get me the best deals on Fayetteville Woodpeckers swag. There are jerseys and hats for days, as well as car decorations, miniature bats, and various accouterments for any discerning fan.

I settled on a game-worn Tyler Guilfoil signed jersey. Only $100, and totally worth it because you’ll be seeing him in like, three years. You say he’s not a rated prospect? Get over it, it’s going to happen.

The game ended and I enjoyed a second-to-none fireworks display. I’ve seen a lot of them at a lot of different parks this year, and this was the best I’ve seen. Thanks for reading.