(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Lifted by a monster nine-run rally in second inning, the Charleston Woodpeckers put up 18 hits Thursday evening to pull out a 19-12 win over Charleston Bluejays in the first game of a doubleheader.
"We came out swinging," Woodpeckers' coach Paul Bucher said. "I don't think they expected us to swing the bats that well. I don't know if I expected us to swing the bats that well against them."
Trailing by two entering the top of the second, the Woodpeckers got things rolling with back-to-back Nathan Holland and Ryan Mathis hit singles before Dylan Dannenmueller was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Following three straight walks that gave the Woodpeckers a 3-2 advantage, Zach Downing stepped to the plate with no outs and the bases still loaded.
Connecting on a Squirrel offering, Downing sent a shot deep to left field that easily cleared the fence for a grand slam that pushed the Woodpecker lead to five. At the end of the frame the Woodpeckers pushed their lead to 9-2.
"Downing had a big hit with that grand slam," Bucher said. "He was talking about his home run at Bernie before the game and we were giving him grief about it.
"Now we're going to hear about this one forever. But that's alright, he hit the baseball hard all night."
After the Squirrels scored six runs in the next two innings to close back to within three at 11-8, the Woodpeckers scored a combined eight runs in the fifth and sixth frames to once again distance themselves.
Needing to push a run across to keep from losing by the mercy rule, the Squirrels got a break when a missed throw to first to skipped back to the fence allowed them to push Brandon Peters home from second to keep the game alive.
After starting off the bottom of the seventh with the first two hitters reaching, however, the Squirrels were only able to score a pair of runs to make it 19-12 before a ground out to the second baseman ended the game.
"We played terrible," Squirrels coach Michael Minner said. "The same story as our first three games this season, we didn't throw strikes.
"Then when you get behind in counts you make good hitters better."
Leading the Woodpeckers' 18 hit performance, catcher Ryan Mathis went 5 for 5 at the plate with two doubles and five runs batted in. Both Holland and Downing had three hits on contest, including Downing's grand slam while Cole Byford and Trey Watkins had two hits each.
"It was just a team effort at the plate," Bucher said. "We just swung it well and that's why we won the game."
For the Squirrels, who had nine hits, Dalton Woodard went 3 for 4, including a triple, followed by Josh Boese who had a single and a double.
"We're going to bounce back at some point," Minner said of the loss. "Whether if it's this game coming up or 10 games from now we're going to start playing the game the right way.
"We have to find a way to run out balls hard, get to our position and do the little things that it takes to win baseball games."
Looking for some payback, the Squirrels got a little revenge in the second game of the double header, taking the game 18-0 to pick up their first win if the season.
The Squirrels now stand at 1-4 on the season while the Woodpeckers are 3-3.
Woodpeckers 091 135 0 - 19
Squirrels 204 211 2 - 12
WP -- Nate Holland. LP -- Dustin Johnson. 2B -- (W) Trey Watkins, Ryan Mathis 2, Matt Dorris; (S) Josh Boese. 3B -- (S) Dalton Woodard. HR -- (W) Zach Downing.