In a remarkable turnaround, the Down East Wood Ducks earned a share of the Carolina League championship on Friday in a 2-1 win over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.In the first half of the season, the Wood Ducks went 24-45 and finished 18 1/2 games behind the first-place Pelicans.
In a remarkable turnaround, the Down East Wood Ducks earned a share of the Carolina League championship on Friday in a 2-1 win over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
In the first half of the season, the Wood Ducks went 24-45 and finished 18 1/2 games behind the first-place Pelicans.
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"Obviously, we had a tough first half of the year, but I think some of the stuff with the Rangers that we put in place and the things we were looking to improve on were not concerned so much with wins and losses," Wood Ducks manager Steve Mintz told MiLB.com. "Over the last two months, we've seen the things we harped on with these guys."
Myrtle Beach opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, but Down East tied it in the second when Preston Scott scored on a throwing error by catcher Tyler Pearson. Matt Lipka led off the third with a home run.
Wood Ducks starter Brett Martin, the Rangers' No. 10 prospect, tossed 2 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits. Three relievers then came in and threw 4 1/3 scoreless frames.
"In the first half, every night we found a way to lose a ballgame, and to watch the guys tonight in a 2-1 game, making plays and pitches when it counted where three to four months ago we weren't able to do those things," Mintz said. "From an organizational standpoint, it's overwhelming"
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Martin exited with runners on first and second before right-hander Emerson Martinez got Jesse Hodges to ground out to second to end the third. In the fifth, Hodges lined out to right field with the bases loaded against left-hander Jeff Springs to end the Pelicans' best threat.
Right-hander Scott Williams finished the game by tossing two innings, extending his scoreless streak to 30 innings.
"Everybody's super-excited now. We made a pretty magical run here at the end of the season to even get to this position," Mintz said. "To finish it off tonight, the boys were just unbelievably excited and happy. Not a lot more to say about it."
The Wood Ducks share the title with the Lynchburg Hillcats, who topped Frederick on Saturday.
Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com.