Aguilar helps wake up Mudcats bats in 8-6 win
ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (3-2) broke out of a 23 inning scoreless streak to down the Frederick Keys (3-2) on Tuesday night 8-6.
Behind a huge night from first baseman Jesus Aguilar who went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI, the Mudcats offense was able to break out of their slump in a big way.
“We have been expecting that from him, waiting for him to have that kind of night and hopefully he can keep that going," manager Edwin Rodriguez said of Aguilar's night.
The Mudcats got down early as the Keys scored one in the top of the first and then they added to their lead in the fourth with two more. However, it was the Mudcats night as they scored four in the fourth and then two more in the fifth and seventh. The Keys would tack on three runs in the ninth but it was too little too late.
Francisco Jimenez got the start for the Mudcats and was able to keep the team in the game long enough for the offense to finally wake up. Jimenez tossed a solid seven innings giving up three runs, two earned, on five hits while striking out four improving his record on the year to 6-5.
Rodriguez didn’t think that Jimenez had his best stuff on the night.
“[He] was okay," Rodriguez noted. "He struggled a little bit with his offspeed pitches, but he was able to work down in the zone and that helped him tonight.”
An error by shortstop Ronny Rodriguez in the top of the first allowed the Keys to put a run up on the board early. Jimenez is in the top five in walks in the Carolina League and walked right fielder Jeremy Nowak with one out in the inning. Second baseman Ty Kelly would back the walk up by hitting a ball off the left field wall. Nowak however hesitated on the play and as he tried to reach third he was gunned out by left fielder Anthony Gallas as Kelly, who was given a single on the play, moved to second.
It looked like Jimenez would get out of the inning as he induced a ground ball by first baseman Aaron Baker right to Rodriguez at short. Rodriguez would bobble the ball and then as he tried to rush the throw, launched it over first baseman Jesus Aguilar’s head allowing Kelly to come around from second to score the games first run.
The Keys loaded the bases up with no outs in the fourth on two singles and a walk. A great play by Aguilar at first kept the score 1-0 as he dove to his right to snag a ground ball hit by center fielder Trent Mummey. Aguilar quickly got up and fired home to force out Baker at the plate for the first out of the inning. Jimenez then got third baseman Michael Mosby to pop out in foul territory next to first for the second out giving him a great opportunity to escape the jam. However shortstop Garabez Rosa drove a ball to left center easily scoring Flacco and Dalles, but Rosa would be thrown out by Holt as he tried to stretch the single into a double to end the inning.
The scoreless inning streak was finally snapped at 23 innings in the bottom of the fourth as the Mudcats put up four runs and took the lead for the first time in the series. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Aguilar then stepped to the plate and hammered a ball over the left field wall to cut the deficit to 3-2 but probably more importantly to give the Mudcats a run for the first time in a while and the offense something to build on.
After Copeland retired the next two batters the Mudcats were able to put together a two out rally to score two more. Designated hitter Bo Greenwell drew a walk and that was followed by a ground rule double to left by catcher Tyler Cannon. Gallas then came up and blooped a ball into center scoring both Greenwell and Cannon to give the Mudcats the 4-3 lead.
The Mudcats continued to score runs in the fifth as they put up two more off Copeland. With one out Urshela drove a solo shot over the left field wall to increase the Mudcat lead to 5-3. After the homer by Urshela, Aguilar made a bid for back to back jacks as he hammered a ball off the left field wall for a double. Right fielder Carlos Moncrief drove Aguilar in with a single to left center, but Moncrief was thrown out trying to go to second. A groundout would end the inning but the Mudcats gave Jimenez some breathing room as they went up 6-3.
Reliever David Baker came into the game in the seventh for the Keys and was unable to contain the Mudcats bats. Wolters led off the inning with a single to right. After a pop out by Urshela, Aguilar hit his second home run of the game over the left field wall pushing the Mudcats lead to 8-3.
The Keys tried to rally in the ninth as they pushed across three runs and had the tying run on first with two outs but JD Reichenbach - who had come in to relieve Jimenez in the eighth - got Kelly to pop out to short to end the game.
The Mudcats will look to split the series on Wednesday as they take on the Keys once again in a day game at 12:00 at Five County Stadium.