Battaglia's game winning hit snaps Mudcats nine game home losing streak
ZEBULON, NC - The Carolina Mudcats may have been down late in the bottom of the ninth, but they were not ready to roll over and extend their losing streak just yet.
With the score 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Zach MacPhee’s third hit of the night was a double down the right-field line. He advanced to third on a groundout to second by Medina. With one out, Naquin beat out the pitcher on a soft hit ball to the first baseman. MacPhee scored on the play and Naquin was given an infield single. Trailing 4-3, Lindor ripped the ball into right field and it got past the right fielder for a double.
With Naquin on third and Lindor standing on second, backup catcher Ryan Battaglia singled to shallow left field and both Naquin and Lindor were waved around to score to give Carolina the 5-4 win. His hit snapped a nine game home losing streak and broke up the potential Salem Red Sox series sweep on Thursday night at Five County Stadium.
Manager David Wallace spoke highly of his team’s fight.
“It was a great win," he said. "I am really proud of the guys and how they have continued to fight. We went into the ninth inning down, but with a chance to win. It’s not like we’re getting blown out every night. Some guys stepped up. It was a big double by (Zack) MacPhee to start us off and everyone just did their part.”
Centerfielder Tyler Naquin who gunned out a runner at the plate to prevent another run from scoring in the top of the ninth inning was excited about the win and talks about his hunger to throw people out at the plate.
“It feels good to snap the streak," Naquin said. "As I said before we had to get the hits when they mattered most and make plays. Battaglia came up with guys on base and did what he was supposed to do. He came through for us and that’s how you win.”
Battaglia was thrilled to bat with the game on the line as that is something every hitter lives for.
“I took my opportunity to come in and fortunately I did what I had to do," Battaglia said. "When I get the opportunity I just come in and take the most of it and play my hardest and luckily this time it worked out.”
The Salem Red Sox jumped out to an early 1-0 lead over the Mudcats after second baseman Sean Coyle singled into right field, was advanced to second base after a groundout to second by the Red Sox leftfielder Matty Johnsonand scored on a single into right by designated hitter Keury De La Cruz.
The Mudcats got on the basepaths early with back-to-back singles to left-center field by Tyler Naquin and Francisco Lindor respectively, but following a groundout and two strikeouts, the inning ended and the Mudcats left two runners on.
In the top of the third inning the Red Sox struck again after second baseman Sean Coyle was walked and stole the next two bases before scoring on a wild pitch to make the score 2-0.
In the third inning, Sabourin reached first on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a Jordan Smith single into right field. Catcher Charlie Valerio followed up with a single to left field and Sabourin was waved around and scored in a collision at home plate to cut the score in half, 2-1. Sabourin was injured on the play and replaced defensively by Battaglia.
The Mudcats threatened again in the bottom of the fourth. Second baseman Joe Sever singled down the right-field line and advanced after the designated hitter Zack MacPhee singled into left center after a failed bunt attempt. With runners on first and second, third baseman Yhoxian Medina hit into a double play, but advanced Sever and the tying run to third base. Back at the top of the lineup, Naquin put the ball in play, but grounded out to the shortstop and the Mudcats left yet another runner stranded.
With a two-run outing in the fifth inning, the Salem Red Sox extended their lead to 4-1. Early singles by shortstopNick Natoli and Coyle set up the opportunity to score and after a groundout by left fielder Matty Johnson and a passed ball on Charlie Valerio, both runs crossed home plate. Rob Nixon came in and relieved Mudcats starting pitcher Robert Whitenack.
Once again the Mudcats cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the sixth inning after a two-out double to left field by MacPhee scored Valerio and made the score 4-2 and set up the ninth inning dramatics.