Big night from Rodriguez lifts Mudcats past Keys
ZEBULON - Coming off an eight game road trip the Carolina Mudcats (13-13) returned home and beat the Frederick Keys (9-15) on Friday night 10-4.
Three run innings in the second, fifth and seventh gave the Mudcats pitchers all the run support they would need. The offense was led by shortstop Ronny Rodriguez who entered the game hitting only .188, but after a 4-for-4 night it bumped up to .225. He also had two doubles, drove in two runs, and scored three runs.
"This was a big game for him," manager Edwin Rodriguez said about his young shortstop. "[Hitting coach] Scooter Tucker has been working with him and he’s starting to come along. A game like this will just help his confidence.”
On top of the great performance by Rodriguez, the pitching was almost as good.
Right-hander Will Roberts made his first start of the season for the Mudcats after being called up to the team from Low-A LAke County where he was 2-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five starts. He did not disappoint as he went six innings and gave up only two runs on three hits, all of which came in the first inning.
“He was throwing 94 to 96 with a good breaking ball and felt very comfortable after that first inning," Rodriguez said. "He’s a strike thrower, has a good arm with a good breaking ball."
The Keys were able to put up two runs off Roberts in the first. He had problems with early runs while with the Captains as he allowed four first inning runs through his five starts.
After getting the first two batters to pop out and groundout the Keys put together a two out rally. A single by designated hitter Kipp Schutz was followed by a double by first baseman Aaron Baker and a walk to second baseman Ty Kelly to load the bases. With the bases loaded third baseman Matt Sweeney singled to right scoring Schutz and Baker. Roberts got the next man to ground out to third ending the inning as the Keys led 2-0.
The Mudcats erased the deficit and took the lead in the second. Right fielder Carlos Moncrief doubled to lead off the inning and was able to score on a one out double by shortstop Ronny Rodriguez. Following the two doubles, Keys starter Scott Copeland started to get wild as he hit catcher Dwight Childs and then threw a wild pitch allowing Rodriguez and Childs to move up to set up a second and third situation. Left Fielder Delvi Cid reached on a high infield chopper to third which allowed Rodriguez to score from third and Childs moved up from second to third. Childs scored on a sac fly by second baseman Justin Toole giving the Mudcats a 3-2 lead after two innings.
In the third inning Moncrief reached on an infield single with one out as second baseman Ty Kelly was unable to make a tough play on the grounder. Moncrief then stole second and then Rodriguez drove a ball down the right field line giving him his second RBI of the night and the Mudcats a 4-2 lead after three.
The Mudcats chased Copeland from the game in the fifth and greeted the Key bullpen rudely.
First baseman Jesus Aguilar doubled to right with one out and following a line out by Moncrief, Cannon grounded a single up the middle with two outs scoring Aguilar from second. The Keys brought in Matt Bywater to try and close out the inning but the Mudcats had other ideas. Back to back singles by Rodriguez and Childs allowed Cannon to score and closed the book on Copeland. Copeland wound up going four and two thirds innings and gave up six runs on eight hits while striking out seven. The Mudcats weren’t done however as Cid was able to single to right scoring Rodriguez giving the Mudcats at 7-2 lead after five innings.
The Mudcats turned to the bullpen following the sixth as they brought in Jordan Cooper.
Tyler Kolodny who started the game in left field and moved to first in the fourth when Aaron Baker was taken out, led off the seventh against Cooper with a double off the right field wall. However Cooper was able to get around the lead off double by striking out two and inducing a shallow fly ball to right.
The Mudcats continued to build their lead in the seventh. Moncrief walked to lead off the inning and following a fly out to center by Cannon, Rodriguez singled to right for his fourth hit of the game. Following a wild pitch that let Moncrief and Rodriguez move up, Childs was awarded first base on catcher interference loading up the bases with only one out.
After Cid struck out center fielder Tyler Holt drew a draw a walk forcing home Moncrief and ending the night for Bywater as the Keys brought in Kenny Moreland. Toole greeted him with a single to left scoring Rodriguez and Childs; however, on the play Holt was thrown out trying to score from first but the damage was done as the Mudcats took a 10-2 lead into the eighth. Bywater ended up going two innings giving up four runs.
JD Reichenbach came in to relieve Cooper and pitched the final two innings of the game. Reichenbach gave up two runs and allowed a total of four hits between the two innings of work.
The Mudcats will look to build upon this performance as they again take on the Key’s on Saturday at 6:15 at Five County Stadium for the second game of the three game series.