Blue Rocks get to Pasquale, Mudcats lose 6-4
Mudcats fall to season-low with loss
WILMINGTON – After falling behind early and attempting to claw back into it, the Carolina Mudcats couldn’t complete the rally as they fell to the Wilmington Blue Rocks 6-4 on Wednesday night. With the loss, Carolina fell a season-high 18 games under .500 at 20-38.
Making his fifth start of the season with Carolina, starting pitcher Nick Pasquale started strong but struggled towards the end of his start. Pasquale allowed six runs, four earned on 10 hits. This was to go along with two strikeouts and two walks. Five of the six runs Pasquale allowed were in his final two innings of work. Pasquale was handed the loss to fall to 0-3 with the Mudcats.
On the night, the team left 11 runners on base, nine through the first five innings.
Wilmington took the lead in the first inning with the leadoff man hitting a double to open the inning and the next batter brought him home on an RBI single. After a fly-out was the first out of the inning, the Mudcats got a double play to end the inning.
After a one-two-three first inning, the Mudcats attempted to tie the game in the second inning and were in prime position to do so. Designated hitter Jerrud Sabourin walked, right fielder Jordan Smith singled, and catcher Charlie Valerio walked to load the bases with no outs, but a strikeout and two fly balls couldn’t bring any runners home to leave the bases loaded.
In the next inning, with one out, Pasquale allowed a single, but was able to erase the runner on a second straight inning ending double play.
Carolina came back up to bat in the third inning and immediately got men on base. With one out, left fielder Bo Greenwell was hit by a pitch and second baseman Joey Wendle walked. A wild pitch advanced both runners to scoring position but that was as far as either runner would get. Sabourin hit into a fielder’s choice, which got the out at home, but still two runners were in scoring position with two outs. However, Smith grounded out to first base to end the inning and the threat.
With one out and two on in the third inning, Pasquale was able to induce his third inning-ending double play in three innings.
The fourth inning was not kind to the Blue Rocks defensively. Valerio reached base on a single to right field to open the inning. With two outs third baseman Zach MacPhee reached on an error on the Wilmington pitcher that allowed Valerio to advance to second base. Still with two out, center fielder Tyler Naquin singled up the middle and a second error allowed Valerio to score to tie the game. A wild pitch allowed the runners to advance to second and third, but neither scored as Greenwell flew out to end the inning.
After tying the game in the top of the fourth, the Mudcats allowed the Blue Rocks to retake the lead. With one out, Pasquale gave up a double, then a fielding error by MacPhee put runners on the corners. Wilmington attempted a suicide squeeze bunt attempt, but was unsuccessful as the runner was unable to score, but the runners were safe at first and second on the play. A single loaded the bases and a second hit scored two runs to give the Blue Rocks the lead. Both runs were unearned.
The Mudcats were once again able to get runners on base but were unable to score. With two outs, Smith reached on an error and Valerio followed that up with a walk. However, first baseman Ryan Battaglia grounded out to end the inning.
Pasquale gave up a home run with one out in the fifth inning designated hitter Daniel Mateo, his fourth of the season against Carolina. A double followed and an error by Greenwell allowed the runner to advance to third. With two outs, an RBI triple scored another run in the inning and the Blue Rocks opened up a four-run lead, but they were not done there. An RBI single scored another run with two outs. On consecutive pitches, the runner stole second and third base and a walk put runners on the corners, but a strikeout finally ended the inning and the threat.
Carolina began to chip away at the lead in the sixth inning. After being signed by the Indians earlier in the day, shortstop Paddy Matera singled to open the inning for his first hit in a Mudcats uniform. An RBI triple by MacPhee scored Matera to cut into the lead. Naquin hit a sacrifice fly to score MacPhee and cut the Wilmington lead to three.
Pasquale was lifted after the fifth inning for left-hander Francisco Jimenez, who faced the minimum nine batters over his three innings of work, allowing only a walk.
With a reliever on the mound for the Blue Rocks, the Mudcats continued to chip away at the lead. With one out, Smith doubled to center field and advanced to third on a groundout by Valerio. Battaglia hit an RBI single to drive in Smith and cut the lead to two.
The leadoff man reached again in the eighth inning as MacPhee singled to open the inning, but was wiped away as Naquin reached on a fielder’s choice. Naquin stole second to put a man in scoring position with only one out. Greenwell and Wendle struck out for the second and third outs to end the inning.
Sabourin, Smith and Valerio went down in order to end the game.
The Mudcats conclude the series against the Blue Rocks on Thursday. Right-hander Cody Anderson gets the start for Carolina. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35.
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.