Brown, Mudcats rocked by Wilmington, 8-4
Carolina drops below .500 for only the second time all season.
WILMINGTON, DE - D.J. Brown and the Carolina Mudcats lost 8-4 to the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Tuesday night in the first game of a three-game road trip. The Mudcats simply couldn't keep up with the Blue Rocks offensively as they fell behind and never recovered.
Brown (2-4, 3.92) hurled 4.0 innings in a losing effort, which he allowed four earned runs off five hits and four walks. It was his fourth straight loss after starting the season 2-0.
The Mudcats bullpen struggled to the tune of four earned runs off five hits in 4.0 combined innings of relief.
Blue Rock starting pitcher Christian Binford (3-2, 2.35) tossed 5.2 innings, and gave up only two earned runs on six hits. The big right-hander struck out eight Mudcats batters, while only walking three en route to the win.
Yender Caramo earned the save for Wilmington after allowing only two earned runs in 3.1 innings.
Carolina struck early against Binford and looked ready to play in the top of the first. Leadoff man LeVon Washington doubled to left, and stole third base during Jeremy Lucas's at-bat to put pressure on the Wilmington defense. Lucas managed to score Washington from third with a ground out to make it 1-0.
But the Mudcats would go scoreless over the next five innings, while Wilmington built a three-run lead.
A series of quick innings allowed both pitchers to get into a groove, but Wilmington continued to fight and, eventually, found success in the bottom of the fourth.
Hunter Dozier and Zane Evans both singled to lead off the inning, putting runners on the corners. Michael Antonio scored Dozier with a sac fly to left that tied the game at 1-1. After a Cam Gallagher single advanced Evans to third, Kenny Diekroeger took a walk that loaded the bases for the Blue Rocks. With the Mudcats reeling, Terrance Gore's seeing-eye single made its way into the outfield and scored another two runs for Wilmington to complete their big fourth inning.
Wilmington extended their lead in the following frame with another run from Bubba Starling. Starling made it to first on and then stole second base to lead off the inning. A Zane Evans ground out sent Starling to third, who scored off a Michael Antonio sac fly, which gave the Blue Rocks a 4-1 advantage.
The Mudcats fought back in the top of the sixth as they looked to start a rally. Jerrud Sabourin walked and moved to second on a Luigi Rodriguez single to set up a scoring opportunity. James Roberts plated Sabourin with a single to right that got one back. During the play, a throwing error from right-fielder Daniel Rockett allowed the runners to advance, but a Ryan Battaglia ground out ended the inning and left two stranded.
The Blue Rocks responded with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to quell the scrappy Mudcats. With Starling at third, Evans singled to center to score the first run. Wilmington loaded the bases later in the inning, and brought a second run in to score with a Gallagher sac fly to right.
Wilmington would go on to add two more insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth.
Scooter Tucker's club came out swinging in the top of the ninth in hopes of extending the game.
Torsten Boss started things off with a single to right, and was followed up by a Roberts double to left. Consecutive ground outs from Battaglia and Washington scored both runners but it was too little, too late as Wilmington ended the game on the following at-bat.
The loss drops Carolina below .500 for only the second time all season.
Roberts and Washington produced solid performances for the Mudcats in the loss. Washington, recently off the disabled list, went 2-for-4 with one run and a RBI, while Roberts went 3-for-4 with his own run and RBI.
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.