Carolina Mudcats held to 4 hits in 4-3 loss to Salem Red Sox
SALEM, Va. — After recovering from an early deficit to take a one run lead, the Carolina Mudcats were downed 4-3 by the Salem Red Sox in extra innings. Despite being out hit 11-4, the Mudcats always had a chance to steal the road win from the Red Sox but a late surge from the home team doomed Scooter Tucker’s team.
With the game tied at three in the bottom of tenth, the Red Sox loaded the bases and a Kevin Heller walk off single to left scoredReed Gragnani from third to take the final game of the year between the two ball clubs.
Salem’s Madison Younginer (2-2, 4.86 ERA) earned the victory by hurling 2.0 scoreless innings of relief that gave his hitters a chance to win the game.
Carolina starter Ryan Merritt took a no decision after he allowed three earned runs off of four hits and three walks while striking out six Red Sox batters.
Josh Martin was credited with a blown save even though he failed to allow an earned run.
Rob Nixon (1-6, 4.57 ERA) gave up the decisive run on his way to the loss.
The exciting finish was set up by competitive play throughout the first nine innings.
Salem found an early groove and raced out to a two run lead in the bottom of the first. The Red Sox put runners at first and second after leadoff man Matty Johnson and Carson Blair earned walks. Reed Gragnani singled to right to bring the speedy center fielder, Johnson, around to score the first run of the game. Carson Blair scored during the following at bat off a Mario Martinez seeing-eye single up the middle of the infield that made it 2-0.
But Carolina fought back in the top of the third to level the game. Todd Hankins took a walk and used his speed to steal second base, giving Carolina a runner in scoring position. Yhoxian Medina seized the opportunity by plating Hankins with an RBI single to right. Medina went on to steal second base and a Yandy Diaz single allowed the quick shortstop to score the second run of the inning.
The Mudcats used a big hit from Luigi Rodriguez in the following frame to take a one run lead. With LeVon Washington and James Roberts on base after back to back walks, Luigi Rodriguez poked a double through the infield and out to the gap in center. Washington easily scored from first and Roberts reached third on the play which kept the pressure on the Red Sox. But consecutive outs from Todd Hankins and Yhoxian Medina left both runners stranded and kept Salem within striking distance.
The missed opportunity came back to haunt the Mudcats in the bottom of the sixth as the Red Sox tied the game. With Ryan Merritt out of the game and Josh Martin on the mound, Salem’s Reed Gragnani reached third and eventually scored on a Kevin Heller single to center that knotted things up at three runs apiece.
The Red Sox nearly closed the game out in the bottom of the ninth. Salem’s Matty Johnson beat out a groundball second baseman James Roberts to reach first on an infield single. Needing only one run, Mike Miller laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Johnson into scoring position. A groundout from Jantzen Witte allowed Johnson to advance to third but Grant Sides stood his ground and forced a Carson Blair pop up to end the inning and force extras.
The loss drops Carolina to 21-19 during the second half and 50-57 on the year.
The Mudcats return to action on Friday as they return to face the Potomac Nationals at Five County Stadium in Zebulon. Dylan Baker is set to start for Carolina and Ian Dickson will take the mound for Potomac.
Daniel is a communication and broadcast media major at North Carolina State University.