Carolina Mudcats lose scoring fest to Lynchburg Hillcats, 11-8
ZEBULON, N.C. – Despite a furious ninth inning rally, a season-high 16 hits were too much to overcome for the Carolina Mudcats as they fell 11-8 to the Lynchburg Hillcats Monday night.
Down by seven in the bottom of the ninth, third baseman James Roberts walked and second baseman Yhoxian Medina singled to put two on with no outs. A single by left fielder Todd Hankinsbrought Roberts in to score to cut the lead to six. With two runners in scoring position and one out, shortstop Erik Gonzalez brought Medina in on an RBI groundout.
After a walk to catcher Jeremy Lucas put runners on the corners, right fielder Anthony Gallas chopped a ball to the shortstop, but an error allowed Hankins to score and the inning to continue. First baseman Jerrud Sabourin hit a slow roller to the shortstop to bring Lucas in to score to cut the lead to only three.
Designated hitter Torsten Boss, who hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, represented the tying run, but grounded out to second base to end the game.
Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker said this game shows exactly how crazy the game of baseball can be.
“It’s a crazy game,” said Tucker. “Sometimes you just shake your head and move on. Twenty-seven outs is a whole bunch. We’ll have to sleep fast and go back to it tomorrow.”
Right hander Cole Sulser took the mound for the Mudcats and continued his struggles as of late. Sulser struggled through 2.2 innings and gave up eight runs, six earned, on eight hits. The outing was Sulser’s second shortest of the season and the most runs he has allowed.
Sulser was tagged with the loss, falling to 0-4 on the season.
Tucker said it is all about development with Sulser who has struggled since his first outing of the season.
“You can’t attach it to one thing with Sulser,” said Tucker. “He’s working into hitters counts and they are just putting the ball where they need to. He’s just got to be able to get guys out and work in a pitcher’s count.”
In his first game back from Triple-AAA Columbus, Hankins led off the bottom of the first with a stand-up double to deep center field. With one out, things got strange and seemed to go down hill for the rest of the game.
With Gonzalez at-bat, Hankins attempted to steal third base, and the catcher’s throw sailed into left field, and seemingly, Hankins easily scored. However, Gonzalez stuck out and the umpire called interference and Hankins was sent back to second on the call. Two batters later, right fielder Anthony Gallas knocked an RBI single into right field to score Hankins from second for the early 1-0 lead.
Tucker said you hate to say a play changed the complexion of the game, but that one call did just that.
“You know, a play has the ability to change an inning certainly,” said Tucker. “If Gonzalez is not called out the pitcher might have to throw a few extra pitches.”
After allowing a leadoff walk in the second inning, Sulser gave up a double to the next batter to put runners on second and third with no outs. A strikeout on a passed ball allowed the runner from third to score the batter to safely reach first.
With runners on the corners and one out, a two-run double gave the Hillcats a 3-1 lead and they were not done there. A hard grounder up the middle scored the runner from second easily to give the Hillcats a three run lead.
After giving up four runs in the second inning, the Mudcats did exactly the same thing in the third. Sulser gave up three consecutive singles to score one, and a two run double cleared the bases for the first three runs of the inning. A fly out to right field and a groundout to second base got the first two outs of the inning, but did allow the runner to advance to third base. An error by Roberts allowed that runner to score, and that would be it for Sulser.
Right hander Benny Suarez relieved Sulser, and gave up a single to the first batter he faced to put two on with two outs. A balk advanced both runners to scoring position, but Suarez was able to strike out the final batter of the inning to prevent any more damage.
Carolina began a comeback in the fourth inning as first baseman Jerrud Sabourin led off the inning with a double to deep left field. Designated hitter Torsten Boss blasted his second home run of the season to right field and pulled the Mudcats within five, but that would be all Carolina would manage in the inning.
Right handed flame thrower Carlos Melo relieved Suarez in the fifth inning and struggled mightily from the beginning. After allowing a leadoff walk, Melo gave up a single to the next batter. With one out, a bunt single loaded the bases. An RBI single scored one, and a sacrifice fly by the next batter scored a second in the inning and the Hillcats had a 10-3 lead.
Center fielder Logan Vick cracked a leadoff solo home run to right-center to bring the Mudcats within six, but that would be all Carolina could manage in the inning.
Right hander Jacob Lee relieved Melo in the sixth inning, who gave up two runs on three hits and a walk.
Lee cruised through the Hillcats line-up until he got two outs in the seventh inning when he gave up a solo home run for an 11-4 lead, which would prove to be the final margin.
Carolina are scheduled to attempt to bounce back from a rough outing against the Hillcats on Tuesday. The Mudcats are set to send left hander Shawn Morimando to the mound for the 11:00 first pitch.
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.