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Carolina Mudcats lose to Frederick Keys, 5-0

Carolina Mudcats lose to Frederick Keys, 5-0
Photo credt: Tony Lastoria/IBI
August 21, 2014
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ZEBULON, N.C. —Dominating pitching helped the Frederick Keys protect an early lead Thursday as they defeated the Carolina Mudcats 5-0 to avoid the series sweep.

Brenden Webb gave Fredrick the early advantage in the top of the second, crushing a solo homerun to right off Carolina starter Adam Plutko as the Keys went up 1-0.

The Keys tacked on another in the top of the third. Jerome Penaand John Ruettiger opened the frame with back-to-back bloop singles to right putting men on the corners. Plutko then forcedLucas Herbst to ground into a double play, but Pena scored on the play as Frederick doubled their advantage at 2-0.  

Plutko (3-9, 4.20) settled down to give the Mudcats a solid start, but took the loss as Carolina’s offense never provided any run support. He allowed the two earned runs on six hits in 6.2 innings of work. The righty walked one and fanned four.

Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker said despite Plutko taking the loss, he was proud of his starter’s effort. 

“I thought he did a good job, he certainly kept us in the game until he ran out of pitches,” Tucker said. “You’ve got to score to win anyways and we just didn’t get it done.”

Plutko agreed the loss didn’t tell the full story: “I was pleased with the start, my job is to give us a chance to win and only two runs in six innings does that, their starter was just really good tonight.”

Plutko was outdueled by Keys starter Steven Brault (1-0, 0.00). In his Carolina League debut, the lefty took the win allowing just one hit and one walk in 6.0 innings of work to pick up his first win with Frederick.

James Roberts’ one out single in the bottom of the third was the only hit for Carolina while Logan Vick earned a walk in the bottom of the sixth to become the only other Mudcat to reach against Brault. 

Brault’s debut got the attention of Tucker, who was impressed with the southpaw’s effort.

“He did a great job, he pitched inside really well,” said Tucker. “He really kept the guys off-balance.”

Plutko also had nothing but compliments when asked about Brault’s effort: “He mixed it up a lot, and really made it difficult for our guys all night.

With Clayton Cook on for the Mudcats in relief, Frederick again added to their lead in the top of the eighth. After Ruettiger lined out to first, Herbst singled up the middle before Trey Mancini’s double put men on the corners. Cook walked Nathans to fill the bases, before Jason Esposito’s sacrifice fly plated Herbst. Cook continued to struggle finding his control, walking Webb to load the bases then Wynston Sawyer as Mancini scored to make it 4-0.

This forced the Mudcats to go back into the bullpen for Ben Heller, who also couldn’t find the strike zone, walkingJoel Hutter as Nathans crossed the dish to make it 5-0.

Lex Rutledge picked up where Brault left off, vexing the Carolina offense late. He went 3.0 scoreless innings allowing just one hit and two walks to earn his fifth save of the year.

Carolina falls to 27-31 for the second half. They trail the Salem Red Sox by 2.5 games for the final playoff spot in the Southern Division.

The Mudcats will hit the road, heading to Winston-Salem for their final four road games of the season. Mike Clevinger (0-0, 4.50) will start Friday’s series opener Carolina against J.B. Wendelken (6-9, 4.83) in a matchup of righties.

First pitch from BB&T Ballpark is set for 7:00 PM.

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