Carolina Mudcats scoring drought extends to 26 innings in 3-0 loss
ZEBULON, N.C. – The Carolina Mudcats couldn't find their bats for the second straight night as they fell 3-0 to the Wilmington Blue Rocks Wednesday.
The Mudcats’ fifth-straight defeat came down to a series of errors in the second inning and a failure to manufacture runs.
Carolina's scoring drought now stands at 26 long innings. The Mudcat's last score came on an Anthony Gallas RBI double that scored Todd Hankins in the first inning of Monday's game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
Manager Scooter Tucker isn't letting the slump lead to frustration but acknowledged that the offense hasn't been where it needs to be.
"Our offense just isn't scoring runs," Tucker explained. "Either we are getting very good pitching against us, or we aren't doing a good job of driving in runs, or both."
He went on to say that "if you get consumed with the results instead of the process of the at-bat then you are prone to get into slumps.”
“You can do everything right and make an out and you can do everything wrong and make an out," Tucker added.
Cole Sulser (1-5) produced a fine performance but a lack of run support doomed the starter to yet another loss. In 6.0 innings of play, Sulser allowed only five hits and one earned run but errors led to two additional scores. The California native fanned nine Blue Rocks batters, one shy of his career high.
"I thought he pitched well," said Tucker. "I thought he pitched inside much better and he pitched both sides of the plate. We failed to make a couple of plays behind him that led to the big inning but overall I was very pleased."
Sulser approached the game with an attacking mentality, which paid off during his start.
"We just tried to attack guys and establish the fast ball and pitch to both sides of the plate," Sulser said.
Wilmington's Miguel Almonte continued to shine with another quality outing and improved to 3-2 on the season. The right hander from the Dominican Republic went 6.1 scoreless innings while striking out seven Mudcats batters and giving up only five hits.
Mark Peterson earned the save for the Blue Rocks by pitching a clean ninth inning.
The Blue Rocks scored the game's only runs in the top of the second thanks to costly errors from the Mudcats defense. First baseman Cody Stubbs and right fielder Daniel Rockett both singled to put runners at first and second for Wilmington. Kenny Diekroeger then singled to left to score Stubbs and a throwing error from LeVon Washingtonallowed Rockett to score from first.
Washington's error came on a throw to a vacant third base due to confusion amongst the infielders.
Tucker was disappointed with the error but defended his players by explaining the tough nature of the play.
"It's a very unique play and a very difficult play. It doesn't really happen very often," said Tucker.
Diekroeger, who reached second on the error, was scored on the following at-bat when Terrance Gore hit a ground ball to Todd Hankins who misplayed it for the second error of the inning, making it 3-0.
Sulser tried to defend his teammates play by taking some of the blame for the costly second inning.
"It was one of those things where I gave up a couple of hits right in a row and it's tough because it probably puts the defense back on their heels a little bit," he said.
The Mudcats ran into more trouble in the top of the fifth but a poised pitching effort from Cole Sulser kept the Blue Rocks from scoring. Kenny Diekroeger led off by reaching base on a throwing error from third baseman James Roberts and Terrance Gore advanced the runner with a well placed bunt. Susler then recorded three consecutive outs to prevent the speedy Wilmington runners from adding to their lead.
Sulser learned quickly from the tough second inning and used it to get himself out of the jam.
"I tried to attack hitters but not give them a pitch to hit," Sulser said. "We ended up getting a couple of fly outs to the infield and it worked out."
Carolina nearly scored in the top of the sixth when Wilmington committed their first and only error of the night. Speedy second baseman Todd Hankins laid down a bunt that forced third baseman Michael Antonio into a throwing error to send him to second. Hankins moved to third on a wild pitch from Miguel Almonte but a Yhoxian Medina ground out ended the inning and left him stranded.
The Mudcats drop to 22-28 on the season but Tucker remains optimistic and has faith that his ball club will turn things around offensively.
"Every team goes through it and I've never seen a team or been part of a team that didn't go through a stretch of scoring a lot of runs or scoring very few runs. So you just have to come out the next day, do your work and put together good at-bats."
Carolina is set to look to end the slide on Thursday night when they take on the Wilmington Blue Rocks in the final game of their home stand. South paw Shawn Morimando is set to start for the Mudcats and will face Jonathan Dziedzic.
Daniel is a communication and broadcast media major at North Carolina State University.