ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (28-33) behind a great start from Jordan Cooper took the second game of the series from the Salem Red Sox (22-37) 4-2.
Cooper tossed seven scoreless innings in which he allowed six hits while striking out six. He has allowed no runs in his last two starts, spanning a total of 12 innings.
“All of Cooper’s pitches were working tonight. He had a lot of movement on his fastball and his secondary pitches. When he’s on like he was, it’s very hard to hit him” said manager Edwin Rodriguez.
Even with Cooper pitching so well, Justin Toole was the one that stole the spotlight. Toole, who has been a utility man throughout this season, took it to a new level tonight as he played every single position. Toole started in right field and proceeded to move around the field playing a different position every inning, culminating in him pitching the ninth, where he would record the save. Toole did give up two solo home runs in relief.
“This was his day. He was having fun out their, the whole team was having fun and the fans were having fun. This is a day I’m pretty sure he will never forget” said Rodriguez.
DH Giovanny Urshela also had a big night of his own, hitting two home runs, both solo shots. The Mudcat offense as a whole was able to get an early lead off Sox starter Miguel Celestino, scoring three in the first three innings, which would be all Cooper would need.
The Mudcats looked to jump out to an early lead off Sox starter Miguel Celestino as Second baseman Tony Wolters and Toole both reached to lead off the bottom of the first. Urshela then grounded into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners for shortstop Ronny Rodriguez. Rodriguez smoked a liner down the third base line that was caught; Urshela strayed off the bag at first and was easily doubled off to end the threat for the Mudcats in the first.
Center fielder Delvi Cid came through with a two run, two out, RBI double in the second to drive in the first runs of the game. Third baseman Todd Hankins was hit by a pitch with one out to start the Mudcats threat. Hankins then took off for second with catcher Dwight Childs batting. The throw down from catcher Jayson Hernandez sailed into center, allowing Hankins to move up to third. Childs was unable to take advantage, as he struck out. After a walk to left fielder Michael Bradley, Cid came up with runners on the corners. He drove a ball to deep center that allowed both Hankins and Bradley to easily score to give the Mudcats the early 2-0 lead.
Urshela tacked on to the Mudcat lead as he drove a one out solo shot just over the right field wall to extend the lead to three.
Another solo shot by Urshela, this one off Sox reliever Pete Ruiz, in the eighth extended the lead to four in the bottom of the eighth.
After replacing Rob Nixon in the ninth Toole got the first batter he faced to fly out to right, but then gave up back-to-back home runs to left fielder Drew Hedman and second baseman Sean Coyle to end the shutout attempt. Toole bounced back to strike out the next two hitters to pick up the save.
The Mudcats will look to take the series from the Sox as they face off at 2:00 on Sunday at Five County Stadium.