Dash even up series with Mudcats
The Winston-Salem Dash quickly erased the memory of their opening day loss to the Carolina Mudcats with a strong 7-2 victory on Saturday night at Five County Stadium.
A towering solo home run in the second inning by Dash catcher Mike Blanke set the tone for the evening, and Mudcats' left-handed starting pitcher Mike Rayl got the loss due to a four run fourth inning by Winston- Salem that put the game out of reach.
Rayl certainly learned that lesson the hard way on Saturday night, but Mudcats manager Edwin Rodriguez believes that he will do fine moving forward.
“[Rayl] is not going to overpower hitters," Rodriguez said. "He needs to get ahead in the count, but he was having trouble doing that [tonight]. On any level when you pitch behind in the count you are gonna get hurt.”
The adjustments that Winston-Salem made following Friday nights blow out certainly paid off as Dash hitters were able to work the count in their favor against Rayl. Carolina pitchers combined for eight walks that kept the bases filled for Winston-Salem all night for them to do some damage.
Winston-Salem took advantage of Rayl early in the contest. After a solid first inning, things quickly unraveled for Rayl in the second inning when center-fielder Trayce Thompson singled up the middle to give the Dash their first base runner of the game. With first-baseman Dan Black at the plate, Thompson got caught leading off the base too far and Rayl picked him off.
Had Thompson been more patient on the bases, he would have crossed home plate easily as on the next pitch Dash catcher Mike Blanke broke the scoreless tie by crushing a solo home run over the 20-foot high wall in left field.
Winston-Salem added another run in the third inning off second-baseman Carlos Sanchez’s line drive double to right field. Carolina outfielder Carlos Moncrief tracked a line drive hit to the side wall in right field but was unable to make the catch and Winston-Salem took a 2-0 lead.
Mudcats centerfielder Tyler Holt earned his fourth hit of the series with a stand up double to left field to lead off the bottom of the third inning. Holt was able to advance to third on a wild pitch from Dash pitcher Andre Rienzo. Mudcats’ third baseman Giovanny Urshela sent Holt home on a sacrifice fly to deep right field for Carolina’s first run of the game.
The fourth inning was devastating for the Mudcats as Rayl’s control started to diminish. Before he knew it, the bases were loaded and Dash designated hitter Michael Earley stepped up to the plate and crushed a two run double off the wall in left field. Winston-Salem’s next batter third baseman Jake Oester followed up with a two run single that broke the game wide open and put them up 6-1.
Carolina attempted a late game rally but could only manage one run. A one out double by Urshela off Dash reliever Chris Bassitt in the eighth inning put runners at second and third for Carolina. First baseman Jesus Aguilar reached base when a ball thrown to Dash first baseman Dan Black failed to field the ball cleanly and allowed Carolina second baseman Tony Wolters to score on the bobble.
Designated hitter Jeremie Tice was able to draw a walk off Bassitt to load the bases, but pinch hitting catcher Dwight Childs grounded into a double play that effectively ended the Mudcats chances of a comeback.
After the game Rodriguez talked about how the Carolina League is a tough league.
"It is a very good league for [these players] to learn how to approach the big leagues," Rodriguez said. "[We] are gonna be facing seven more teams in five months. That is the closest you can get to the big leagues.”
Carolina will host Winston-Salem for the final game of the series at two o’clock on Easter Sunday.