Zebulon, N.C. – The Carolina Mudcats attempted a remarkable comeback against the Wilmington Blue Rocks Monday night, but were left with their first season loss falling short, 7-6.
Starting right-handed pitcher and Carolina Mudcats veteran, Will Roberts
, tossed six innings, while right-handed pitcher, Angel Baez
, made his debut in the Carolina league for the Blue Rocks, pitching four innings.
The Mudcats lost a golden opportunity in the first inning when center fielder Tyler Naquin
, who had started the Mudcats’ offense off with a single, ran himself into some trouble. Top prospect and shortstop Francisco Lindor
received a walk; pushing Naquin to second. Right fielder Jordan Smith
then hit a line drive to short stop, allowing the Blue Rocks to catch Naquin off the bag and throwing him out for a double play. Anthony Gallas
struck out for the Mudcats to end the first inning.
Roberts made the second inning look effortless as the Blue Rocks went down 1-2-3 in the top of the second.
The Mudcats’ struck gold in the second when Jake Lowery
hit a rocket to the warning track for a double, bringing Bryson Myles
around to score, giving the Mudcats a 1-0 lead in the second.
The Blue Rocks looked to even the score in the top of the third with hits from shortstop, Kenny Diekroeger
, and catcher, Parker Morin
. Left fielder, Geulin Beltre
, bunted out while putting Diekroeger and Morin in scoring position with only one out and first base open. Second baseman, Justin Trapp
, grounded out to first with a RBI and throwing error by Lowery that allowed Morin to advance to third. The Blue Rocks successfully tied up the game 1-1.
Roberts gave up three straight singles in the top of the fourth inning prompting pitching coach Jeff Harris
to take a visit, which didn’t work. Roberts’ first pitch after the Harris’ visit resulted in a bases clearing double by Wilmington’s first baseman Daniel Mateo
. Mateo scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Morin, giving the Blue Rocks a 5-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Winning right-handed pitcher Cody Fassold
relieved Baez in the bottom of the fifth. Fossil walked Mudcat’s third baseman Todd Hankins
, who then stole second and went to third base on a throwing error by Wilmington’s catcher. With Hankins in scoring position, a Lindor smash to right brought Hankins home for the Muddies second run.
It got ugly for the Mudcats in the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back homers from Mateo and Diekroegar, giving the Blue Rock’s a 7-2 lead.
Right-handed pitcher Owen Dew
made his second appearance for the Mudcats, relieving Roberts in the seventh inning. Roberts ended his first 2013 start with seven runs on eight hits.
“I was proud of Will Roberts. He didn’t have his best stuff tonight but he stayed in there and battled, and gave six innings,” Carolina manager David Wallace said.
The Mudcats scored in the bottom of the eighth with a hit from Valerio that brought in Wendle, who got on base thanks to an earlier single.
Dew was replaced after two innings with left-handed pitcher, J.D. Reichenbach
to finish the final inning for the Mudcats.
The Mudcats continued their comeback in the ninth inning, starting with a base hit from Naquin. Gallas brought Naquin home with a double and Wendle followed with a single that moved Gallas to third. With Gallas and Wendle at the corners, Myles added to the Mudcats’ score with a double, brining in Gallas and Wendle. The comeback left the score 7-6 favoring the Blue Rocks. Lowery grounded out to end the game, giving the win to the Blue Rocks.
Although the Mudcats suffered their first heartbreaker of the season, the overall mentality of the team remained positive. “I was probably more proud of the guys in this game than in any of the other games. They stayed in it and battled back there in the end. We didn’t give in when we got down,” Wallace said.
The Mudcats match up against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Tuesday, April 9, at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, N.C. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.