Keys blow it open in ninth, beat Mudcats 6-2
ZEBULON – After keeping the game close all afternoon, the Carolina Mudcats dropped a heartbreaker to the Frederick Keys 6-2 on Wednesday afternoon at Five County Stadium. The loss drops the Mudcats record to 2-4 in the second half and 24-52 overall.
A crazy ninth inning allowed three runs to score to blow open what was a one-run game.
With right hander Fabio Martinez pitching and runners on first and second after a single, stolen base, and a walk, Frederick attempted a sacrifice bunt. The bunt went right to Sabourin, who was playing in, and got the force out at third base. Still with runners at first and second, a ground ball to third base got the force out at third base, but an error on third baseman Zack MacPhee allowed the runners to advance to second and third with two outs.
There was a great deal of confusion on the play as MacPhee’s throw was wild to first base, and the ball got stuck under the Frederick bullpen bench. Sabourin said the ball was stuck under the bench, and was unable to get to it, but the umpires allowed the runners to continue running the bases. After a long conference, the umpires decided the runners should be at second and third with no runs scoring.
Mudcats manager David Wallace commended the umpires for their work in a difficult situation. “The ball was still live, and with the two man crew, they couldn’t go and check to see if it was dead, so it wasn’t their fault, it was just a difficult situation,” Wallace said.
An intentional walk loaded the bases, and that was it for Martinez, who was replaced by left hander JD Reichenbach. Martinez’s final line was 1.2 innings pitched, three runs, all earned on only two hits with two walks and one strikeout.
An infield single with the bases loaded scored a run, and a single into left field scored two more to stretch the lead to four entering the bottom of the ninth inning.
Wallace was happy with how the team played until the ninth inning. “We played well, and then we gave it away there at the end. We know our offense can mount a rally, but we can’t give it away like that,” Wallace said.
Left hander Shawn Morimando got the start for Carolina, and labored through five innings of work, throwing nearly 100 pitches. Morimando’s final line was five innings pitched, five hits and three runs, all earned. Morimando struck out four batters and walked only one. Morimando was handed the loss, dropping his record to 4-8.
Wallace was very happy with Morimando’s performance.
“I thought he pitched well," Wallace said. "He did well bouncing back after giving up the home run, but he got right back into the zone and started getting guys out again.”
After breezing through the first inning, Morimando allowed a home run with one out in the second inning to put the Mudcats in an early hole. With two outs, left fielder Bryson Myles made a sliding catch to save an extra base hit and end the inning.
First baseman Jerrud Sabourin crushed the first pitch of the second inning to deep right field to lead off the inning with a double. With one out, shortstop Paddy Matera doubled off the left field wall to drive in the tying run.
Matera rose in the batting order again for the second day in a row, from ninth to seventh to sixth on Wednesday. Wallace is very pleased with the former independent league player’s performance.
“He has done such a great job, he can play anywhere in the infield and is a threat at the plate. He’s not getting cheated at the plate at all,” Wallace said.
Right fielder Luigi Rodriguez singled with two outs in the third inning, but reinjured his shoulder on the swing. Rodriguez injured the same shoulder earlier in the season and landed on the disabled list because of it. Bo Greenwell came in to pinch run, and to play right field.
Wallace said hopefully Rodriguez’s shoulder will not be as big of issue as it has been for him in the past.
"When he finishes batting right handed, somehow his shoulder pops in and out of joint," Wallace said. "I hate it for him because he can’t stay out there and get in any kind of rhythm, so we’ll have to get that figured out. He said he doesn’t think it’s as serious as before, but we’ll check him out tomorrow.”
Morimando ran into trouble in the fourth inning, after allowing a single and a double to put runners on second and third with two outs. A strikeout put two away, but a double down the third base line drove in two runs to give Frederick a two-run lead. A groundout back to Morimando ended the inning.
Sabourin led off the fourth inning with his second double of the day, but was unable to advance any further.
Morimando ran into more trouble in the fifth inning, after allowing a single to lead off the inning. With one on and one out, a ground ball to second base got the second out of the inning, but the runner reached on a fielder’s choice. A walk put two on with two outs, but a strikeout ended the inning without allowing a run.
Morimando was lifted after the fifth inning for right hander Grant Sides, who pitched two strong innings of relief, only allowing two base runners, both on walks.
Second baseman Joey Wendle led off the sixth inning with his eighth home run of the year to pull the Mudcats within one. With two outs in the inning, Matera singled to right field, but Myles flew out to deep center field to end the inning.
With two outs in the seventh inning, center fielder Tyler Naquin crushed a double off the left field wall, but Greenwell grounded out to the shortstop to end the inning.
Martinez replaced Sides in the eighth inning after two innings of work and not allowing a hit or a run on two walks and two strikeouts.
Wendle led off the eighth inning with a bloop single to right field, and with one out, designated hitter Jordan Smith hit a double into right field to put runners on second and third with only one out. Matera grounded out to third base, but reached on a fielder’s choice as the third baseman took the force out at third base. However, Myles flew out to left field to end the inning and the threat.
Catcher Alex Lavisky led off the ninth inning by reaching on an error, and MacPhee singled to left field to put runners on first and third with no outs. After Naquin flew out, Greenwell walked to load the bases, but a pop-out by Wendle and a groundout by Sabourin ended the game, leaving the bases loaded.
Carolina finishes the series against Frederick and looks to get back to their winning ways on Thursday night. Right handerMichael Peoples gets the start in the series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15.
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.