Mudcats battle back, but fall short
ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (13-10) fought back from deficits of four and three runs to tie the game at 4-4 and 7-7 but ended up falling by a score of 8-7 to the Winston Salem Dash (12-11) in the opening game of a four game series on Monday night.
Mike Rayl took the mound for the Mudcats and was ineffective against the Dash bats as he allowed seven runs over five innings of work.
“He lacked command of his secondary pitches and had to rely a lot on his fastball and that got him into trouble. When you have to rely on your fastball like he did you are going to get into trouble and he did,” said manager Edwin Rodriguez.
Despite the lack of a good outing from Rayl the Mudcats offense kept them in the game even if they did end up falling short.
“Our offense has been doing a very good job. They have been doing the little things, making contact and making things happen and today was a very good example,” said Rodriguez.
The Dash jumped on Rayl early as they scored four off him in the first. After getting shortstop Marcus Semien to pop out to lead off the inning, Rayl allowed the next six batters to reach leading to a four run first. There were three straight singles to load up the bases for the Dash. Rayl then hit designated hitter Cyle Hankerd chasing home the Dash’s first run. Right fielder Michael Earley then came up and doubled to center, resulting in two more runs for the Dash. The final run of the inning came on a sac fly hit to center by catcher Miguel Gonzalez which scored Hankerd.
The Mudcat offense erased the defecit in the second as a lead off walk by first baseman Jesus Aguilar sparked a rally for the Mudcats as they pushed across four runs off Dash starter Jake Petricka to tie the game in the second inning. Right fielder Carlos Moncrief followed the walk with a deep drive off the center field wall for a double that moved Aguilar to third. Aguilar came in for the first Mudcats run of the night when shortstop Ronny Rodriguez grounded out to short.
Following another walk by left fielder Anthony Gallas, designated hitter Tyler Cannon singled sharply to left to easily push across Moncrief as Gallas moved to third. Gallas and Cannon both came around to score on a double down the left field line by catcher Dwight Childs to tie the game at 4-4.
Third baseman Giovanny Urshela looked to break up the tie in the third as he led off the inning with a shot off the top of the left field wall missing a home run by inches as he settled for a lead off double. The Mudcats were unable to take advantage of the lead off double as Urshela was stranded as Petricka was able to work around the hit.
The Dash got a lead off double of their own in the top of the fourth as Semien drove a ball to left to start the inning. After second baseman Carlos Sanchez popped up his sac bunt attempt to Rayl it looked like the Dash would also waste an opportunity to break the tie. Rayl induced a fly out to get within an out of getting out of the jam; however, the Dash got a clutch two out double by first baseman Dan Black to push across Semien. The Dash weren’t done as Hankerd doubled to left center to push across Black giving them a two run lead at 6-4.
Third baseman David Herbek tacked on to the Dash lead as he led off the fifth with a solo shot to left.
Steven Upchurch came in to relieve Petricka in the seventh and the Mudcats were able to push across two runs off him. Three straight singles to lead off the inning by Childs, right fielder Bo Greenwell and Toole loaded the bases up for Urshela. Urshela hit a sac fly to center scoring Childs as Greenwell moved to third. Upchurch looked to minimize the damage as he induced a pop out to third by Aguilar for the second out of the inning, but Moncrief came up with a big two out single to right to push across Greenwell for the second run of the inning cutting the deficit to 7-6.
The Mudcats tied the game in the eighth off reliever Bryan Blough. Gallas led off the inning with a double to left. Following the double, Cannon hit a grounder to short that Semien misplayed as it glanced off his glove and dribbled by him. As the ball rolled away Gallas came around to tie the game at 7-7.
Back to back doubles to lead off the ninth by the Dash off Mudcat reliever JD Reichenbach allowed them to retake the lead for good. Black led off the inning with a double down the left field line. He came around to score on a double by Hankerd to right giving the Dash an 8-7 lead.
The Mudcats will look to bounce back on Tuesday night as they look to even the series against the Dash as they face off at 7:15 at Five County Stadium.