Mudcats beat the Pelicans and weather, 7-2
ZEBULON- On a rainy, overcast day at Five County Stadium the Carolina Mudcats (6-8) and Myrtle Beach Pelicans (8-6) took the field for the third game of the series.
A heavy rain storm that came through Zebulon delayed the game after the start of the second inning for an hour and 23 minutes. The delay would ultimately cut both the Mudcats and Pelicans starters’ nights short. But the rain would not cool of the Mudcats bats as they were able to crank out seven extra base hits in a 7-2 win over the Pelicans.
Brett Brach would make his first start of the season after making two previous appearances out of the bullpen. Brach was making the start in place of injured starter Danny Salazer.
Brach would only end up going just one-plus inning but in that time he was able to do something Mudcats starters had yet to do against the Pelicans in the series. He was able to hold the Pelicans without a first inning run.
Francisco Jimenez would end up getting the win for the Mudcats as he would come in to relieve Brach after the rain delay. Jimenez, who was scheduled to pitch in the series finale Sunday, went four innings and gave up two runs on four hits recording four strikeouts.
“Jimenez was the difference in the game," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He wasn’t supposed to pitch today but he came in and pitched four great innings and got the win.”
After falling behind early in the first two games the Mudcats were able to strike first off Pelican starter Wilmer Font. On a three-two count first baseman Jesus Alguilar was able to rope a double down the left field line allowing third baseman Giovanny Urshela - who had drawn a two out walk - to score from first. Urshela slid into home just ahead of the relay giving the Mudcats a 1-0 lead after one inning.
Following the delay the Pelicans brought in Joe Van Meter. The Mudcats were able to get to Van Meter in the third inning as back to back triples by left fielder Delvi Cid and Tyler Holt to lead off the inning allowed the Mudcats to score their second run of the game. A ground out to short by shortstop Tony Wolters plated Holt giving the Mudcats a 3-1 lead after three.
The Pelicans were able to answer in the top of the fourth off Jimenez. First baseman Brett Nicholas was able to drive a two-out home run over the right field wall to cut the Mudcat lead to 3-2.
The Mudcats were able to extend their lead in the fifth as the Pelicans brought in a new pitcher Francisco Mendoza. Singles by Cid and Holt gave the Mudcats first and third with no outs. Wolters again was able to get the man in from third as he grounded to second allowing Cid to score and Holt to move to second. Following a single by Urshela, Alguilar hit a fly ball to right scoring Holt from third giving the Mudcats a 5-2 lead after five innings.
Shawn Armstrong came in to relieve Jimenez in the sixth inning and would get himself into a jam by walking two batters and loading the bases. However Armstrong was able to induce a pop out by left fielder Teodoro Martinez to second baseman Ronny Rodriguez to end the threat. This would mark the last real threat for the Pelicans against Mudcat pitching.
Catcher Dwight Childs added a run in the bottom of the sixth when he belted a solo homer off the left field scoreboard to give the Mudcats a 6-2 lead. The Mudcats weren’t done in the sixth as they put together a two out rally. Holt drew a walk and then stole second. The stolen base by Holt gave Wolters an opportunity with a man in scoring position to extend the Mudcats lead as he drove a ball down the right field line for a double scoring Holt and giving Wolters his third RBI of the night and more importantly the Mudcats a 7-2 lead.
This is all the Mudcats would need as the bullpen on this night was able to hold the lead. In all the Mudcats bullpen went eight innings giving up only two runs. Relievers Armstrong, Jordan Cooper and Jose Flores combined to throw four scoreless innings to finish off the game.
The Mudcats have scored a total of 18 runs through the first three games of the series against the Pelicans who came into the series with the best team ERA in the league.
“The first week we were swinging the bats very well and then we went through a struggle at the plate," Rodriguez said. "We have very young hitters and their [pitchers are] going to make adjustments on them, so they have to start making adjustments of their own, and they're showing now that they're starting to make those adjustments.”
The Mudcats will look to continue to keep their bats hot on Sunday afternoon as they take on the Pelicans in the series finale at 2:00 pm in hopes of splitting the four game set. Directly after the game Rodriguez said “he had no idea” about who would start on Sunday in place of Jimenez.