Mudcats blow early lead, but score late to squeeze out 6-5 win
Zebulon, NC—After blowing an early lead, the Carolina Mudcats used two late runs to pull out a 6-5 win over the Frederick Keys on Wednesday night at Five County Stadium.
A four run seventh inning put the Keys on top 5-4, but Carolina showed determination as they continued to fight back. With Joe Sever at first, Eric Haase scorched a double off the left field wall to score one and tie the game.
The Mudcats would go on to loaded the bases in the bottom half of the eighth behind two singles and a Yhoxian Medina walk. Jerrud Sabourin remained patient at the plate as Frederick’s Dennis Torres threw four balls to issue a walk and force the go ahead run in to give Carolina a one run lead.
Grant Sides secured the win by holding the Keys scoreless in the top of the ninth.
Despite blowing the four run lead, Carolina manager Scooter Tucker was proud of his team’s effort during the win.
“Overall it was a good win, we had one hairy inning where the ball wasn’t bouncing our way but the guys battled back to make it a great night,” Tucker explained.
The win brings the Mudcats to 26-30 during the second half and 56-68 on the year. The Mudcats now sit 1.5 games out of the wildcard spot.
Carolina starter Dylan Baker (3-2, 4.68) had a strong outing in which he allowed just one earned run off of seven hits over 5.1 innings. The right hander fanned four and walked three on his way to a no decision.
“I think Dylan had a good, quality start,” Tucker said. “I thought he was really composed tonight and he did a good job of getting out of a couple of tough situations by using his secondary pitch so I was very pleased.”
Sides (4-1) earned the win after pitching 2.1 scoreless innings for the Mudcats in which he allowed just two hits while striking out four Keys batters.
Frederick’s Matt Taylor struggled through his start as he was hit seven times for three earned runs across 4.1 innings.
Dennis Torres (1-2) shouldered the loss after surrendering the game winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
The game started off with a half hour delay due to heavy rain and both teams seemed to need the first couple of innings to get things going.
The Mudcats broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third thanks to a costly error from Frederick’s Lucas Herbst. The inning started with a lead off single from Logan Vick and back to back ground outs from Yhoxian Medina and Yandy Diaz that advanced the runner to third base. Now with two away, Jerrud Sabourin slapped a low line drive towards Herbst but a muffed catch resulted in the error and a Logan Vick score.
The Keys were out for revenge in the top of the fourth and a lack of command from Dylan Baker nearly put the Mudcats in a big hole. Frederick’s Tucker Nathans singled on a ground ball to right and consecutive walks loaded the bases for Luis Pujols’ ball club. Steve Karsay then attempted to settle his right hander and a short meeting at the mound seemed to do the trick. Baker would go on to pull himself out of the jam by fanning Brenden Webb and forcing Jerome Pena to ground out into the shift.
Frederick could only lament on the missed opportunity in the following frame as Carolina plated three runs. Eric Haase singled and moved to third on a LeVon Washington single that sailed over the head of first baseman Trey Mancini. Washington was picked off at first on the play, but a Luigi Rodriguez RBI single to left brought the fans to their feet as Haase trotted across home plate. Rodriguez would go on to steal second base and score after a Logan Vick single up the middle. Logan Vick then mimicked Rodriguez by stealing second and scoring on Yhoxian Medina’s soft flare into left to make it 4-0.
All three runs in the fourth inning came with two outs.
The four run lead would not be enough as the Keys scored five straight runs to take the lead.
Frederick scored their first run in the top of the fifth thanks to a leadoff home run from Steel Russell.
The Keys then added four big runs in the top of the seventh to edge out a one run lead. With Michael Peoples in to relieve Baker, John Ruettiger singled to left and stole second base. Trey Mancini plated Ruettiger with a ground ball single up the middle to make it a 4-2 ball game. Jason Esposito then reached base after a throwing error from Yhoxian Medina which allowed Mancini to reach third. With runners on the corners, Lucas Herbst singled to right to bring Mancini around to score.
Tucker had seen enough out of Michael Peoples and elected to insert Grant Sides to pull his team out of the tough seventh inning but a Brenden Webb triple off the right field wall plated two additional runs and put the Keys on top 5-4.
But Webb’s big hit would prove to be meaningless as the Mudcats rallied over the final two innings.
Scooter Tucker defended Michael Peoples tough seventh inning by acknowledging the difficulty of transitioning from a starter to a reliever.
“He is transitioning to that bullpen role and coming out of the bullpen is not as easy as everyone thinks,” Tucker noted. “But we’ll keep working on it and finish out the year strong.”
Carolina returns to action on Thursday as they continue their push towards the postseason. Right hander Adam Plutko is set to take the mound for the Mudcats as they square off with the Frederick Keys for the final time during the regular season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
Daniel is a communication and broadcast media major at North Carolina State University.