Mudcats bullpen implodes in 14-8 loss
ZEBULON- On Tuesday night the Carolina Mudcats (8-8) looked to get above the .500 mark for the first time since April 15th as they took on the Lynchburg Hillcats (9-6) for the second game of the four game series.
The story of this game was the awful pitching by the Mudcats bullpen that resulted in a 14-8 loss. The Hillcats jumped all over the Mudcats bullpen and scored 13 of their 14 runs against them.
The Mudcats had an early 4-1 lead but the bullpen was unable to hold the Hillcats off the scoreboard. The Hillcats exploded in the sixth scoring five runs, three off Kyle Petter who started the inning and two off Jordan Cooper. The Mudcats did have some fight as they continued to put up runs despite their bullpens ineffectiveness.
“They were pitching behind in the count, and at any level if you’re pitching from behind in the count your going to get hurt," Mudcats manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "The 13 runs, that’s unacceptable. You just have to throw strikes.”
Right-hander Michael Goodnight took the mound for the Mudcats however was only able to go four innings and gave up one run. Goodnight’s inability to go further into the game proved to be the downfall of the Mudcats.
The Hillcats were able to score their one run off Goodnight in the first inning, and without the help of a base hit. Ahmed took a one out walk and then stole second, and then moved to third as second baseman Tommy La Stella grounded out to first. A wild pitch allowed Ahmed to score giving the Hillcats the early 1-0 after the top of the first.
The Mudcats looked to respond in the bottom of the first off Hillcat starter Gus Schlosser as center fielder Tyler Holt and second baseman Tony Wolters both reached to lead off the inning. But third baseman Giovanny Urshela grounded into a double play and first baseman Jesus Aguilar grounded out to second to end the inning.
For the second straight inning the Mudcats saw their first two batters reach in the second inning, but this time they would cash in. Designated hitter Jeremie Tice singled to lead off the inning and then catcher Jake Lowery doubled off the wall in right center. After a strikeout by Anthony Gallas, shortstop Ronny Rodriguez grounded out to short allowing Tice to come home to tie the game at 1-1 after two innings.
The Mudcats got the first two batters on again in the forth after Aguilar and Tice led off the inning with back to back singles. Lowery moved Aguilar to third with a long fly ball to left field. Gallas hit a broken bat blooper over the second baseman's head driving in Aguilar and moving Tice to third with only one out. Rodriguez singled in his second RBI of the night as he bounced a ball over third allowing Tice to score and moving Gallas to third. After a strikeout by right fielder Delvi Cid, Holt kept the inning going with a single up the middle scoring Gallas and giving the Mudcats a 4-1 lead after four innings.
Lefty Kyle Petter came in to relieve Goodnight following the fourth and the Hillcats would get to him right away. The Hillcats led off the inning with three singles, two of which were infield hits. With the bases loaded La Stella singled to left scoring both center fielder L.V Ware and designated hitter Matt Lipka bringing the Hillcats to within one run at 4-3.
However, Petter was able to get out of the inning without further damage as he was able to induce a double play as Gattis lined to Rodriguez who was then able to throw Ahmed out at second as he strayed a little to far from the bag. After the Hillcats loaded the bases back up on a single by third baseman Edward Salcedo and a walk by Garcia, Petter struck out right fielder Kyle Rose to end the inning.
The Hillcats continued to beat up on the Mudcats bullpen in the sixth inning. Catcher Braeden Schlenhuber led off the inning with a bloop single to right and was moved to second by a bunt by Ware. Following a walk by Lipka, Ahmed was able to send a line drive back up the middle scoring Schlenhuber tying the game at four and ending the night for Petter. Jordan Cooper was brought in for Petter and was not able to keep the men on base from scoring. Following a double steal, Cooper threw a wild pitch allowing Lipka to score. Cooper then gave up back to back homeruns by Gattis and Salcedo giving the Hillcats an 8-4 lead after the top of the sixth.
The Hillcats brought in Caleb Brewer to relieve Schlosser and the Mudcats quickly took advantage as the Hillcats defense cost them. Cid reached on an error by Ahmed. Brewer then walked back to back men allowing the Mudcats to load the bases with no outs. Urshela then grounded to short on a tailor made double play ball but Garcia dropped the ball at first, allowing not only Cid to score from third but Holt to come around from second to score cutting the deficit to 8-6.
However the Mudcats bullpen was unable to keep the game close. Gattis hammered his second home run of the game with two men on in the eighth to give the Hillcats an 11-6 lead.
The Mudcats continued to swing the bats and were able to put up two more runs in the eighth. Tice led off the inning with a double and then later in the inning scored on a grounder by Gallas that was booted by Salcedo. Following a fielder’s choice that resulted in Gallas moving to second, Cid sent a double off the right field wall scoring Gallas cutting the defecit to 11-8.
The Hillcats ownded the night and were were able to continue to push runners across in the ninth off the Mudcats third reliever Dale Dickerson. With the bases loaded Salcedo hit a grounder to second baseman Tony Wolters. Wolters tagged Gattis going to second but then threw the ball over first baseman Justin Toole, who came in to replace Aguilar in the seventh, allowing two runners to score.
The Mudcats bullpen combined to give up 13 runs, all earned, on 15 hits.
The Mudcats will look to get back on track on Wednesday as they will take on the Hillcats once again at 7:15 at Five County Stadium.
Note: Asked after the game about Aguilar and why he was taken out, Rodriguez said, "He was hurt but the trainers say that he should be alright for tomorrow. Just a little bit sore.”