Mudcats can't hold late lead, fall 5-3
WILMINGTON - The Carolina Mudcats blew an eighth inning, one run lead to give the Wilmington Blue Rocks a 5-3 victory at Frawley Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Blue Rocks came up to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning facing a 3-2 defiect. Mudcats’ reliever Dale Dickerson had replaced fellow reliever Shawn Armstrong with two outs in the seventh inning after pitching nearly three scoreless innings, holding Wilmington to just two hits while striking out four batters.
Dickerson ended the seventh inning with a strikeout and forced Blue Rocks’ catcher Kevin David to ground out to open the eighth inning. All that changed when Dickerson gave up a one out walk to Wilmington designated hitter Angel Franco.
With Franco at first base, Blue Rocks’ second baseman Whit Merrifield hit a double to left field. Franco raced around the bases and scored from first, tying the game 3-3. Credited with a double, Merrifield ended up at third on the throw home. Dickerson walked the next batter, Wilmington short stop Alex McClure, and Blue Rocks’ third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert was able to reach first base on a fielding error by Carolina short stop Tony Wolters.
Merrifield easily scored from third on the error, and with Wilmington on top 4-3, Dickerson allowed Blue Rocks’ first baseman Brian Fletcher to reach first base with his third walk of the inning.
With the bases loaded and Dickerson on the ropes, Wilmington center fielder Brett Eibner shot a single to left field that brought in McClure for the final run of the night. In 1.1 innings, Dickerson allowed three runs on two hits and allowed the Blue Rocks to mount a comeback when all of the momentum had swung Carolina’s way.
The Mudcats weren’t able to do anything against Wilmington closer Chase Buroff in the top of the ninth. Buroff retired all three batters in order giving Wilmington a 5-3 victory and handing Carolina their third loss in four games.
Trailing only 2-1 entering the top of the eighth inning, Carolina’s offense found new life when Wilmington brought in closer Buroff. Following an intentional walk that loaded the bases, Jeremie Tice appeared to be the hero of the game when he smashed a double to left field that brought in two runs.
However, Buroff spoiled the Mudcats’ victory when he was able to strike out Ronny Rodriguez with the bases loaded to end the inning and halt any further Carolina scoring threat.
Coming into Tuesday night's game, all four teams in Southern Division of the Carolina League held a record of 5-5, and with the loss Carolina falls to 5-6 and drops from first to third place in the division.
The Mudcats’ will wrap-up their three game road trip in Delaware with an 11:05 a.m. start against the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Wednesday.