Mudcats come back, but lose in ninth
ZEBULON - Looking to bounce back after a disappointing road trip in which the Carolina Mudcats went 2-4, the Mudcats (6-6) took on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (6-6) on Thursday night at Five County stadium to open a four game series.
The Mudcats were able to crawl back into the game after starter Micahel Goodnight struggled early. The Mudcats were down 5-1 after the top of the fourth but were able to come back and take the lead going into the ninth 6-5. Reliever Jordan Cooper wasn’t able to close the game out as he allowed two runs in the ninth which ultimately cost the Mudcats the game as they would end up losing 7-6.
The Pelicans got to Goodnight early. In the top of the first Yefry Castillo was able to single to right and was then given second base after a balk by Goodnight. With two outs catcher Tomas Telis blooped a single to left center allowing Castillo to score giving the Pelicans an early 1-0 lead.
The Pelicans were able to keep the pressure on the Mudcats in the second. After singles by second baseman Santiago Chrino and right fielder Josh Richmond, Goodnight walked shortstop Edwin Garcia to load the bases with only one out. Designated hitter Obdul Herrara hit a sac fly to right allowing Chrino to score and advanced Richmond to third. Goodnight was able to limit the damage with a little help from center fielder Tyler Holt as Holt was able to track down a shot hit by Castillo on the warning track in center.
It looked like Goodnight would be able to get out of the third inning unscathed after Goodnight induced a double play ball hit by Telis to erase the lead of single by left fielder Jared Hoying. But with two outs center fielder Jack Skole turned on a pitch hitting it just over the right field fence giving the Pelicans a 3-0 lead.
The Mudcats were able to finally able to get to Pelican starter Nick Tepesch as they were able to push across a run in the third as left fielder Anthony Gallas lead off the third with a long double off the top off the left field wall. After a sacrifice bunt by Holt, second baseman Tony Wolters was able to hit a grounder to second scoring Gallas cutting the deficit too 3-1.
However in the top of the fourth the Pelicans stuck again as an error by Wolters, a walk, and a blooped single loaded up the bases with no outs for the Pelicans. Goodnight was able to induce a double play by Herrara which gave Goodnight the opportunity to get out of the inning with limited damage but a two out single by Castillo gave the Pelicans a 5-1 lead.
This would be the last inning that Goodnight would pitch as he left the game after surrendering five runs in four innings, giving up at least one run in every inning, and six hits including two walks and one strikeout.
“Goodnight struggled with command," manager Edwin Rodriguez said after the game. "He reached his pitch count [early] with 82 pitches in four innings. That’s why we took him out.”
The Mudcats were able to answer with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning off Tepesch. Jeremie Tice was hit by a pitch with one out and then catcher Jake Lowery followed with a double off the left field wall. Carlos Moncrief took advantage of the men in scoring position as he was able to hit a line drive single to right field chasing both Tice and Lowery home pulling the Mudcats back within two at 5-3.
Tepesch would end up going another inning and two thirds to finish the night giving up three runs in five and two thirds innings allowing six hits and recording 5 strikeouts.
J.D Reichenbach was the first man to come in to relieve Goodnight and he would fare much better. He recorded his longest outing of the season going three scoreless innings while recording five strikeouts.After allowing the first batter he faced to reach Reichenbach would end up retiring nine straight batters.
“JD came in and did a hell of a job keeping us in the game," Rodriguez said.
The first relievers out of both pens came in and threw scoreless innings as Pelican reliever Zach Osborne pitched one and one third scoreless innings in relief of Tepesch. It was the second reliever to come in for both squads which ultimately decided the game.
In the bottom of the eighth the Mudcats would score three runs on Pelican reliever Jimmy Reyes. Reyes loaded up the bases with one out as right fielder Carlos Moncreif came to the plate. Moncreif hit a grounder to first baseman Brett Nicholas who booted it allowing Mudcat first baseman Jesus Aguilar to score and Moncreif to reach safely.
Following the error the Pelicans brought in Randy Henry to replace Reyes. Henry quickly gave up a single to Ronny Rodriguez allowing pinch runner Delvi Cid to score tieing the game at five; however, on the play Lowery was thrown out trying to score from second. Moncrief took third on the throw home, and this extra base from Moncreif would prove to be huge as he was able to score on a wild pitch giving the Mudcats a 6-5 lead heading into the ninth inning.
“We came back the other day against Wilmington and then were able to do it again today," Rodriguez said about the offense mounting a late inning comeback. "We were facing very good pitching today. The [Pelicans] were leading the league in pitching. We came from behind and tied the game and took the lead. So the offense just needs to keep plugging away.”
The Mudcats lead would be short lived as Cooper came in to relieve Reichenbach and gave up two runs in the ninth. Richmond lead of the inning with a single and was then bunted over by shortstop Edwin Garcia. Following the bunt Rodriguez went out to talk with Cooper.
“I was letting him know that he had first base open and that he has room to work,” Rodriguez said.
But two wild pitches to Herrara allowed Richmond to come around to score the tying run. Then Herrara was able to get a hold of a one and drove it just over the right field fence to give the Pelicans a 7-6 lead.
“He did good in the eighth inning and we needed to find out what he could do," Rodriguez said about leaving Cooper in the game in the ninth inning. "He needs to be more aggressive and he needs to throw the first pitch over the plate.”
This was a tough one for the Mudcats to lose. Coming off a disappointing road trip they were looking to build some momentum early in this eight game home stand.
The Mudcats will play the Pelicans again Friday night in Five County Stadium at 7:15.