Mudcats cruise past Dash 5-3
Wendle's home run helps to lead Mudcats
ZEBULON - The Mudcats jumped out to an early lead on Friday night at Five County Stadium and never relinquished it as the team held on for a 5-3 win over the Winston Salem Dash. The win brought Carolina’s record to 16-30 on the season.
After an unexpected day off on Thursday, the Carolina Mudcats returned home for a seven-game homestand and three games against the Winston Salem Dash.
Carolina starting pitcher Shawn Morimando gave up a hit to the first batter of the game, but that was the lone hit allowed through his five innings pitched. Along with his one hit, Morimando gave up only two walks and struck out five. With his performance, Morimando picked up his first win since April 18 to raise his record to 2-5.
Mudcats manager David Wallace has been happy with how Morimando has been pitching as of late. Wallace said “I would have liked to have seen him go a little deeper in the game, but he’s being more aggressive in the strike zone. The last couple of outings he’s challenged guys and really showed us what he’s got.”
Offensively, Carolina was led by center fielder Tyler Naquin who went 2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored. Left fielder Luigi Rodriguez walked three times and second baseman Joey Wendle hit a home run.
The Mudcats got on the board first in the first inning when right fielder Jordan Smith chopped a pitch over the pitcher’s mound with Naquin on third with two outs. Naquin led off the innings with a double to right center before Rodriguez hit a ground out to advance him to third, before Smith hit his RBI infield single.
Carolina added to the lead in the second inning before an out was recorded. Third baseman Joe Sever was hit by a pitch to start the inning and first baseman Ryan Battaglia crushed a pitch off the right field wall for a double. However, the throw from the Winston Salem right fielder got away from the infield that allowed both runners to advance, and Sever to score. Shortstop Yhoxian Medina skipped a hit an RBI single to bring Battaglia home to give the Mudcats a 3-0 lead after two.
The Mudcats added to the lead in the fifth inning. With Naquin and Rodriguez on first and second and only one out, Smith hit a grounder to second base. Rodriguez was out at second, but the Winston Salem shortstop threw the ball into the dirt past first base, and Naquin was able to score on the error to give Carolina a 4-0 lead after five innings.
Wendle crushed his second home run of the season in the seventh inning to add to the Carolina lead.
The shutout was broken up in the sixth inning. Right-hander Michael Goodnight gave up a double to the first batter he faced. A groundout advanced the runner to third base with two outs and a single to right field pushed the runner across for the Dash’s first run of the game.
Carolina loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth inning on two walks and an infield single. Naquin, Rodriguez and Wendle all struck out to end the inning without bringing another run home.
Right hander Jeff Johnston gave up two runs in the ninth inning, but struck out three batters in the inning to close out the win.
Wallace said, “He’s just gotten off of the disabled list with that ab thing, but I thought he actually pitched well.”
The Carolina infield was not a common lineup for the team. Sever was at third base, with Median at shortstop and Battaglia at first base. Wendle played just his third game since coming off the disabled list with an orbital fracture. Third baseman Todd Hankins has been out since April 21st with a right wrist fracture and first baseman Jerrud Sabourin has been on the seven day disabled list since May 18th with a groin injury. Catcher Tony Wolters was also making just his fourth start of the season at that position.
Wallace said, “It was a little different, but Medina is versatile and Sever played some great defense tonight.”
Sever made several nice defensive plays on the hot corner for the Mudcats. To end the fifth inning he took a slow grounder from the edge of the outfield grass in the corner and beat out the runner by two steps. Also, for the first out in the fourth inning, a grounder was hit sharply to the corner, and Sever was able to knock it down, pick it up, and still had plenty of time to throw out the runner at first base.
Carolina continues the series at home against Winston Salem on Saturday. Right hander Nick Pasquale gets the start for the Mudcats on Military Appreciation Night. First pitch is scheduled for 6:15.
NOTES: Catcher Tony Wolters extended his hitting streak to five games with a single in the seventh inning… Right handed relief pitcher Rob Nixon pitched his fourth straight scoreless appearance.
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.