Mudcats fall to Blue Rocks, 5-3
WILMINGTON, DE- The Carolina Mudcats blew a late lead and dropped the opening game of a three game set in Wilmington to the Blue Rocks by a score of 4-3. Defense was a problem for both teams, combining for six errors in the game, and both teams gave up two unearned runs.
Both teams had opportunities to score early, but both squandered chances to gain the early advantage.
The Mudcats had trouble scoring early in the game, even though they were able to get on base. With two on and only one out in the second inning, left fielder Anthony Gallas grounded into an inning ending double play. Then, after loading the bases in the third inning with two outs, the Mudcats failed to score once again after a groundout to first base by right fielder Jordan Smith.
Starting pitcher Jordan Cooper got the start against the Blue Rocks. After struggling to start the first inning, Cooper was able to get out of a bases loaded jam with only one out thanks to a short fly ball to center field and a ground ball to first base to escape the inning. Cooper settled down to pitch six solid innings, giving up only five hits and one run, retiring the last seven batters he faced.
Blue Rocks second baseman Kenny Diekroeger broke up the scoreless tie to start off the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo home run, his second of the season.
The Mudcats literally stole the fifth inning from the Blue Rocks. After reaching on a leadoff walk, third baseman Todd Hankins stole second base and third base on consecutive pitches, to give him four on the season, before center fielder Tyler Naquin drove him in to tie the score at one run apiece. With shortstop Francisco Lindor at bat, Naquin stole second base, his first on the season, to bring the go ahead run into scoring position. Lindor proceeded to groundout to second base, but managed to move Naquin to third, which proved to be enough to chase Blue Rocks starting pitcher Angel Baez out of the game after four and one-third innings.
This brought in left-handed relief pitcher Antonio Cruz. Still in the fifth inning, second baseman Joey Wendle reached on an error, to bring up right fielder Jordan Smith, who hit a sure fire double play ball up the middle. After recording the out at second base, the throw sailed over the first baseman’s head to allow Naquin to score from third, and Smith to advance to second base with two outs. First baseman Jerrud Sabourin lined out to end the inning. The Mudcats were able to score twice to take a one run lead on one hit, two errors, and three stolen bases.
Wendle was able to reach base for the third time of the night in the seventh inning on a wild pitch strikeout. Smith followed with a grounder up the middle that got the runner out at second, but Smith was safe at first base. On a pitch to Sabourin, Smith stole second with two out, the Mudcats fourth stolen base of the night. Sabourin followed this with a grounder up the middle, but the throw to first base was wide, allowing Sabourin to second base, and Smith to score to give the Mudcats a 3-1 lead.
Owen Dew came in in relief to pitch the seventh inning and ran into trouble from the first pitch. Blue Rocks catcher Parker Morin doubled to start off the inning, and took third base on a wild pitch by Dew two batters later. Morin went on to score on an RBI single by designated hitter Justin Trapp. Trapp was then able to advance to second on a groundout to third. After an error by Mudcats third baseman Todd Hankins allowed another runner aboard, Blue Rocks center fielder Lane Adams crushed an RBI double to center field that allowed two runs to score and the Blue Rocks to take a 4-3 lead.
Hankins reached on an error with two outs in the eighth inning, and was able to advance to second base on a throwing error on the pickoff attempt by relief pitcher Andrew Triggs. Naquin singled later in the at-bat, but Hankins was thrown out at home attempting to score to end the threat and the inning.
The Mudcats were able to get the tying run on base to start the ninth inning with Wendle drawing the walk, but that’s as far as he would get before a fly out and a ground out to end the game.
As a team, the Mudcats stranded 11 runners on base, and went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Dew was struck with the loss after tossing two innings, giving up three hits, and three runs, only one earned.
The Mudcats continue the series against Wilmington on Tuesday, sending right-hander Cody Anderson to the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 as the Mudcats attempt the end a three game losing streak.
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.