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Mudcats fall to Hillcats in pitchers dual; 3-2

Carolina SP Cole Sulser allowed 3 hits and 3 runs in Friday's loss.

Mudcats fall to Hillcats in pitchers dual; 3-2
Carolina starter Cole Sulser allowed 3 hits, 3 ER and struck out 5 in Friday's loss to Lynchburg. (Photo credit: Tony Lastoria)
July 18, 2014
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LYNCHBURG, VA - The Carolina Mudcats (17-12, 46-50) dropped another close one to the Lynchburg Hillcats (13-15, 47-51), losing 3-2 in Friday’s rubber match.

A two-run fourth inning carried the Hillcats to the series win as Lynchburg overcame a two-RBI performance from Joe Sever in Carolina’s final game of the season at Calvin Falwell Field.

David Nick put the Hillcats ahead in the bottom of the third. The left-fielder led off the home half of the third by sending Carolina starter Cole Sulser’s (3-9, 5.05) offering over the fence in left to put Lynchburg up 1-0.

The Mudcats quickly surged back, tying the game in the top of the fourth. With one out, Sever’s second homer of the season drew Carolina level as the teams exchanged solo shots for a 1-1 score.

But the stalemate was short-lived as the Hillcats retook the lead in the bottom of the frame. With one away, Jose Martinez singled to right and Kevin Ahrens walked to set the table for Justin Bloxom. The Hillcats first baseman came through, doubling to left as Martinez scored and Ahrens moved up to third. Tyler Tewell then doubled Lynchburg’s lead with a sacrifice fly to left as Ahrens crossed the plate to give the Hillcats a 3-1 advantage.

Lynchburg did all of its damage Friday off Sulser. The righty took the loss allowing three earned runs on three hits in a 6.0 inning start. He struck out five while walking one.

Sever and the Mudcats drew one back in the top of the sixth off Hillcats starter Daniel Watts (2-2, 4.66).  After Erik Gonzalez drew a one-out walk, Sever doubled to left as the fleet-footed shortstop came all the way around to score bringing the Mudcats within one at 3-2.

Just as the Hillcats did with Sulser, Carolina only managed to score off Lynchburg’s starter. However, it was not enough as Watts earned the win allowing the two earned runs on three hits in 5.1 innings. The southpaw walked three and struck out eight.

Relievers Rob Nixon and Clayton Cook kept the Mudcats close, each pitching scoreless innings with the Hillcats failing to even register a hit off the Carolina bullpen.

Carolina certainly had their opportunities late, getting the tying run to third in both of the game’s final two innings.Todd Hankins struck out to open the eighth, but Gonzalez singled to right then moved within 90 feet of tying the game as Sever followed with a base hit to left. This prompted Lynchburg to turn to Alex Wilson, and the right-hander got the job done preserving the Hillcats lead. He got the second out as Gonzalez was retired at the plate on Yandy Diaz’s grounder to third, before Jeremy Lucas’s lineout to center ended the Mudcats threat.

Wilson had to escape another jam in the top of the ninth. Alex Monsalve singled up the middle to leadoff the frame, but LeVon Washington then struck out. James Roberts followed with his own single to center to put the tying run in scoring position, but Yhoxian Medina followed by grounding into a fielder’s choice at second to put the Mudcats down to their final out. Wilson then ended the game by striking out Hankins for his tenth save of the year.

Carolina will now travel to Myrtle Beach for a three-game set with the Pelicans beginning Saturday. The Mudcats will start lefty Ryan Merritt (9-3, 2.10) in Saturday’s opener at Field.

First pitch is set for 7:05 PM. 

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