Mudcats fall to Keys 3-1 in pitchers' duel
Carolina loses in extra innings in back-to-back games after Friday's loss to the Frederick Keys.
ZEBULON, NC – The Carolina Mudcats fell to the Frederick Keys 3-1 after 11 innings of play on Friday night at Five County Stadium.
With a steady rain falling in the top half of the eleventh inning, two Keys were walked by left-hander Elvis Araujo. When it was all said and done both runners came around to score to give Frederick a two-run lead.
The Mudcats went three up, three down in the bottom of the 11th to preserve the final score.
Mudcats right-hander D.J. Brown started his second game of the year, taking Dylan Baker’s spot in the rotation due to injury. Brown dominated through six innings allowing only one run on four hits with three strikeouts.
Both teams cruised through the first four innings of the game, allowing a combined three base runners. Of the three runners that did reach, two were for the Mudcats; however, none of the three advanced past first base.
With two outs in the top of the fifth inning, Brown allowed a solo home run to left field by shortstop Adrian Marin, his first of the year, gave the Keys the first lead of the game. This was the first runner allowed to advance past first base.
Frederick was the first team to get two runners on base at the same time in the sixth inning. The leadoff man for Frederick ripped a ball down the left field line, and left fielder Todd Hankins was fast enough to get the ball back to the infield to keep the runner at first. A bunt single put runners on first and second with no outs; however, Brown struck out the next two batters, and induced an inning ending groundout to keep the Keys from adding to their lead.
Third baseman James Roberts singled to left field to lead off the sixth inning, and was the first Mudcats base runner since the third inning after another Roberts single. Carolina was unable to bring him around to tie the score though, as the next three batters each flew out to end the inning.
Right-hander Benny Suarez relieved Brown in the seventh inning
Shortstop Erik Gonzalez tied the game with one swing of the bat on a home run to left field. The home run was Gonzalez’ first of the year and extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
The Mudcats were not done there as the next batter up, first baseman Jeremy Lucas, walked, and catcher Alex Monsalve hit a sacrifice bunt to advance Lucas to second with only one out. Designated hitter Anthony Gallas advanced Lucas to third on a groundout for the second out. However, Lucas would be stranded there as right fielder Luigi Rodriguez grounded out to end the inning.
A one-out single in the eighth inning, and a stolen base threatened to allow the Keys to take the lead, but a strikeout and a groundout kept Frederick from scoring and taking the lead.
Frederick starter Branden Kline was relieved in the eighth inning after a dominant start, going seven innings allowing only one run on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
Roberts walked to leadoff the eighth inning, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Roberts was unable to come around to score as center fielder Logan Vick flew out to left field to end the inning still tied at one.
With one out in the ninth inning and a runner on first, a ground ball was hit back to the pitchers mound and hit Suarez in the hip. Suarez attempted to stay in the game, but after throwing two balls to the next batter was shut down for the night.
Suarez was relieved by Araujo, who after walking the first batter he faced, induced an inning-ending double play.
The Mudcats threatened in the ninth inning after Lucas singled with one out. Monsalve crushed a ball to center field, but a diving catch by Frederick center fielder Brenden Webb prevented a run from scoring sending the game to extra innings.
Rodriguez was walked to leadoff the tenth inning and advanced to third base on back-to-back groundouts. A walk by Hankins and a defensive indifference call put runners on second and third, but a fly out to left field by Vick ended the threat and sent the game to the 11th inning.
Carolina returns to action on Saturday continuing the series against Frederick. Left-hander Shawn Morimando gets the start for the Mudcats.
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.