Mudcats fall to Lynchburg 9-8
ZEBULON – The Carolina Mudcats lost a heartbreaker to the Lynchburg Hillcats at Five County Stadium on Saturday night 9-8. Carolina grabbed a big lead early, allowed the Hillcats to tie it up by the middle of the game, and allowed Lynchburg to take the lead late. The Mudcats led 5-1 before allowing eight unanswered runs. The loss dropped the Mudcats' record to 13-22 on the year.
Right hander Owen Dew walked the first batter he faced in the eighth inning and allowed the runner to second on a sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch put the runner on third base with one out, and allowed the runner to score on a single into left field. A single past a diving Rodriguez allowed another run to score to give the Hillcats a two run lead. Dew was handed the loss to drop his record to 2-4 on the season.
Making only his second start of the season due to offseason shoulder surgery, Mudcats starting pitcher Elvis Araujo, breezed through the first three innings before a rough fourth inning. Araujo came back to pitch a solid fifth inning.
Mudcats manager David Wallace is happy with how Araujo performed, but thought he was very inconsistent.
Wallace said “He was very inconsistent. He shows flashes of brilliance, but he needs to throw what he knows. He has the stuff to be great, but he needs to know when to throw what.”
Three batters into the game and with a runner on second and one out, rain delayed the game for 33 minutes. Neither starting pitcher was pulled due to the shortness of the delay nor how early in the game was the delay.
After striking out the first batter after the rain delay, Araujo allowed a double to left field that brought the runner on second base home to give the Hillcats a one-run lead.
Center fielder Tyler Naquin led off the first inning with a triple to right field and was able to score to tie the game at one on an RBI groundout by shortstop Francisco Lindor. First baseman Jerrud Sabourin followed that up with a walk to put a runner on first with only one out. Right fielder Jordan Smith crushed a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. Catcher Charlie Valerio then brought both runners home with an RBI double to give the Mudcats their first lead of the series.
The inning was not yet over. Now with two outs, third baseman Joe Sever hit an RBI single up the middle to give the Mudcats a three run lead. Second baseman Zack MacPhee then hit a pop-up to shallow right field that the second baseman for Lynchburg missed that put runners on the corners still with two outs. However, left fielder Aaron Siliga hit a chopper back to the mound to end the inning. The Mudcats scored four runs on five hits in the inning.
After Lynchburg starting pitcher Jarrett Miller needed 42 pitches to get out of the first inning, he was replaced in the second inning by left hander Ronan Pacheco who was able to get through the inning without allowing any more damage.
However, the Mudcats were able to figure out Pacheco in the third inning. Valerio led off the third inning with a single up the middle and was followed up by a walk to designated hitter Luigi Rodriguez. Sever hit a single up the middle to load the bases with nobody out. MacPhee hit into a double play, but Valerio scored on the play to add to the Mudcats lead.
Araujo ran into trouble in the fourth inning. After allowing a leadoff walk followed by a single, a wild pitch allowed the runners to advance to second and third, but a throwing error on Valerio allowed a run to score. With a runner on third and nobody out, Araujo allowed a home run off the scoreboard to allow Lynchburg within one. A single and a double later put runners on second and third still with no one out. An RBI groundout tied the score, now with only one out and a runner on third base. However, the Mudcats were able to get out of the inning due to a couple of nice defensive plays to keep the score tied at five runs apiece.
Araujo was lifted after throwing five innings and giving up nine hits to go along with five runs, all earned. He also had five strikeouts compared to only one walk. Right-hander Michael Goodnight was the reliever that replaced Araujo.
After Goodnight got himself into a jam in the sixth inning, he was able to work around it to keep the game tied. A leadoff double, sacrifice bunt, and a walk put runners on the corners with one out. However Goodnight struck out the next two batters to escape the jam.
Carolina was not able to score in the sixth, but kept the score tied in the seventh due to some stellar defense by Smith in right field and a strikeout. Smith made a running catch for the first out of the inning and a catch at the warning track for the final out of the inning.
With one out in the seventh inning, Sabourin walked and Smith followed that with a single to put runners on first and second. Valerio struck out for the second out of the inning and Rodriguez hit a fly ball to left field for the final out of the inning to end the threat.
With Lynchburg first baseman William Beckwith on first, designated hitter Robby Hefflinger crushed a double into deep center field. Beckwith attempted to score on the hit, but Naquin threw to MacPhee who threw to Valerio to tag the runner out at home to prevent another run from scoring. The runner was safe at second base. After a fly-out to center field the next batter was able to hit a double down the third base line to bring the runner home. A single brought in another run to extend the lead to 9-5.
Carolina attempted a comeback in the ninth inning, but was cut just short.
Lindor led off the ninth inning with a single, and was followed with a single by Sabourin. Smith walked to load the bases with nobody out. Valerio hit a sacrifice fly to bring in the first run of the inning. A wild pitch to Rodriguez allowed Sabourin to score from third base and cut the lead to two. After Lynchburg closer Nate Hyatt walked four, he was replaced as the Hillcats tried to end the game without any more damage. The first pitch Sever saw, he hit a single into right field to bring in a third run in the inning to cut the lead to one. MacPhee grounded out to first base to advance the runners, but Siliga struck out to end the game.
Wallace said “Their closer was effectively wild tonight. He was throwing us good pitches to hit and we were able toaMu take advantage of it. I just wish we could have been able to finish it off.”
The Mudcats continue the series against Lynchburg on Sunday. Left hander Shawn Morimando gets the start for Carolina. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00.
NOTES: Sabourin tied the franchise record for walks in a game with his fourth walk of the game in the seventh inning. He reached a fifth time with a single in the ninth… Smith extended his on-base streak to 21 games, the second longest streak in the Carolina league with his double in the first inning… Lindor was also able to extend his on-base streak to 19 games with a walk in the ninth inning… The Mudcats allowed a franchise record seven doubles in the loss.
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.