Mudcats fall to Pelicans, 5-1
Carolina managed just five hits and made two errors in Sunday's loss
ZEBULON, NC — The Myrtle Beach Pelicans doubled up the Carolina Mudcats in hits ten to five Sunday as they claimed the series sweep with a 5-1 victory.
Carolina starter Cole Sulser kept the Mudcats in the contest with a solid pitching effort, but Christopher Bostick put the game out of reach in the top of the eighth with a three-run homer off newly-acquired Michael Clevinger.
The Mudcats used their lone run to grab the lead off Pelicans starter Chad James in the bottom of the third. With one away, Todd Hankins beat out a grounder to short for a base hit then stole second with Yhoxian Medina at the plate. The shortstop then brought Hankins home with a double to left as Carolina took a 1-0 lead.
However, Carolina’s advantage would be short-lived as the Mudcats gifted Myrtle Beach the equalizer in the top of the fourth. Bostick led off the frame with a double to left before Sulser walked Preston Beck. After Nick Williams went down on strikes, Lewis Brinson sent a seemingly innocent fly ball into right as Luigi Rodriguez jogged in for the routine catch. But Rodriguez was caught off guard as, upon the catch, Bostick bolted to third. Not expecting the runner to tag, a flustered Rodriguez rushed his throw to third and sent it past Yandy Diaz. As Bostick raced home Sulser, backing up third base, sent an errant throw of his own past catcher Ryan Battaglia at the plate allowing the Pelicans to even the score at one apiece.
Bostick again caused Sulser and the Mudcats problems in the sixth. After Luis Mendez led off with an infield single, the Pelicans second baseman doubled to left as Mendez moved up to third. After Beck failed to bring in the run by grounding out to first, Nick Williams did the trick with a grounder to short as Mendez scored to make it 2-1.
Sulser (4-11, 5.30) took the loss, going 6.0 innings. The right-hander allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits while walking one and fanning six.
Although minimal run support meant Sulser took the loss, Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker was proud of his starter’s effort.
“He did a good job of establishing his fast ball today,” said Carolina’s skipper. “He threw a lot of strikes and did a really good job, I was very pleased with him.”
In relief, Tucker turned to Michael Clevinger, who was acquired by the Indians in exchange for Vinnie Pestano in Thursday’s trade with the Los Angeles Angels.
The former fourth round pick quickly retired the side in the top of the seventh, but ran into trouble an inning later.
After walking Kevin Torres and giving up a base hit to Chris Garia, Clevinger struck out Mendez before Bostick provided the right-hander with an unceremonious welcome to the Carolina League.
Bostick sent his ninth homer of the year just inside the foul pole in left as Myrtle Beach jumped out to a comfortable 5-1 lead.
Clevinger recovered to pitch a scoreless top of the ninth, as his first line as a Mudcat saw him dinged for three earned runs on four hits in 3.0 innings.
Acknowledging the difficulty of a late-season organization switch, Tucker was glad Clevinger had a chance to get his feet wet with the Mudcats Sunday.
“Changing organizations can take some getting used to,” Tucker admitted. “He’s got a college teammate here (Hankins) so it’s been a pretty good adjustment. Once you get between the lines though, none of that matters you have a job to do. We wanted to get him some work today to get him ready for a start.”
Tucker added that Clevinger will be used as a starter, as he was in the Angels organization, the rest of the way.
James (4-1, 3.16) earned the win for Myrtle Beach, allowing the one earned run on four hits in 5.0 innings of work. He walked three and struck out five.
Tucker could do little but tip his cap to the Pelicans pitching staff: “To their credit, they came in here and pitched really well this weekend with good defense.”
Now 23-26 on the second half, the Mudcats remain a half game behind Winston-Salem in the playoff race as Lynchburg took down the Dash Sunday.
Having now dropped eight in a row at Five County Stadium, the Mudcats will hope for better fortune on the road as they follow the Pelicans home for a series in Myrtle Beach.
First pitch is set for 7:05 PM.