Mudcats hold on for 12-11 win
Carolina scores early in high-scoring affair
LYNCHBURG – After being swept by Salem to close out the home schedule, the Carolina Mudcats could ill afford another loss and responded to that in a big way, defeating the Lynchburg Hillcats 12-11 in seven innings on Wednesday night.
After jumping out to a big early lead, Carolina slowly allowed the Hillcats to chip away at it and eventually tie the game before rallying to score the game winner in the top of the seventh inning.
Designated hitter Paddy Matera reached with one out in the top of the seventh inning and moved to third on a double by shortstop Erik Gonzalez. After first basemanJerrud Sabourin was intentionally walked to load the bases, right fielder Logan Vick was hit by a pitch to bring in Matera, which proved to be the winning run.
The game was the first game of a scheduled doubleheader; however, the second game was postponed due to rain. It will now be played on Thursday night, which has now become a doubleheader.
Coming off a week in which he was named the Cleveland Indians player of the week, starting pitcher Joe Colon took the mound for Carolina and labored through five innings, giving up six runs, five of which were earned, on eight hits and three walks.
Carolina jumped out to a huge lead in the top of the first inning by putting six runs on the board before Lynchburg ever came up to the plate. Left fielder Bryson Myles singled to lead-off the game and center fielder Jordan Smith reached on an error. Second baseman Joey Wendle also reached on an error to load the bases with no outs.
Matera was hit by a pitch to force in the first run of the game. Gonzalez followed with an RBI single to score Smith before Sabourin cleared the bases with a three-RBI double to put the Mudcats up by five, still with nobody out. After Vick lined out and catcher Alex Lavisky struck out for the first two outs of the inning, third baseman Todd Hankins lined an RBI single into left field to score Sabourin from second.
Lynchburg answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning, after a lead-off single followed by an RBI double scored the first run. A walk put two on with no outs, and a groundout advanced both runners a base. An RBI groundout scored a second run to cut the lead to four after the first inning.
That would be all of the scoring until the fourth inning, where Carolina added on to their lead. After Myles walked, Smith doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. Carolina was given its first intentional walk of the evening, the one to Wendle to load the bases. Matera made Lynchburg pay by lining a two-RBI single into right field. Both Wendle and Matera were able to advance to second and third on an error on the play. After Gonzalez grounded out for the second out of the inning, Lynchburg decided to make a pitching change.
Hillcats starter Ryan Webber lasted just 3.2 innings, giving up nine runs, six earned, on eight hits and two walks.
The first pitcher from the Lynchburg bullpen walked the first two batters he faced. First, Sabourin was walked to load the bases, before Vick was walked to force in another Carolina run.
Lynchburg again scored after Carolina, this time answering with two runs to cut the lead back to five. Three straight singles to open the bottom half of the fourth scored the first run, before an RBI groundout scored the second run for Lynchburg in the inning.
Carolina responded with two runs of their own in the top of the fifth, after singled by Hankins and Myles put runners on first and second before Smith followed with an RBI single to score Hankins. Wendle crushed a double into left field to score Myles to put the Carolina lead back to seven.
The first Hillcats batter ripped a triple into center field and scored on an RBI single to begin the fifth inning. A series of fly balls moved the runner to third base with two outs before an RBI single brought him home.
Right hander Rob Nixon relieved Colon in the sixth inning and struggled mightily from the first pitch. A lead-off double followed by a walk and a single loaded the bases with no outs. A sacrifice fly scored one run before a three-run home run cleared the bases and cut Carolina’s once seven run lead to one. That would be all for Nixon, who got just one out and gave up four runs on three hits and a walk.
Right hander Louis Head relieved Nixon and gave up a solo home run to the first batter he faced to allow Lynchburg to tie the game at 11 before a groundout and a strikeout ended the inning without allowing the Hillcats to take the lead.
After taking a one-run lead in the top of the seventh, Lynchburg could manage only a lead-off single in the bottom half to end the game.
Carolina will play a doubleheader on Thursday after the second game of Wednesday’s scheduled double header was postponed by rain.
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.