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Mudcats lose pitchers' duel 2-1 to Blue Rocks

All three runs scored in Sunday's game came in the seventh inning.

Mudcats lose pitchers' duel 2-1 to Blue Rocks
Despite the team's struggles from the plate on Sunday, designated hitter Alex Monslave went 2-for-4 with a double and a RBI in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks. (Photo Credit: Tony Lastoria)
May 5, 2014
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ZEBULON, NC – Carolina came up on the wrong end of a pitchers' duel, losing 2-1 to the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Sunday afternoon.

The Mudcats managed only three runs against the Blue Rocks over the final three games of the series after scoring six runs in the opening contest.

Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker says offensive slumps are expected throughout a season, and it is only a matter of time before the team turns it around.

“We failed to make a play, and we just didn’t get enough runs, simple as that” said Tucker.  “Of course you go through tough stretches like that, but they have good pitching.  We play them a lot this half, so we have to swing the bats.”

Catcher Jeremy Lucas says the team doesn’t lack confidence, but the recent spell is just a rough patch.

“We need to figure out how to swing the bat” said Lucas.  “It’s just one of those times in the season, but once we start swinging them again, we can go on a roll.”

Right-hander D.J. Brown took the mound for Carolina, and was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Mudcats depleted bullpen as he scattered seven hits over 6.2 innings allowing two runs, only one earned. 

Brown was handed the tough luck loss, falling to 2-1 on the season, while sporting an impressive 1.75 ERA. 

Tucker was very proud of Brown’s performance, saying it was exactly what the team needed after the bullpen was forced to pitch 12.1 innings over the previous two games.

“We needed to bounce back and have a good game and he kept us in the game and gave us an opportunity to win” said Tucker.  “He’s still in the transition from reliever to starter, so if he can go out and get us into the sixth or seventh inning, we are going to be very pleased.  Today he pitched a heck of a game.”

Over the first three innings, the Mudcats collected three hits, but were unable to move any runners past first base. 

Despite giving up a leadoff double to center fielder Bubba Starling in the fourth inning, Brown retired the next three batters to strand the runner on second.  Starling’s double was only the second time a runner advanced as far as second base on the afternoon. 

Before allowing a one-out single in the sixth inning, Brown had retired seven straight batters.  A two-out single in the inning put runners on the corners for Wilmington and put a runner for the first time all afternoon.  A chopper back to the mound got the Mudcats out of the jam to keep the game scoreless. 

With one-out in the seventh inning, Brown allowed a double and a single to put runners on the corners.  The Blue Rocks attempted a squeeze bunt to drive in the first run of the game, but a heads up play by Lucas prevented Wilmington from scoring for the second out of the inning.  A hit batsman would load the bases and Brown’s day would be over.

The 6.2 innings pitched is Brown’s longest outing of the season. 

Right-hander Grant Sides relieved Brown, and with two strikes on the batter, allowed an infield hit to bring in the first run of the afternoon. Shortstop Yhoxian Medina skipped the throw past first base to allow a second run to score. 

The Mudcats attempted a rally in the bottom of the seventh after allowing the Blue Rocks to take a two run lead in the top of the inning.  With two outs, left fielder Anthony Gallas hit a single to center field and first baseman Jerrud Sabourin walked to put two runners on base for Carolina for the first time on the afternoon. 

That would be it for Wilmington starter Daniel Stumpf, who allowed only one run on four hits over 6.2 innings.

Designated hitter Alex Monsalve crushed a ball off the left field wall to bring in Gallas for the first run of the afternoon for Carolina.  Sabourin, attempting to score from first was easily thrown out at home to end the inning with the Mudcats down by one.

“It’s easy to look back and second guess the decision to send Sabourin now, but it was a no brainer to me in the moment” said Tucker.  “If Alex (Monslave) had just hit it a few feet higher, I wouldn’t have been in that situation.”

Carolina got runners on the corners in the eighth inning, but could not bring the tying run. 

With two outs in the ninth inning, Sabourin walked and Monsalve singled to put runners on first and second.  However, the runners would be stranded as third baseman James Roberts flew out to left field to end the game. 

Carolina travels to Lynchburg on Monday to face the Hillcats for the first time this season.  Right-hander Michael Peoples (0-2, 6.35) looks to get in the win column for the first time in 2014.

Daniel is a communication and broadcast media major at North Carolina State University.

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