ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (3-0) fell to the Frederick Keys (1-2) 5-0 in the series opener.
The Mudcats were unable to get anything going off Keys starter Tyler Wilson, who faced the minimum through the first six and one third innings. Left fielder Bo Greenwell doubled with one out in the seventh becoming the first Mudcats’ batter to get into scoring position, Greenwell was the only base runner for the Mudcats to get past first in the game. Wilson became the first Key starter to pitch seven innings in a start this season.
It looked as though it was going to be a pitching duel as Mudcats’ starter Will Roberts started off the game with four scoreless innings. Roberts gave up a run in the fifth, and as manager Edwin Rodriguez put it “He hit a wall.” Roberts gave up three runs in the sixth as he seemed to lose the touch he had earlier in the game. “He needs to find a way to be more consistent when he gets up towards fifty pitches” said Rodriguez.
The Mudcats would put base runners on, but were unable to take advantage. Their first base runner came in the third, as right fielder Anthony Gallas drove a single to center. However Wilson induced a groundball double play by catcher Jake Lowery.
Wilson hit leadoff hitter Tyler Holt in the fourth, but Holt was caught stealing on a great throw by catcher Joe Oliveira. Left fielder Bo Greenwell then singled to right, but another double play ball, this one hit by third baseman Giovanny Urshela, meant Wilson still had faced minimum through the fourth.
The first two batters for the Keys would reach in the top of the fifth. The Keys then manufactured the first run of the game. DH Micahel Flacco, brother of Ravens QB Joe Flacco, singled to left to lead off the inning. Oliveria then backed Flacco’s hit up as he reached on a bunt single. A sac bunt by center fielder Johnny Ruettiger pushed both runners over and then Flacco would score on a grounder to short by shortstop Garabez Rosa. Roberts would get out of the inning as he got left fielder Steve Bumbry to groundout to first.
A three run home run by Baker in the top of the sixth gave the Keys some breathing room. After back to back singles to lead off the inning by third baseman Travis Adair and second baseman Ty Kelly, Baker came up and drove his lead leading 14th home run over the left field wall to make the lead 4-0. Roberts then surrendered a double to Nowak before settling back down. After a groundout to short by Flacco that would allow Nowak to move to third, Roberts was able to bear down to keep the lead at four.
A double by Rosa in the top of the ninth added on another run for the Key’s. Shawn Armstrong, who had come in to the game in the eighth, gave up a one out infield single to Ruettiger. Ruettiger would steal second and then move to third on a wild pitch and easily scored on Rosa’s double to right center.
Wilson ended up throwing arguably his best outing of the year as he went seven scoreless innings giving up only three hits while striking five. The Keys would turn to David Walters, their closer, once removing Wilson and he would also have no trouble with the Mudcats bats as he pitched two scoreless innings.
Rodriguez was impressed with Wilson. “He was making good pitches. We didn’t make adjustments against him, but again, not everyday are we going to have a lot of hits and when that happens our pitching needs to keep us in the game.”
The Mudcats will look to get back on track Monday as they again take on the Keys at 7:15 at Five County Stadium.