Mudcats pound the Hillcats, 13-5
Zebulon, NC--The Carolina Mudcats torched the Lynchburg Hillcats 13-5 on Tuesday afternoon behind a season-high 13 runs. Carolina poured in seven runs in the bottom of the eighth to secure the win and derail the Lynchburg comeback attempt.
Feeling the heat from the surging Hillcats, Carolina answered with a series of runs in the bottom of the eighth. Carolina catcher Battaglia doubled to left and took third on a wild pitch from Matt Chaffee who hit James Roberts on the following pitch to put runners on the corners. Yhoxian Medina laid down a surprise bunt that was fielded cleanly by the pitcher who threw home in an attempt to get the lead runner. The Hillcat’s catcher Anthony Nunezbobbled the ball which allowed the run to score and send Roberts to third. Todd Hankins followed it up with a three run blast that cleared the wall in left to put the game out of reach at 10-5.
Later in the inning, Anthony Gallas added to the lead by hitting his fourteenth double of the season off the wall in left to score Logan Vick. Carolina scored two more runs to round out the seven run inning.
Manager Scooter Tucker was excited about his team’s performance and their ability to bounce back from the previous loss.
“It was a good bounce back win after the loss last night,” explained Tucker. “Guys swung the bats well and we had some good situational hitting. It was an all-around good day.”
Anthony Gallas and Todd Hankins both had monster games for the Mudcats on Tuesday. Gallas went 2-4 with four RBIs and Hankins finished 2-4 with three RBIs. Both players went yard against the Hillcats as well.
After struggling through starts during the month of May, Shawn Morimondo (4-2) produced a quality start when the Mudcats needed it most. With the bullpen stretched thin after a short start from Cole Sulser the previous night, Morimondo went 5.0 innings and allowed three earned runs on three hits en route to his fourth win of the season.
“Morimondo pitched five strong innings and he knew we needed some innings out of him today,” said Tucker. “The farther he can go the better.”
The Mudcats opened things up in the bottom of the third with five big runs. Yhoxian Medina reached base on a single to lead off the inning and Lynchburg walked Logan Vick to put runners at first and second. Erik Gonzalez hit an RBI single to left that scored Medina and advanced Vick to second. The hot-hitting Gallas added to it by blasting a three-run shot over the left field wall to make it 4-0.
Carolina right fielder Luigi Rodriguez caught Lynchburg off guard and reached base on a quick bunt later in the inning. Jerrud Sabourin then singled to send Rodriguez to third and set up another scoring opportunity. Carolina catcher Ryan Battaglia capitalized with a double that went over the center fielder’s head to score Rodriguez.
The double from Battaglia was his first hit with the Mudcats after having started 0-10.
Lynchburg managed to get out of the inning with a James Roberts strikeout and a Medina groundout to first. But the damage was done and Carolina had a five run lead.
Carolina’s Todd Hankins continued to look good in his return to Zebulon. The speedy left fielder reached base after being hit by a pitch in the bottom of the fourth. Hankins got some revenge by stealing both second and third during the following bat. With Hankins at third, Erik Gonzalez recorded his second RBI of the game by driving a ball to deep left.
Batista (1-1) took the loss after he went 3.1 innings and allowed six earned runs on eight hits.
Lynchburg managed to fight back with four runs in the top of the sixth. Leadoff man Kyle Wren was hit by a pitch after falling behind 0-2 in the count. A Daniel Castro double to the corner in right scored the speedy Wren from first to cut the deficit to five runs. Morimondo then walked David Nick and Scooter Tucker had seen enough, calling forRob Nixon to relieve the tired southpaw.
The Hillcats continued to score runs later in the inning. A wild pitch advanced the runners and a ground out fromKevin Ahrens plated Castro from third. Will Skinner then doubled down the left field line to score David Nick from second. Still with only one out, Skinner was plated from second by a double to the gap in right center from Edison Sanchez making it 6-4. Carolina recovered by forcing a ground out and a fly out to left center to end the inning.
Lynchburg inched closer in the top of the seventh with yet another run. Anthony Nunez drove a ball to right that resulted in a ground-rule double to lead off the inning. He was advanced to third on a ground out and subsequently scored on a lazy flare that dropped in for an RBI single from Daniel Castro.
The Hillcats failed to score another run and the big eighth inning from Carolina put the brakes on the Lynchburg rally.
The Carolina bullpen held strong in relief of Morimondo. They combined to hurl 4.0 innings in which they allowed two earned on four hits.
Louis Head earned the save after pitching a clean eighth and ninth inning.
Tucker expressed extreme confidence in his bullpen and his team’s pitching effort.
“I wasn’t really worried about them today,” said Tucker. “The bullpen has been doing a good job all season and we felt really comfortable using them.”
The Mudcats (19-16) will battle the Lynchburg (16-20) again on Wednesday at Five County Stadium. D.J. Brown will start for Carolina.
Daniel is a communication and broadcast media major at North Carolina State University.