Mudcats prevail over Keys 6-5
Carolina comes out on top in back-and-forth battle
FREDERICK – Despite allowing the Frederick Keys to tie the score or take the lead on three separate occasions, the Carolina Mudcats were able to keep the lead when it mattered, defeating the Keys 6-5 on Thursday night. The win allowed Carolina (25-19, 47-67) to keep the division lead over Myrtle Beach.
With the score tied at five entering the ninth inning, second baseman Todd Hankins laced a leadoff double to left field and center fielder Tyler Naquin beat out a bunt single to reach safely, advancing Hankins to third base. An RBI single by right fielder Jordan Smith scored Hankins, which proved to be the winning run.
After being promoted from Mahoning Valley on Wednesday, starting pitcher Robert Whitenack made his third start of the season for the Mudcats. Whitenack pitched five plus innings, giving up five runs, only two earned, on six hits. Whitenack also struck out one batter as well as allowing one walk and hitting a batter.
Whitenack was not the only player making his return to Carolina on Thursday night. Hankins played in his first game with the Mudcats since breaking his right wrist on April 21st. Hankins was promoted from Lake County, where he had played 36 games.
Carolina jumped out front in the top of the first inning. Back-to-back singles by Smith and left fielder Bryson Myles followed by a passed ball put runners on the corners with one out. Third baseman Paddy Matera hit an RBI single to left field to put the Mudcats ahead 1-0.
The lead did not stand for long as they gave the run back in the bottom half of the inning. Frederick’s leadoff batter reached due to a throwing error by Hankins and a throwing error by Matera in the next at-bat allowed runners to the corners with no outs. Despite the next batter grounding into a double play, the tying run scored.
The Mudcats retook the lead in the third inning as Naquin doubled with one out and Myles singled to third base with two outs. However, a throwing error allowed Naquin to score to give Carolina a 2-1 lead.
Frederick’s bats came alive in the fourth inning to take their first lead of the night. A single and a hit batter put runners on first and second with no outs. An RBI single tied the game a walk loaded the bases, still with nobody out. A sacrifice fly with one out brought in another Frederick run to give the Keys their first lead.
The Keys lead did not stand for long as Carolina crossed the plate three times in the fifth inning. The Mudcats loaded the bases with one out in the inning on back-to-back singles by Smith and Myles followed by a walk to Matera. An error allowed Smith to score and catcher Alex Lavisky to reach safely to leave the bases loaded. Myles then was brought home on an RBI single by designated hitter Bo Greenwell to again keep the bases loaded.
That would be all for Frederick starting pitcher Tim Berry, who lasted just 4.1 innings, allowing five runs, only two earned, on eight hits, and three walks compared to only one strikeout. A sacrifice fly by shortstop Erik Gonzalez scored Matera before first baseman Jerrud Sabourin grounded out to end the inning.
With rain falling in the sixth inning, Frederick re-tied the game thanks to a sloppy inning defensively by the Mudcats. Back-to-back singles to lead off the inning and a fielding error by Gonzalez allowed the Keys to cut the lead to one and that would be all for Whitenack.
Whitenack was relieved by right-hander Owen Dew, who came in and induced a double play for the first two outs of the inning. Despite the double play, Frederick tied the score at five.
With one out in the eighth inning, Dew allowed a single and walked a batter to put runners on first and second. Right-hander Louis Head replaced Dew, and struck out the next two batters to end the inning without allowing a run to score. Head (2-1) also pitched a perfect ninth inning for the victory.
Carolina continues the series against Frederick on Friday night. Right-hander Cody Anderson takes the mound for the Mudcats. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
NOTES: Myles extended his season-long hitting streak to 20 games. The streak sets a franchise record for longest hitting streak by a Mudcats player.
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.