Mudcats rally in extras to knock off Hillcats, 5-3
Carolina closer Louis Head earned his Carolina League-leading seventh save of the year.
LYNCHBURG, VA — The Carolina Mudcats earned a 5-3 come-from-behind road win in extra innings over the Lynchburg Hillcats on Tuesday night. Carolina used a late run in the ninth inning to tie the game and edged the Hillcats in the tenth with two additional runs.
Lynchburg carried a 3-2 lead going into the ninth and had Carolina on the ropes, but a late run evened the game and forced extras. Anthony Gallas singled on a ground ball that made its way into the outfield, and Jerrud Sabourin reached base on a fielding error from Jose Peraza. Alex Monsalve singled to load the bases which allowed Gallas to score on a ground out from James Roberts.
In the top of the tenth, Luigi Rodriguez and Ollie Linton each singled to put runners on the corners and a wild pitch from Lynchburg relief pitcher Nate Hyatt brought Rodriguez home for the score. Carolina completed the rally by scoring Erik Gonzalez from third on a single from Jeremy Lucas to make it 5-3.
Carolina’s Ryan Merritt went 7.0 innings and allowed two earned on five hits, while striking out seven batters. Despite allowing two earned runs, Merritt still holds a 1.45 ERA, which is second best in the Carolina League.
Rob Nixon (1-2) earned the win after pitching two scoreless innings of relief. The big right-hander allowed only one hit and struck out two Hillcats batters without surrendering a walk.
Louis Head earned the save after pitching a clean tenth inning for Carolina.
The Mudcats jumped out to an early lead over the Hillcats in the second game of the series. After two quick outs from Rodriguez and Linton, Gonzalez singled, and stole second base during the following at-bat. Jeremy Lucas then hit a RBI single to left that scored Gonzalez from second to give Carolina a 1-0 lead after the top of the first.
Carolina extended their lead in the second inning by scoring an additional run to create a 2-0 edge over Lynchburg. First baseman Jerrud Sabourin hit a leadoff single to right and was advanced to third after a ground out from Monsalve. Roberts was hit by a pitch and sent to first which set up a RBI opportunity for Yhoxian Medina, who was recently brought back to Carolina from Mahoning Valley. Medina came through for Carolina as he grounded into a force out at second, which allowed Sabourin to score from third.
Lynchburg answered in the bottom of the second with two runs to tie the game. Designated hitter Tyler Tewell hit a single to right, and was brought home on a RBI triple to right from Eric Garcia. A Levi Hyams ground out to short allowed Garcia to reach home plate and level the score.
The Hillcats took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning due to a costly balk call on Merritt. Lynchburg’s Daniel Casto singled on a line drive to right and stole second base during Joseph Odom’s at bat. Castro was then awarded second base after a balk call on the Carolina starter. After a fielding error from Rodriguez allowed Odom to reach first, Castro scored on a sac fly to center from Peraza.
The Mudcats (15-13) will face the Hillcats (12-17) again on Wednesday with Cole Sulser set to start for Carolina.
Daniel is a communication and broadcast media major at North Carolina State University.