Mudcats Shutout in Series Finale
ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (21-18) were shut out by the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (22-17) in their attempt to sweep the series as they fell 3-0. The Pelicans returned the favor to the Mudcats, who shut them out the previous night.
Michael Goodnight took the mound for the Mudcats and turned in a solid outing as he went seven and two third innings, giving up only three runs on seven hits. “He kept us in the game, he did his job tonight. The offense couldn’t get a clutch hit to help him out,” said Manager Edwin Rodriguez. The Mudcat pitching staff had a fantastic series as they only surrendered four runs over the three games.
Goodnight was out-dueled by Luke Jackson, who tossed six scoreless innings.
The Mudcats were not without chances in this game, as they had the leadoff hitter reach in five of the first six innings. The bats fell silent, however, when there were runners in scoring position, as they combined to go 0-8, leaving a total of 11 runners on base. “That was the key to the game not getting any clutch hits. The pitchers kept us in the game but you have to be able to get big hits and we didn’t do that tonight” said Rodriguez.
The Mudcats had runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the first, with top prospect first baseman Jesus Aguilar coming to the plate, but the slugger was unable to take advantage. The Mudcats failed to capitalize on the opportunity, as Aguilar popped out to second and then center fielder Carlos Moncrief grounded out to third to end the threat.
DH Todd Hankins led off the third with a single and then stole second to put himself in scoring position with no outs, but again, the Mudcats were unable to take advantage. Shortstop Tony Wolters struck out, and after a walk to right fielder Bo Greenwell, Jackson stuck out third baseman Giovanny Urshela and got Aguilar to pop out to short to end the threat.
Three straight singles by the Pelicans to lead off the fifth resulted in the first run of the game. Shortstop Hanser Alberto got the inning started with a soft lined single to center, then he moved to third on a single by first baseman Jhonny Gomez. With runners on the corners, left fielder Jeremy Williams ground a single by a diving Ronny Rodriguez at second to push across Alberto. On the play Gomez moved to third, but as the throw came into third from the right fielder, Williams tried to move to second and was eventually tagged out.
The Mudcats then pulled the infield in to try to prevent Gomez from scoring and it paid off as Goodnight induced a grounder by third baseman Edwin Garcia to second. Rodriguez was able to make a strong throw home to gun down Gomez at the plate. Goodnight got out of the inning as he induced a fly out to center by right fielder Yefry Castillo to end the inning with the Mudcats just down 1-0.
The Mudcats tried to put together a two out rally to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth. Wolters started the rally with a two out single to right. Greenwell followed the single up with a lined shot down the right field line for a double. Wolters, motoring around from first on the hit, was held up at third as a good relay from Castillo in right gave Wolters no chance to score. Urshela then came up a drilled a grounder to third but Garcia was able to make the play, ending the threat for the Mudcats.
The Pelicans put together a two out rally of their own in the sixth as a two out hit batter came back to hurt Goodnight. Goodnight hit DH Brett Nicholas, allowing catcher Vinny DiFazio the chance to come to the plate. DiFazio drove a ball off the center field wall that allowed Nicholas to come all the way around from first to score, as DiFazio stopped at second for a double. The Pelicans weren’t done either, as Alberto came up and drove a single to right to score DiFazio and give the Pelicans a 3-0 lead.
The Mudcats loaded up the bases in the bottom of the ninth to put the tying run on base with two outs against Pelican closer Ben Rowan. However, Greenwell struck out to end an off night for the Mudcats offense.
The Mudcat offense will look to get on the same page as their pitchers as they head into a three game series against the Lynchburg Hillcats that kicks off Friday night at 7:15 at Five County Stadium.