Mudcats snap losing streak with 5-3 victory
Carolina makes use of wild pitching by Salem to avoid sweep
SALEM – Carolina jumped out to an early lead, and held on against Salem as they avoided the sweep by a final score of 5-3 on Sunday night.
The win ends a four game losing streak, and brings Carolina’s record to 3-7 in the second half and 25-55 overall. The win ends a rough June for the team, as they won only six games in the month.
Starting pitcher Cody Anderson got the start and the staff ace pitched a regular game for him, going four innings and allowed only a run on four hits. Anderson struck out six and walked only two batters.
With one out in the top of the first, shortstop Francisco Lindorsingled, but was wiped away as second baseman Joey Wendle hit into the team’s Carolina League leading 74th double play of the season.
Trying to stretch a single into a double, the first Salem batter was out thanks to an outfield assist by right fielder Jordan Smith. Carolina would not be so lucky, as the very next pitch was served up for a home run to give Salem the lead. With two outs, a double to deep center field put a runner on, and then was allowed to steal third before Anderson got a strike out to retire the side.
When a pitcher is having trouble throwing strikes, a team has to make him throw strikes, and take advantage of his miscues, and the Mudcats did just that in the second inning. Red Sox starting pitcher Henry Owens struggled mightily with his command.
First baseman Jerrud Sabourin walked to start the inning, and took second base on a wild pitch. Smith was hit by a pitch, and designated hitter Bo Greenwell walked to load the bases. Sabourin scored on an RBI single by left fielder Bryson Myles to keep the bases loaded. A second wild pitch in the inning scored Smith, and catcher Alex Lavisky was hit by a pitch. Third baseman Zack MacPhee grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Greenwell scored to give the Mudcats a two-run lead.
Wendle singled to lead off the third inning, and Sabourin followed with a walk. Smith hit a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with only one out. However, a grounder to first base and a strikeout ended the inning without allowing a run to score.
Lavisky and MacPhee drew back to back walks on four pitches apiece to open the fourth inning. However, Naquin grounded into a double play, but did advance the runner to third base. Lindor followed with a groundout to third base to end the inning.
After a rough first inning, Anderson settled down for an easy second and third inning. However, Anderson ran into some trouble in the fourth inning. With one out, a single and a walk put the tying runs on base. However, back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning.
After striking out to end the fifth inning, Smith flipped his bat in disgust and was ejected. MacPhee was moved to right field and Paddy Matera came off the bench to play third base.
Left hander Francisco Jimenez replaced Anderson in the fifth inning, and gave up a double to open the inning. With two out, a ball was hit to right field, and new right fielder MacPhee lost his footing and allowed the ball to drop in front of him for an RBI double. An infield single put runners on the corners, but were unable to score a second run in the inning thanks to a groundout to second base.
After finally chasing Owens from the game after five innings, Carolina faced Salem’s bullpen the rest of the night, and took advantage of them. Greenwell opened the inning with a walk, but was out after Myles reached on a fielder’s choice. Lavisky singled for his first hit of the game, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. MacPhee hit an RBI sacrifice fly to add to the Carolina lead for the second out of the inning. Naquin followed with an RBI double to score Lavisky for the second run of the inning. After Lindor walked, Wendle flew out to end the inning.
Right hander Rob Nixon replaced Jimenez after three solid innings of work. Jimenez allowed one run on only four hits and a walk, as he picked up his second win of the season.
Carolina had one final chance to add to their lead in the top of the ninth, but were unable to. Lindor singled and stole second base. Wendle singled to put runners on the corners, and Sabourin hit an infield single to load the bases with no outs. Matera grounded into a double play, as Salem got Lindor out at home and Matera at first base and Greenwell flew out to end the inning without the Mudcats scoring a run.
Right hander Jeff Johnson replaced Nixon, who allowed only one hit in his only inning of work. With one out, three singles allowed a run to score, but a double play would end the inning and the game. Johnson picked up his seventh save of the season.
Carolina returns to Five County Stadium on Monday for the first game of a seven game homestand. Left handerShawn Morimando gets the start for the 7:15 first pitch.
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.