ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (14-13) and Fredrick Keys (9-16) played a doubleheader on Sunday, making up for a Saturday night rainout. They would split the games, with the Keys taking the first game of the doubleheader 1-0, while the Mudcats would earn the split in a 10 inning tilt, 3-2.
The Keys scored the only run in the first game right out of the gate in the first inning, thanks to a leadoff double by Bobby Stevens. He would come around to score on a one-out single by DH Kipp Schultz.
The Mudcats would run themselves out of a great opportunity to put up some runs in the fourth. Centerfielder Tyler Holt led off the inning with a single, and moved to third on a perfect hit-and-run put in play by Tony Wolters. Wolters drove a single into left, which would have put runners at the corners. When the throw came into second base, Holt tried to score, and was eventually tagged out in a run down. Wolters was able to advance to second on the throw, but was stranded with the meat of the order coming up.
The Mudcats would again have an opportunity in the seventh and last inning (minor league doubleheaders are only scheduled for seven innings), with back-to-back singles by Carlos Moncrief and Jesus Aguilar. DH Jake Lowery would fly out, and then the Keys brought in closer David Walters, who would shut down the threat by the Mudcats and end the game.
Michael Goodnight had a good outing, going five innings, giving up only one run on four hits, while striking out five. Shawn Armstrong followed with two scoreless innings to keep the Mudcats in the game, but it just wasn’t to be.
Goodnight would take the loss, and the Keys would take the win, behind a stellar performance by starter Mike Wright, who would go six and one third scoreless innings.
In the second game Brett Brach was able to keep the Keys off the board in the first inning for the first time in the series. Brach would end up going only three innings, but he would not allow a run, allowing only two hits and recording one strikeout.
The Mudcats bullpen would be brilliant for the rest of the way, as they held the Keys in check without giving up an earned run.
Kyle Petter would be brought into the game to relieve Brach in the fourth and would fire a scoreless inning striking out two.
Trey Haley followed, entering the game in the fifth, as the Keys were able to push across two unearned runs. Left fielder Tyler Kolodny was hit by a Haley fastball with one out. Then catcher Joe Oliveira reached on an error by Tony Wolters, allowing Kolodny to move to second and Oliveira to reach at first. Following a successful double steal, shortstop Michael Rooney laid down a suicide squeeze. As Haley came into field he let the ball go underneath his glove allowing Kolodny to score and Rooney to reach first safely, as Oliveira went to third. Rooney then would steal second setting up an opportunity for a big inning. However Tremblay grounded to second and with the infield in, and Wolters was able to throw home, gunning down Oliveira at the plate, as Rooney advanced to third. With two outa, the Keys were able to pull off a double steal, as Rooney took off for second and when catcher Tyler Cannon threw down to second Tremblay was able to come into score giving the Keys a 2-0 lead.
The Mudcats would finally put across a run in the fifth as Holt was able to lay down a perfectly placed bunt with two outs. Shortstop Ronny Rodriguez, who reached with a one-out single and moved to third on another single by Justin Toole, was able to score on the bunt by Holt, giving the Mudcats their first run of the day, while cutting the deficit to 2-1. This would be Zagone’s last inning of work, as he wound up going five innings, giving up one run on four hits, striking out four.
Jason Gurka would come in for the Keys in the sixth and the Mudcats were able to quickly get to him. Moncrief led off the inning with a triple off the top of the wall in center and was then able to score on a sac fly to center by Aguilar to tie the game at 2-2.
The Keys put together a threat off Dale Dickerson in the ninth as they loaded the bases up with one out. However Dickerson was able to induce a double play ball by Oliveira to end the inning.
The Mudcats were able to load up the bases themselves in the ninth off reliever Clayton Schrader. Ronny Rodriguez was hit by a pitch with one out and after a groundout by Toole. Schrader walked Cannon and Holt back-to-back to load the bases up for Wolters. Wolters was unable to come through for the Mudcats as he struck out to end the inning.
The game would finally come to an end in the 10th. Moncrief led off the inning with a triple off the top of the wall in center, and then following intentional walks to Aguilar and Lowery, Schrader would throw a wild pitch, allowing Moncrief to come home to give the Mudcats a 3-2 win to take the series.
The story of the second game would be the Mudcats bullpen as five relievers would combine to throw seven innings giving up only two unearned runs. Dale Dickerson wound up getting the win after firing two scoreless innings.
Moncrief delivered the key hit of game 2, and it didn’t go unnoticed by skipper Edwin Rodriguez after the game, “Carlos has been swinging the bat very well, he’s seeing the ball well and he’s not swinging at many bad pitches and he came through for us today.
Asked after the game about not keeping Brach in longer Rodriguez pointed out that “we [Mudcats] didn’t play yesterday and their were a lot of guys who haven’t thrown in a while and tomorrow we have the day off so I was trying to get guys in there.”
The Mudcats will have an off day tomorrow before heading off on a short road trip against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.