Mudcats storm back late, win game, series
ZEBULON - The Carolina Mudcats (24-27) beat the Wilmington Blue Rocks (24-27) on Thursday night, 7-5. After the Blue Rocks tied the game in the top of the eighth, 2-2, the Mudcats erupted for five runs in the bottom of the inning to take the game and the series from the Blue Rocks.
The Mudcats were led by Jake Lowery who went 2-for-4 with three RBI’s.
“He made some adjustments today," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "Before the game he was working with Scooter Tucker [hitting coach] and it paid off with three clutch RBIs.”
Starter Mike Rayl turned in a great start for the Mudcats. Rayl did not figure into the decision but turned in one of his best outings of the year as he went seven innings giving up only one run on four hits while striking out a season high eight batters.
“It was a very good outing,” said Rodriguez. “He was attacking the hitters. Everything was working for him, the fastball was moving very good and he was able to throw the breaking ball for strikes.”
Center fielder Brett Eibner got the scoring started as he led off the second inning with a towering homer, his seventh of the year, over the left field wall to give the Blue Rocks the early 1-0 lead on the Mudcats.
A two out double by catcher Jake Lowery in the bottom of the second inning brought the score back to even at 1-1. First baseman Jesus Aguilar led off the inning with a double high off the right field wall. After the double back to back strikeouts by left fielder Jeremie Tice and right fielder Carlos Moncrief made it seem as the though Aguilar’s lead off double would be wasted, but Lowery picked up his teammates as he lined a double down the right field line to score Aguilar.
The Mudcats manufactured a run after the first two batters reached in the third inning. Designated hitter Anthony Gallas led off the inning with a single to left and then moved up to second after center fielder Tyler Holt drew a walk. Both runners tagged and moved up on a fly out by shortstop Tony Wolters. A groundout to short by third baseman Giovanny Urshela scored Gallas as the Mudcats took a 2-1 lead into the fourth inning.
The Mudcats missed a great opportunity to add to their lead in the sixth inning. Aguilar was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Tice then hammered a ball off the left field wall, but left fielder Roman Hernandez was able to field the ball quickly and get the ball back in holding Aguilar from advancing any further than second as Tice had to settle for a wall ball single. A wild pitch put the runners on second and third with no outs and Moncrief batting. However the Mudcats couldn’t take advantage of the situation as Moncrief struck out. Lowery then flew out to left and Aguilar tried to tag and score on the play, but a good throw by right fielder Geulin Beltre easily gunned Aguilar at home ending the inning.
Dale Dickerson came in for Rayl in the eighth inning. The Blue Rocks were glad to see Rayl leave as they immediately took advantage of the pitching change as center fielder Whit Merrifield would tie the game with a solo blast to left.
The Mudcats took the lead right back in the bottom of the inning as they got to Blue Rock reliever Santiago Garrido for five runs. Back to back singles by Urshela and Aguilar got the inning started. Urshela was pinch ran for by Delvi Cid and Cid came around to score when Tice doubled off the top of the right field wall as Aguilar stopped at third. After an intentional walk of Moncrief, Lowery singled on a ball that bounced off Merrifield at second allowing both Aguilar and Tice to score. Moncrief and Lowery then came around to score on a double by second baseman Ronny Rodriguez.
Jose Flores came in for the ninth in a non save situation and finished off the game.
The Mudcats have tied their season high win streak of three, which they have done twice.
"It’s all about pitching," Rodriguez said of the small streak. "The starters need to continue to keep us in the game and then I’m pretty sure we’re going to score runs.”
The Mudcats look to extend their win streak to four as they head to Winston Salem to take on the Dash at 7:00 on Friday.