Offensive explosion ends losing streak
ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (22-27) ended their six game losing streak in a big way as they defeated the Wilmington Blue Rocks (24-25) 11-3 on Tuesday night.
Led by shortstop Tony Wolters and left fielder Jeremie Tice’s three RBI’s each, the offense was able to pound Blue Rock pitching to help propel the Mudcats to the win. A six run sixth inning after the Blue Rocks cut the lead to one proved to be more then the Blue Rocks could overcome.
“It was a good game stopping our losing streak in that way. Our offense was very efficient but overall this game is all about pitching. Danny Salazar went out there for three innings and set the tempo for the game and then [Kyle] Blair came in and did a good job also,” said manager Edwin Rodriguez.
Salazar pitched three scoreless innings, striking out two hitters while giving up only one base runner - a two out single in the second. Salazar is still on a strict pitch count as he is building up his stamina after recently coming off the disabled list. Kyle Blair was featured prominently for the Mudcats as he went five innings giving up three runs on five hits.
A rain delay of 27 minutes in the fourth didn’t seem to faze the Mudcats as they came right out and scored the first runs of the game in the bottom of the inning off Blue Rocks starter Tyler Sample. An error by first baseman Juan Graterol allowed Wolters to reach to lead off the inning. Following a fly out, first baseman Jesus Aguilar drove a double off the left field wall, inches shy of being a home run, as Wolters stopped at third. Left fielder Jeremie Tice drove in both Wolters and Aguilar with a double down the left field line.
Blair got in trouble in the sixth but limited the damage to only one run. Graterol led off the inning with a line shot single to left. Following a fly out by shortstop Alex McClure, Blair walked second baseman Whit Merrifield. A passed ball with third baseman Angel Franco batting allowed Graterol and Merrifield to move up. Franco then grounded to short and Wolters fielded it and threw home in an attempt to cut down Graterol. Graterol was able to beat the throw resulting in no outs as Merrifield moved up to third. Blair regrouped and got out of the inning by inducing a pop out and groundout.
The Mudcats got that run back and then some in the bottom part of the inning as they batted around and put up six runs to blow open the game.
Back to back singles by Wolters and Aguilar to start the inning resulted in the end of the night for Sample as the Blue Rocks brought in Edwin Carl. Tice came up and drove a single to left scoring Wolters, and then right fielder Carlos Moncrief drove a double into the gap in right scoring Aguilar as Tice held up at third. Lowery was intentionally walked to face shortstop Ronny Rodriguez who then struck out for the second out of the inning. Back to back walks to designated hitter Anthony Gallas and center fielder Tyler Holt resulted in two more runs, and then with Wolters batting for the second time in the inning he drove a single to left scoring two more as the Mudcats took an 8-1 lead after six.
The Blue Rocks tacked on two more in the eighth as they put together three straight one out hits cutting the defecit to five at 8-3, but the Mudcats answered again in the bottom of the inning. Rodriguez led off with a single and then came around to score on a two out single by Wolters. After a walk by Urshela, Aguilar drove a two run triple off the wall in right center pushing the lead to 11-3.
Tice's big night tacked on to his league leading RBI total as he improved his total to 43 on the year. Tice played in left field for only the second time this year and is expected to start playing out there more.
"We talked about [having him in left] in spring training. We were planning on playing him out there but he was hurt, but now he’s healthy and he’s going to be out there a little more often," said Rodriguez.
The Mudcats will look to build upon this game as they again take on the Blue Rocks at 7:15 on Wednesday at Five County Stadium.