Pelicans rally over Mudcats 5-4
Carolina blows win after leading early
ZEBULON – After taking an early lead, the Carolina Mudcats allowed the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to come back and take the lead before losing a heartbreaker 5-4 on Thursday night. The loss drops Carolina 2.5 games behind the Pelicans in the division race and allows the Salem Red Sox to climb with half a game for the final playoff spot.
Mudcats manager David Wallace was disappointed by the team’s performance.
“We just didn’t do the things we needed to do to win. On one side you look at it and we shouldn’t even have been in the game as many walks as we gave them, but we were right there at the end,” said Wallace. “We just didn’t make the plays we needed to make and we did throw the pitches we needed to throw.”
Both the Mudcats and Pelicans had command issues all night, walking a combined 17 batters on the night.
Mudcats manager David Wallace was very disappointed with the team’s pitching, walking eight batters.
Wallace said, “It was pretty ugly. They have a little more of an excuse with a knuckleballer, but for us that shouldn’t be an issue this late in the season. It’s something that has needs to change.”
Starting pitcher Shawn Morimando got the start for Carolina and pitched 5.1 strong innings allowing two runs on two hits. The left hander had trouble with his command, walking six batters after walking seven his last time out.
The Mudcats faced knuckleball pitcher Kevin Pucetas, making the likelihood for walks and wild pitches high, and the Mudcats saw this early.
Carolina was able to load the bases in the first inning thanks to walks to catcher Tony Wolters and second baseman Joey Wendle before center fielder Bryson Myles was hit by a pitch with two outs. However, the Mudcats were unable to score as designated hitter Alex Lavisky grounded out to end the inning.
Wallace acknowledged the difficulty to hit a knuckleball pitcher because of the unpredictable nature of the pitch.
“It’s tough because one time you see it and its up and the next time it can drop out of the zone. They don’t even really know where it’s going. It’s tough and that’s why if you can throw a good knuckler, you can pitch to pretty much anybody,” said Wallace.
The first hit for either team did not occur until the first Pelican to come to the plate laced a single into left field, but was thrown out at second base attempting to stretch a single into a double.
Lavisky reached on a two-out walk in the fourth inning and was the first Carolina base runner since the first inning. Shortstop Erik Gonzalez followed with the first Carolina hit of the night, putting runners on first and second. The Mudcats took a 2-0 lead on an RBI double by first baseman Jerrud Sabourin to put the first runs on the board. Left fielder Todd Hankins walked to put runners on first and second, but right fielder Logan Vick grounded out to end the inning.
Morimando ran into trouble in the fifth inning when he walked the first batter of the inning. With one out, Morimando struck out a batter on a wild pitch and the runner on first base attempted to take second base. Catcher Tony Wolters attempted to throw out the runner, but the throw glanced off the glove of Gonzalez who was covering the bag. The runner advanced to third base on the error with two outs. However, a fly out by the next batter ended the inning and the threat.
The Mudcats threatened again in the fifth inning after Wolters doubled to lead off the inning and third baseman Paddy Matera walked with one out. After Myles popped out for the second out in the inning, a wild pitch with Lavisky batting a passed ball allowed the runners to advance to second and third and a wild pitch allowed Wolters to score for a 3-0 lead. After Lavisky walked, the night was over for Pucetas.
Pucetas allowed three runs on three hits and six walks over 4.2 innings pitched.
Morimando ran into more trouble in the sixth inning after allowing a leadoff single and a walk with one out to put runners on first and second. That would be all for Morimando who was relieved by right-hander Benny Suarez.
Suarez had trouble with his command from the beginning as he walked the first batter he faced, but got the next batter to hit into a sacrifice fly to bring in the first Myrtle Beach run of the series. The very next batter crushed a double off the left-field wall to bring in two more runs that tied the game. A fly ball finally got the final out of the inning, but not before the damage was done.
Vick collected his first hit as a Mudcats player with a triple with two outs in the sixth inning. Wolters followed with a walk to bring up Wendle who struck out to end the inning.
Right-hander Josh Martin replaced Suarez in the seventh inning and allowed the Pelicans to take the lead on a two-out solo home run.
Matera walked to lead off the inning and Myles hit what was a surefire double play ball. However, the Myrtle Beach shortstop booted the ball and there was no possible play, as both runners were safe. A sacrifice fly by Gonzalez brought home Matera to tie the game at four. With Myles at second base, Sabourin struck out to end the inning.
With two outs in the eighth inning, a double to left field followed by a single to right field gave the Pelicans a one run lead. After allowing a second double to put runners at second and third, Matera made the corner to corner throw for the final out of the inning.
Martin went two innings giving up two runs on four hits. Right-hander Louis Head took over in the ninth inning, and after getting two quick outs, allowed back-to-back singles before getting a groundout to end the inning.
Carolina completes the series against Myrtle Beach on Friday night and looks to rebound from the tough loss. Right-hander Joe Colon will take the mound for the Mudcats. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
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.