Plutko, Mudcats fall to Pelicans, 5-1
Carolina's bats managed just 5 hits in the loss on Friday.
ZEBULON, NC — An early deficit proved too much for the Carolina Mudcats to overcome Friday as they fell to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans 5-1 at Five County Stadium.
The Mudcats found themselves in a hole early as Myrtle Beach took the lead against Carolina starter Adam Plutko in the top of the first. With two away and men on the corners, Nick Williamsput the Pelicans ahead with a double to right as Chris Garia scored easily. Myrtle Beach grabbed another on the play thanks to Yhoxian Medina’s error attempting to tag Williams at second as the ball escaped into centerfield allowing Preston Beck to put the Pelicans up 2-0.
Myrtle Beach then added to their advantage in the top of the third. After a pair of singles from Beck and Royce Bolinger put Pelicans on the corners with no outs, Williams again came through for Myrtle Beach as his grounder to short allowed Beck to come in and make it 3-0.
Plutko then found himself in another jam in the top of the fourth. After a four-pitch walk to Edwin Garcia, singles from Luis Mendez and Garia loaded the bases with nobody out. Bostick’s fly out to right then appeared deep enough for Garcia to tag and score, but a strong throw from Logan Vick gunned down the Pelicans shortstop at the dish for out number two. Plutko then forced Beck to line out, as the right-hander escaped the conundrum with the score still 3-0.
The masterful escape would be Plutko’s (3-7, 4.63) final contribution to the contest, as he was pulled after 4.0 innings. He took the loss allowing three runs, two of them earned, on seven hits while walking three and striking out five.
It was enough to earn Plutko a quality start statistically, but he was quick to brush aside an individual accomplishment.
“Your goal is always to keep the team in the game and give them a chance to get the win,” said Plutko. “A quality start is great for your individual stats but the goal is to get the team a win even if it’s giving up six runs and winning 7-6.”
Myrtle Beach also elected to go to their bullpen in the fifth, meaning starter Sam Wolff wasn’t eligible for the win. However, Wolff cruised through the Carolina offense going 4.0 scoreless innings allowing just three hits and no walks while fanning one.
Carolina finally found an offensive breakthrough off reliever Justin Sprenger in the bottom of the sixth. A pitch hit Yandy Diaz before Jerrud Sabourin singled to right. Jeremy Lucas then went down on strikes for the first out, but Joe Sever followed with a walk to load the bases. Todd Hankins then got the Mudcats on the board with a grounder up the middle that allowed Diaz to score, as Myrtle Beach couldn’t turn an inning-ending double play. With Alex Monsalve batting, Hankins stole second to put a pair in scoring position, but Sprenger buckled down fanning Monsalve to escape the inning with the Pelicans still up 3-1.
Within two would be as close as Carolina managed to get. With a man on second and one away against Mudcats reliever Benny Suarez in the top of the eighth, Lewis Brinson sent his third homer of the year just over the fence in left as the Pelicans extended their advantage to 5-1.
Carolina managed just five hits in Friday’s contest, with fatigue potentially playing a role, as the Mudcats didn’t return home from Frederick until 4:30 AM Friday morning.
Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker knew bouncing back Friday night was going to be a tall order for his club.
“After a late or early night depending on how you look at it, today was always going to be a tough grind,” said Tucker. “These guys are still learning to deal with stuff like that and hopefully they bounce back tomorrow.”
As the Mudcats find themselves in the thick of the playoff race, still just a half game behind Winston-Salem for the final postseason spot, the desire to extend the season is evident around the Carolina clubhouse.
“We’ve got to pick it up just a little, we all really went to make the playoffs,” declared Plutko.
“It’s been a long year, but it makes it fun coming out to the field everyday when you’re in the playoff hunt,” said Vick. “We’ve all just got to find that extra oomph,” added the Mudcats right fielder.
The Mudcats are now 23-24 for the second half.
First pitch is set for 6 PM.