ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (20-18) shutout the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (22-16) behind an oustanding pitching performance from starter Mike Rayl 5-0 on Wednesday night.
After a 29 minute rain delay, Rayl came out and was dominant, as he did not give up a hit until there was one out in the fifth. He wound up going seven scoreless innings, surrendering four hits and striking out two.
“I think that was Mike Rayl’s best outing this season. He was throwing his breaking ball for strikes and that allowed his fastball to be harder to hit” said manager Edwin Rodriguez.
The offense, led by shortstop Ronny Rodriguez and DH Todd Hankins, both of whom had two RBI’s on the night, scored early and gave Rayl plenty of runs to work with.
An error by Pelican shortstop Hanser Alberto in the bottom of the third with the Mudcats already ahead 2-0 changed the complexion of the game. With two on and one out Pelican starter Randol Rojas got first baseman Jesus Aguilar to ground to short, a ball that was set up perfectly for an inning ending double play. However Alberto made an errant flip to second allowing the Mudcats to load up the bases. Back to back hits following the error would allow three runs to come in to score giving the Mudcats a dominant 5-0 lead.
“That was huge to take advantage of the error, we were able to score three runs after that play. I’ve been on the other side of that play many times and it’s what good teams do take advantage of what other teams give you” said Edwin Rodriguez.
The Mudcats struck for their first run in the second as they jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. After a one out walk to Rodriguez, Hankins came to the plate. Hankins, who had just been called up from Lake Country, was making his first appearance in High A. He made the most of his debut as he drilled a ball over the left field wall.
Following the error by Alberto in the third that loaded up the bases, Right fielder Carlos Moncrief would drive a ball to right easily scoring the third Mudcats run of the night. Rodriguez would then come up and smack a double to center to push across two more to extend the lead to five. For Rojas he was charged with two earned runs in the inning as the double play couldn’t be assumed, but it was obvious that with Aguilar running it should have been a routine play.
The Pelicans put together their first threat of the game in the fifth off Rayl. Rayl who had held the Pelicans hitless through the first four would surrender a one out double to Garcia. Following a groundout, right fielder Jeremy Williams reached on an infield single, putting runners on the corners with two outs for third baseman Santiago Chirino. Chirino hit a soft fly ball to right that Greenwell was able to track down to end the inning as the Mudcats preserved their five run lead.
The Pelicans loaded the bases up in the ninth with two outs off reliever Grant Sides. However Sides, who walked two in the inning, struck out Chirino to end the game and preserve the shutout.
Reliever Kyle Blair also turned in an inning of relief as he pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two.
The Mudcats will look to continue to hold the Pelicans bats in check as they look for the sweep on Thursday as the they face off at 7:15 at Five County Stadium.