ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (29-33) bounced back after losing both ends of a double header yesterday to take the final game of the series against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (32-30) 3-1.
Mike Rayl got the start for the Mudcats and turned in one of his better outings of the year, hurling five innings while giving up only one run and striking out five.
“Today was a nice bounce back game for us, we came in and had some fun out there. They let their abilities take over. Mike Rayl pitched a great game even without his best stuff” said manager Edwin Rodriguez.
The Mudcats were able to get just enough offensively as they faced a tough matchup against Pelican starter Kyle Hendricks who had a sub three era entering the game.
The Mudcats would take the early lead for a change in this series as they pushed across a run in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Center fielder Tyler Holt led off the inning with a single to right. Following a strikeout by shortstop Tony Wolters, right fielder Carlos Moncrief drove a single to right moving Holt to second. Holt then stole third with first baseman Jesus Aguilar batting and when Aguilar hit a slow roller to first, Holt was able to easily score, while Moncrief moved to second. Hendricks then got DH Jeremie Tice to fly out to left to end the inning.
Left fielder Anthony Gallas would tack on to the Mudcats lead as he drove a solo shot over the left field wall with one out in the second to push the lead to 2-0.
The Pelicans looked to get something going with two outs in the third. After Rayl got shortstop Odubel Herrera to ground into a double play Rayl allowed the next to batters to reach. Rayl walked second baseman Edwin Garcia then game up a single to center by right fielder Jared Hoying. However Rayl wiggled out of the jam as he struck out third baseman Christian Villanueva.
The Pelicans finally cracked the scoreboard on a sacrifice fly by DH Yefry Castillo in the fourth. The first two hitters reached as first baseman Brett Nicholas was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, then Catcher Tomas Telis singled to right. A sacrifice bunt by center fielder Jake Skole moved both runners over and then Castillo hit a fly ball to center that Nicholas was able to tag and come home on. Rayl got out of the inning as he induced a fly out by left fielder Teodoro Martinez to limit the damage.
The Mudcats looked to answer back in the bottom of the fourth as an error by Villanueva on a ground ball by Tice allowed Tice to reach with one in the inning. Second baseman Ronny Rodriguez then singled to left moving Tice up to second. Gallas grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The first two hitters for the Pelicans reached in the fifth, giving them a great scoring opportunity. Herrera led off the inning by being hit by a pitch and then Garcia drew a walk moving Herrera to second. Rayl induced a pop out by Hoying then a fly out to center by Villanueva and then got out of the inning as he induced a groundout by Nicholas.
Holt made it to third in the bottom of the fifth, but Wolters was unable to come up with a two out hit to drive the run. Third baseman Justin Toole singled to center with one out in the inning. Holt then grounded into a fielders choice as Toole was forced out at second. Holt stole second and w moved to third as Telis made a bad throw to second that sailed into center field. Hendricks struck out Wolters to keep the score a 2-1.
Jimmy Reyes came into replace Hendricks in the seventh and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced as Rodriguez drove a ball off the scoreboard in left to push the lead to 3-1.
The Pelicans wasted a lead off double in the eighth off Mudcat reliever Shawn Armstrong. Armstrong bounced back though as he struck out Nicholas and then with Telis batting, Villanueva was caught attempting to take third. Telis then flew out to left to end the inning.
The Mudcats bullpen held the Pelicans off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game as three pitcher combined to throw four innings of scoreless relief, led by Shawn Armstrong’s two scoreless innings lowering his era to 1.16. “They’ve been pretty consistent. Armstrong has been very good and so has Flores. The starting pitching just needs to keep us in the game and they did that today” said Rodriguez.
The Mudcats hit the road for the remainder of the first half of the season as they look to build momentum for a playoff push in the second half. The Mudcats will take on the Lynchburg Hillcats in a three game series starting Monday at 7:05.