Salem Red Sox walk off to 7-5 win
Mudcats fall to 2-7 in second half of season with tough loss
SALEM – For the second straight night, the Carolina Mudcats lost to the Salem Red Sox on a walk-off hit, 7-5 on Saturday night.
The loss drops the Mudcats’ record to 2-7 in the second half and 24-55 overall.
With two outs, right handed relief pitcher Louis Head walked a batter and gave up the walk-off home run to the next batter to end the game.
Right-hander Nick Pasquale got the start for Carolina, looking for his first win with the Mudcats in his ninth start of the season.
Pasquale pitched arguably his best game of the season for Carolina, as he went six innings and allowed only two runs on eight hits. Only one batter was walked by Pasquale to go along with three strikeouts. However this was not enough, as the bullpen allowed five runs over the final three innings.
For the second consecutive game, center fielder Tyler Naquin hit a lead-off double to begin the game. ShortstopFrancisco Lindor advanced Naquin to third base with a groundout, and second baseman Joey Wendle hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Naquin to give the Mudcats the early lead.
Salem’s opening frame was very similar to Carolina’s, as the inning was opened with a double, and a groundball advanced the runner to third base. A walk put runners on the corners with only one out, and a groundout allowed the Red Sox to tie the score at one. A single and a fly out ended the inning.
After a one-two-three inning by the Mudcats, Salem led off the second straight inning with a double, but three consecutive groundouts ended the inning without allowing the runner to score.
Carolina was able to put two runners on in third inning with two outs, as third baseman Zack MacPhee doubled to lead off the inning, and a walk by Wendle put runners on the corners, but the Mudcats were unable to score.
A single and a wild pitch allowed a Salem runner to reach second base, and an RBI single drove in the go-ahead run for the Red Sox in the third inning.
The offense really got going in the sixth inning for Carolina, as back-to-back singles by Lindor and Wendle, followed by an error to allow first baseman Jerrud Sabourin to reach, loaded the bases with no outs in the inning. Right fielder Jordan Smith followed with an RBI single to keep the bases loaded, and designated hitter followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to drive in the second run of the inning. Catcher Tony Wolters got in on the fun with an RBI single of his own to drive in the third run of the inning, still with only one out. Left fielder Bryson Myles walked to once again load the bases in the inning, but MacPhee hit into an inning ending double play to end the rally.
The three run sixth was enough to put the Salem bullpen to work in the seventh inning, and with two outs, Wendle put a pitch over the wall in left field for his ninth home run of the season, and his fourth in eight games to add to the Carolina lead.
Right hander Grant Sides took over for Pasquale in the seventh inning, and ran into trouble from the beginning. A single, walk and a double allowed the Red Sox to score once in the inning. A wild pitch by Sides allowed a second run to score, and the runner to advance to third base. With one out, Sides walked a second batter in the inning to put runners on the corners, and a sacrifice fly to left field was enough to bring in the tying run, but the damage was ended there as the next batter grounded into an inning ending double play.
The blown save was the 14th this season for the Mudcats in 24 chances. This ties Carolina with Frederick for the second most in the Carolina League.
It seemed as though Carolina would be able to regain the lead in the eighth inning after Smith walked to open the inning, and advanced to second on a ground out by Greenwell. A wild pitch moved Smith to third base and walked Wolters to put runners on the corners, but Myles grounded into an inning ending double play to end the threat.
Right hander Grant Sides was replaced in the eighth inning after a rough seventh. Sides’ final line was one inning pitched allowing three runs, all earned on two hits and two walks.
Head made his Carolina League debut in the eighth inning. With two outs, Head allowed a single, but was wiped away as Wolters threw him out as he was attempting to steal to end the inning. However, after giving up the walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, Head was handed the loss in his debut.
MacPhee led off the ninth inning with a walk, and moved to second base on a passed ball. With one out, Lindor walked, and Wendle was hit by a pitch to load the bases. However, Carolina was unable to score to regain the lead.
Carolina looks to avoid the sweep in Salem on Sunday afternoon. Right hander Cody Anderson gets the start for the Mudcats. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05.
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.