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Brown, Mudcats fall just short to Blue Rocks, 3-2

Carolina finished the first half of the 2014 season with a 29-38 record following loss.

Brown, Mudcats fall just short to Blue Rocks, 3-2
Carolina Mudcats starting pitcher D.J. Brown turned in a gem of a performance on Sunday against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Brown hurled 5 innings of one-hit baseball, while striking out 4 Blue Rock batters and walked none. (Photo credit: Tony Lastoria)
June 15, 2014
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WILMINGTON, DE — The Carolina Mudcats ended the first half of the season in losing fashion Sunday as they fell to the Wilmington Blue Rocks 3-2.

Carolina’s bullpen struggles continued as the Blue Rocks rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth to steal the finale of the four-game set.

The late collapse wasted another strong outing from a Mudcats starter as D.J. Brown gave Carolina 5.0 shutout innings. The right-hander allowed just one hit and didn’t issue a walk, while striking out four.

Brown departed the game with a 1-0 lead as the Mudcats managed to manufacture a run without a hit in the top of the fourth. Todd Hankins earned a walk to open the frame, and then stole second with Yhoxian Medina at the plate. A Medina groundout to second advanced Hankins to third for first baseman Joe Sever. Sever also grounded out, but Hankins was able to come home for the game’s first run.

That lone run was all Carolina could manage off Wilmington starter Glenn Sparkman. The right-hander went 5.0 innings and allowed just the one run on two hits earning a no decision.

The Mudcats doubled their lead in the top of the eighth off Blue Rocks reliever John WalterJames Roberts singled to right to begin the inning and got into scoring position thanks to a Ryan Battaglia sacrifice bunt. After a Todd Hankins fly out, Medina came through with the timely hit, a single to right plating Roberts as the Mudcats went up 2-0.

However, Wilmington’s bats finally came alive in the bottom of the inning as the Blue Rocks roughed up Carolina reliever Michael Peoples (3-7, 5.24). Daniel Rockett and Kenny Diekroeger opened the frame with a pair of singles before Logan Davis loaded the bases with a bunt single down the third base line.

Mark Donato then put the Blue Rocks on the board with a single up the middle to bring Wilmington within a run. The next batter, Bubba Starling, tied the game with a sacrifice fly to left. Hunter Dozier then doubled to right allowing Davis to score as Wilmington surged ahead to a 3-2 advantage.

Kyle Bartsch (4-3, 3.00) earned the win for the Blue Rocks despite not pitching a full inning. Wilmington turned to the southpaw to get out of a bases loaded jam with two outs in the top of the eighth, and he did. Bartsch forced Alex Monsalve to ground out ending the inning and minimizing the damage. He then got the first out of the ninth before a Luigi Rodriguez base hit ended his day.

Mark Peterson closed the door for Wilmington getting the last two outs of the ninth. He earned his thirteenth save of the year by striking out Roberts and forcing Battaglia to fly out as the Blue Rocks took three of four from the Mudcats in the final series of the first half.

Carolina finishes the first half of their 2014 campaign with a 29-38 record.

After the All-Star break, the Mudcats will return to Five County Stadium for a six-game home stand featuring three-game sets with the Frederick Keys and Myrtle Beach Pelicans.

The home stand begins Thursday as Carolina takes on Frederick. First pitch is set for 7:00 PM.

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