Carolina loses heartbreaker 10-9
Mudcats rally late but cannot overcome deficit and fall to Red Sox
SALEM – For the second straight night, the Carolina Mudcats allowed the Salem Red Sox to jump out to a big early lead, but rallied to eventually tie the game before finally losing a heartbreaker 10-9 on Tuesday night. The loss drops Carolina (29-27, 51-75) 2.5 games behind Salem for the final wildcard spot.
Carolina threatened for the final time in the ninth inning. Center fielder Logan Vick and right fielder Jordan Smith led off the inning with back-to-back walks, and both moved into scoring position when a wild pitch was thrown to second baseman Joey Wendle.
Wendle grounded out to bring home Vick to pull the Mudcats within one and advance Smith to third base. However, back-to-back strikeouts by third baseman Paddy Matera and left fielder Bryson Myles cut the rally short to end the game.
Starting pitcher Cole Cook took the mound for the Mudcats and struggled from the beginning, much like right-handerRobert Whitenack did the night before. Over two plus innings pitched, Cook gave up eight runs, only three earned, on six hits and four walks.
Carolina threatened in the first inning after Vick hit a leadoff double, and Wendle singled to put runners on the corners with just one out. However, Matera grounded into an inning-ending double play to end the threat.
The Red Sox jumped out in front in the bottom of the opening inning thanks to a leadoff double, sacrifice bunt, and an RBI groundout to score the first run of the game.
The Mudcats tied the game up in the second inning when designated hitter Tony Wolters walked with one out and shortstop Erik Gonzalez doubled down the left field line to put runners on second and third. Wolters scored on an RBI groundout by first baseman Jerrud Sabourin to tie the game at one.
Salem retook the lead in the bottom of the second inning by putting six runs on the board. After allowing a leadoff single, Cook gave up a two-run home run to allow the Red Sox to retake the lead. A single followed by a groundout put a runner on second base with two outs, and defensively the Mudcats fell apart.
An error allowed the runner to advance to third base, who then scored on a wild pitch thrown by Cook. A triple followed by a walk put runners on the corners, and an RBI triple scored both runners. Another walk again put runners on the corners, but this time neither runner could score as the next batter flew out to end the inning.
Carolina began a comeback in the third inning, when Smith doubled with one out, and scored on a single by Wendle, who advance to second on the throw home. With two outs, Myles smacked an RBI double to left field to score Wendle and cut the lead to five.
Cook was brought back out for the third inning, but was unable to record an out. Back-to-back walks put runners on first and second, and a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners. However, Cook misplayed the bunt, and the runner reached safely, loading the bases with no outs. That would be all for Cook, who was relieved by left hander JD Reichenbach.
Reichenbach struck out the first batter he faced, but allowed a sacrifice fly to bring the lead back to six. However a second strikeout ended the inning with minimal damage.
The fourth inning was Carolina’s time to shine, as they came back to tie the game. Gonzalez led off the inning with a single, and with one out, catcher Alex Lavisky was hit by a pitch. Gonzalez came around to score on an RBI single by Vick to cut the lead back to five. Smith grounded into a force out to put runners on the corners with two outs, and Wendle walked to load the bases. That would be all for Salem starting pitcher Mike Augliera.
Augliera went 3.2 innings and gave up seven runs, all earned on eight hits, two walks, and a hit batsman.
Matera came up with the big hit in the innings, hitting an RBI single to clear the bases, and bring Carolina to within one. With Matera at second base, consecutive wild pitches to Myles allowed Matera to rumble around the bases to score to tie the game at eight.
Carolina allowed Salem to take the lead right back in the bottom half of the fourth thanks to a walk followed by an RBI triple.
The Mudcats were able to load the bases again in the fifth inning as Lavisky singled and Vick and Smith followed with back-to-back walks, all with one out. However, after a Wendle strikeout, Matera popped out to end the inning without bring home the tying run.
Carolina threatened again in the sixth inning when Myles hit a lead-off double and Gonzalez followed with a one out single to put runners on the corners. However, a pitching change followed by back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning again without bringing home the tying run.
Right-hander Louis Head relieved Reichenbach in the sixth inning, and had a rough first inning. With runners on the corners and two outs, an RBI single extended the Salem lead to two.
Carolina returns home for the final homestand of the season on Wednesday for a doubleheader against the Lynchburg Hillcats. Both games will be seven innings, with game one set to begin at 5:00 p.m.
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.