Carolina Mudcats fall in close game against Lynchburg Hillcats
LYNCHBURG, Va. — Despite holding a lead for much of Thursday’s contest, the Carolina Mudcats (17-11, 46-49) fell to the Lynchburg Hillcats (12-15, 46-51) by a 2-1 score.
Lynchburg rallied late to overcome an early lead Carolina grabbed in the top of the second. Mudcats backstop Alex Monsalvereached with a one-out single on a grounder up the middle, then took second on Hillcats starter Cody Scarpetta’s wild pitch.James Roberts immediately made the right-hander pay, drawing first blood for the Mudcats with an RBI single to center as Monsalve scored standing up.
This would be Carolina’s lone run off Scarpetta, who went 6.0 innings allowing the one earned run five hits. He walked one and struck out six on his way to a no decision.
Despite being by the slimmest of margins, Carolina’s one-run lead held for much of the game thanks to a commanding start from Adam Plutko. The former College World Series MVP dazzled the Hillcats lineup through 6.0 shutout innings. Plutko allowed four hits, accounting for Lynchburg’s only base runners off the right-hander who didn’t issue a walk while striking out five.
But Plutko was forced to settle for no decision as Lynchburg finally plated a run in the bottom of the seventh. Trouble was brewing quickly for new pitcher Ben Heller, as the leadoff man, Ahrens, reached scoring position on Yandy Diaz’s two-base throwing error. Bloxom followed with a grounder to second, allowing the tying run to advance to third. Emerson Landoni then tied the game as his base hit to center brought in Ahrens to make it 1-1.
While the Carolina offense continued to be held in check, manager Scooter Tucker turned to Benny Suarez (1-3, 4.50) to get the Mudcats through the bottom of the ninth and into extra innings. However, Ahrens quickly made Suarez’s task much more difficult as his leadoff double off the wall in left put the winning run in scoring position with all three outs to work with. But the Hillcats wouldn’t waste any time completing the comeback as the next batter, Bloxom, sent a two-bagger of his own to center as Lynchburg evened the series at a game apiece.
By virtue of his scoreless top of the ninth, Cody Fassold (1-0, 0.00) earned the win in his Lynchburg debut. The righty allowed a hit and struck out two, with Roberts’s two-out single accounting for the only Mudcats base runner in the ninth.
With the loss, the Mudcats fall to 13-15 on the year in games decided by a single run and 25-28 in games decided by two runs or less.
Carolina will try again for the series win in Friday’s rubber match with the Hillcats. Right-hander Cole Sulser (3-8, 5.09) is scheduled to start for the Mudcats while Lynchburg will counter with lefty Daniel Watts (1-2, 4.94).
First pitch from Calvin Falwell Field is set for 7:05 p.m.