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Carolina Mudcats lose to Lynchburg, 6-2

Carolina Mudcats lose to Lynchburg, 6-2
Photo credt: Tony Lastoria/IBI
August 28, 2014
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ZEBULON, N.C. — A pair of middle-inning homers buried the Carolina Mudcats Thursday as they fell to the Lynchburg Hillcats 6-2.   

Lynchburg finally got to Carolina starter D.J. Brown in the top of the fourth. Sean Godfrey led off with a base hit to left, before Jose Martinez gave the Hillcats a 2-0 lead, hammering a hanging breaking ball over the fence in left. Tyler Tewell then doubled to right and advanced to third on a Blake Brown single. Johan Camargo then extended the Lynchburg lead, plating Tewell with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 3-0.

But the Hillcats weren’t done with Brown, jumping on him again in the top of the fifth. With one away, Emerson Landoni earned a walk, setting the stage for Kevin Ahrens to put the Hillcats up 5-0 with a homer off the scoreboard in left.

Brown (3-8, 4.51) took the loss, allowing five earned runs on nine hits in 6.0 innings. The right-hander walked one and fanned three. 

Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker was happy with Brown early, but said he has to locate his off-speed pitches better: “He just left a couple bad pitches up, a change-up and a breaking ball, and they (Martinez and Ahrens) did some pretty good hitting.” 

Brown echoed his skipper’s sentiments.

“They were definitely two pitches I’d like to have back, but they capitalized on my mistakes so it’s one of those days where unfortunately we couldn’t get that win to keep up the playoff push.” 

This would be more than enough run support for Lynchburg starter Blair Walters, who breezed up and down the Mudcats lineup. Walters (6-1, 2.33) took the win, shutting out the Mudcats through 6.0 innings as the southpaw yielded just two hits and walked one.

Walters’ effort impressed Tucker, who felt his hitters were kept off-balance all evening.

“He was really good, he had some late movement and was deceptive.”  

The Hillcats added one more in the top of the seventh, as Ahrens drove in Eric Garcia with a single up the middle off Benny Suarez to put Lynchburg up 6-0. 

David Peterson kept the listless Carolina offense quiet, allowing just two hits in 2.0 shutout innings. 

But Carolina finally began to threaten with Mauricio Cabrera in the hill for Lynchburg in the bottom of the ninth. Cabrera walked Joe SeverEric Haase and Torsten boss, quickly forcing the Hillcats to pull Cabrera in favor ofNavery MooreLuigi Rodriguez then finally got the Muddies on the board, singling to right as Sever came in to make it 6-1.

James Roberts then sent a chopper to first, with Ahrens making a nice play to keep it front and go to second for the force, although Haase came in to score bringing the Mudcats within four at 6-2.

However, the late rally proved to be in vain as Moore retired Vick and Medina to end the contest.

Although the rally fell short, Tucker was pleased his team refused to accept the shutout.

“You’d certainly rather end on that note than taking a shutout. We ended up one batter from having the tying run up, so it has to help a little bit going forward.”

The Mudcats fall to 32-33 on the second half. Because Salem also lost Thursday, Carolina remains just a game behind the Red Sox for the Southern Division’s final playoff spot.

In the thick of the playoff race, both Tucker and Brown say they’ve seen the mood change around the Mudcats clubhouse.

“I’d say there’s been a playoff atmosphere for about a week now,” Tucker said. “Obviously the guys know where we are, but it comes down to winning you can’t lose your way there.”

“We’ve just got to come back tomorrow and try to get a win,” said Brown. “We all want to be in the playoffs.”

Carolina’s series with the Hillcats concludes Friday. Ryan Merritt (13-3, 2.62) will start for the Mudcats against fellow-southpaw Daniel Watts (2-4, 4.72). 

First pitch is set for 7:00 PM.

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