Carolina opens second half with 5-1 loss
POTOMAC – Looking to improve on a disappointing first half of the season, the Carolina Mudcats returned to action after the All-Star break on Friday night, dropping the series opener to the Potomac Nationals 5-1.
Offensively, the Mudcats were led by center fielder Tyler Naquin who went 3-4, his 11th three hit game of the season and right fielder Jordan Smith who went 2-3, and hit his second home run of the season.
Left-handed starting pitcher Shawn Morimando looked to build on his strong first half in the first game of the second half of the season. Morimando pitched 5.1 innings, giving up five hits and four runs, three earned. He also struck out two, as well as walking two batters.
Naquin doubled to lead off the game, and advanced to third base on a groundout by second baseman Joey Wendle, but was not able to give the Mudcats a first inning lead, after being stranded there to end the inning.
Smith cracked his second home run of the season, a solo shot, in the second inning to give Carolina the early lead.
After breezing through the first three innings, Morimando ran into trouble in the fourth inning. A leadoff single and an error put runners on first and third with no outs. After a strikeout put one away, a wild pitch allowed Potomac to score their first run of the night. A strikeout and a fly out ended the inning and the threat.
Carolina struggled offensively all night. The team managed only six hits, and five of those were by Naquin and Smith. Only one player walked, catcher Tony Wolters in the eighth inning.
An easy fifth inning made it seem Morimando had settled back into a groove, but a rough sixth inning proved otherwise. With one out, a walk, double, and single allowed the Nationals to score the first run of the inning.
With runners on first and third, Morimando was lifted for left hander Francisco Jimenez. The first batter faced reached on a fielder’s choice, after first baseman Jerrud Sabourin got the out at home plate. A walk loaded the bases with two outs, and a hit batsman allowed another run to score. A single allowed a third run of the inning to score, but a groundout ended the inning.
Jimenez was lifted after the sixth inning for right hander Rob Nixon. Jimenez’ final line was two-thirds of an inning pitched, allowing only one hit and walking one batter, as well as hitting a batter. Both runs that scored off of Jimenez were charged to Morimando.
A single and an error put runners on first and third with no outs in the eighth inning. The next batter grounded into a double play, but Potomac was able to score on the outs to give them a four run lead.
For the first time since the second inning, Carolina was able to advance a runner past first base when shortstop Francisco Lindordoubled to lead-off the inning. Sabourin grounded out to advance Lindor to third base with two outs, but that is as far as he would get because designated hitter Bo Greenwell grounded out to first base to end the game.
Carolina looks to get their first win of the second half on Saturday as they continue the series against Potomac. Right hander Michael Peoples gets the start for the Mudcats. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35.
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.