Mudcats, Hillcats split doubleheader
Loss eliminates Carolina from playoff contention
LYNCHBURG – After taking game one 7-4, the Carolina Mudcats dropped game two of a doubleheader against the Lynchburg Hillcats 3-2 in 12 innings on Thursday night.
Despite splitting the doubleheader with the Hillcats, the Mudcats were eliminated from playoff contention as Salem was victorious against Frederick to clinch the second half division title.
Carolina took game one by a score of 7-4, which was the make-up game of the second half of Wednesday’s scheduled doubleheader.
Starting pitcher Ryan Merritt took the mound for the Mudcats and provided a strong start, going four innings, and giving up four runs on five hits, in just his second start with the team.
Carolina kicked off the scoring in the second inning, when catcher Tony Wolters reached on an error and advanced all the way to third base after hitting a fly ball that was misplayed by the center fielder. Shortstop Erik Gonzalez brought Wolters home on a sacrifice fly to give the Mudcats the early lead.
The Mudcats added to the lead in the third inning, as left fielder Bryson Myles singled to lead-off the inning, and center fielder Jordan Smith brought him home on an RBI double. With two outs, Smith scored on Wolters RBI single to give Carolina the early three run lead.
Carolina tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning. Right fielder Logan Vick hit a lead-off single and with one out advanced to second base on second baseman Todd Hankins’ single. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Vick scored on a single by Myles. Still with one out, Smith got his second RBI of the game to bring home Hankins, making the score 5-0.
Lynchburg struck back in a big way in the bottom of the fourth, scoring four times to cut the lead to one. A single and a hit batsman put two on with two out and a three-run homer made the score 5-3, but the Hillcats were not done yet. Back-to-back doubles brought home another run to cut the lead to one after four innings.
Neither team scored again until Carolina scored twice in the top of the seventh inning. Designated hitter Joey Wendle walked to lead-off the inning, and back-to-back singles by third baseman Paddy Matera and Wolters loaded the bases with no outs. After a strikeout by Gonzalez, Vick hit into a groundout, scoring Wendle and advancing Matera and Wolters. An intentional walk to pinch hitter Jerrud Sabourin loaded the bases and a walk to Hankins scored Matera for the final margin.
Right-hander Francisco Valera and right-hander Benny Suarez combined to pitch three innings of one hit baseball. Valera picked up his third win of the season and Suarez pitched the seventh to nail down his first save with Carolina.
Carolina dropped game two of the doubleheader 3-2 in a game that went 12 innings.
Right-hander Nick Pasquale took the mound for the Mudcats and pitched six solid innings, giving up just two runs, both solo home runs, on seven hits. Pasquale also struck out five batters.
Myles, the designated hitter in game two, led off the game by smashing a solo home run over the left field wall to give the Mudcats the early advantage.
Pasquale gave up his first solo home run to lead off the bottom of the third inning, tying the game at one.
Carolina was able to retake the lead in the fifth inning. With two outs, Myles hit a single and Smith slapped an RBI triple into right field to score Myles, giving the Mudcats the one run advantage.
Lynchburg took the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning thanks to a two-out solo home run.
Right-hander Owen Dew replaced Pasquale in the seventh inning, pitching three scoreless innings, giving up only one hit.
Lynchburg manager Luis Salazar was ejected before the tenth inning began, which seemed to breathe new life into the team, allowing only three more base runners the rest of the way.
Right-hander JD Reichenbach entered the game in the tenth inning in relief of Dew and pitched two perfect innings before running into trouble in the 12th inning. After allowing a leadoff double, a walk put two on with no outs. After a pop-out got the first out of the inning, a groundout allowed the runner from second base to score the game winning run to end the game.
Carolina completes the season series against Lynchburg on Friday night. Right hander Robert Whitenack will make his final start of the season and first pitch is scheduled for 7:00 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.