Mudcats hold off Dash in 5-4 win
Carolina wins despite shaky ninth inning
WINSTON SALEM – The Carolina Mudcats jumped out to an early lead and were able to withstand a feverish rally in the bottom of the ninth for the 5-4 victory over the Winston-Salem Dash on Thursday night, their season-high fifth consecutive win. The victory puts Carolina’s record at 18-14 in the second half.
Leading 5-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, right hander Rob Nixon entered the ballgame to attempt to close out the victory, but ran into trouble after quickly getting the first out. A walk followed by a double to left field put runners on second and third to bring up the tying run. A three-pitch strikeout got the second out in the inning. A single to deep right field scored both runners from second and third to bring the Dash within one. A single to right field put the tying run in scoring position and the winning run on base. However, a groundout to second base ended the game without allowing the runners to score.
Right-hander Joseph Colon took the mound for Carolina and improved drastically over his last outing, also against the Winston-Salem Dash. After giving up five runs on 10 hits his last time out, Colon gave up on two runs, both earned, on six hits. Colon also walked two, but struck out four. The strong outing gave Colon a win, evening his record at 2-2.
Carolina jumped on the board early as center fielder Tyler Naquin singled and right fielder Jordan Smith walked to put two runners on with no outs to bring up second baseman Joey Wendle. After working the count full, Wendle reached on a swinging bunt thanks to a throwing error by Dash starting pitcher Myles Jaye. Naquin was able to score on the throw to put the Mudcats on the board. On the first pitch he saw, third baseman Paddy Matera hit a line drive over third base to bring in two more runs to give Carolina a three-run lead.
A leadoff single, followed by stealing second and third base put a Dash runner on third base with one out. An infield single brought home the runner to cut the Carolina lead to two. Another single put two runners on, and a double steal put runners on second and third with two outs. With two runners in scoring position, a strikeout ended the inning.
A leadoff double followed by a balk by Colon put a runner on third base with no outs in the bottom of the second inning, and a groundout brought home the second Dash run of the night to cut the Carolina lead to one.
Smith led off the third inning with an infield single, and with one out, Matera walked to put runners on first and second. Catcher Tony Wolters hit a ground ball to first base, who threw to second to get Matera out. The return throw was in time to get Wolters, but was called safe when as the pitcher was off the bag for the throw. Carolina newcomer Erik Gonzalez made Winston-Salem pay by hitting an RBI single to left field to score Smith from third base.
For the third straight inning, Colon gave up a leadoff double to Dash hitters. A walk put two on with no out. A force out put runners on the corners with two outs, but a groundout to second base ended the threat and the inning for the Dash.
With one out in the fifth inning, Wendle hit a flare into center field that fell in for a base hit. With no one covering second base, Wendle advanced to second base on a throwing error by the second baseman. Matera made the Dash pay for that miscue by hitting an RBI single to right field to score Wendle and push Carolina’s lead back to three. Gonzalez struck out with two out in the inning, but was able to reach base on the wild pitch he struck out on to put runners on the corners. This was enough to chase Jaye from the game. When the reliever entered the game, first baseman Jerrud Sabourin popped out to end the inning.
After replacing Colon to begin the sixth inning, right hander Francisco Valera went two-thirds of an inning, giving up two hits. Left hander JD Reichenbach relieved Valera and got the final out of the inning without allowing the runners to advance.
After easily getting the first two outs of the seventh, Reichenbach walked the next batter, and allowed a single to put two on. However, a strikeout got Reichenbach out of the jam. Reichenbach pitched one and one-third scoreless innings, allowing only the walk and single.
Making his second appearance after coming off the disabled list earlier in the week, left-hander Francisco Jimenez relieved Reichenbach in the eighth inning. Jimenez ran into trouble after walking one and allowing a single with one out, but was able to get out of the jam by getting the next two batters to pop out to end the inning.
The Winston-Salem bullpen shut down the Carolina offense, allowing only one base runner, a single by designated hitter Alex Lavisky in the sixth inning.
Carolina looks to extend their season-high win streak to six games on Friday night. Right-hander Nick Pasquale gets the start for Carolina for the 7:00 p.m. first pitch.
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.