Mudcats hold on for 8-7 win over Dash
ZEBULON – After taking a big early lead, the Carolina Mudcats gave up the lead in the top of the eighth, but rallied for the 8-7 win on Saturday night at Five County Stadium against the Winston Salem Dash.
The second straight win against the Dash brings Carolina’s record to 16-31. The Mudcats are undefeated against Winston Salem at home this season.
The Mudcats rallied in the eighth inning after giving up the lead in the top of the inning. Center fielder Tyler Naquin hit a single up the middle and advanced to second on a balk. Shortstop Francisco Lindor reached on a bunt single to put runners on the corners, and then stole second base, his 12th of the season, to put both runners in scoring position with no outs. Second baseman Joey Wendle flew out to shallow left field for the first out, but right fielder Jordan Smith walked to load the bases.
With the bases loaded, catcher Tony Wolters hit a ground ball to second base that forced Smith out at second, but the throw to first base was wild and two runs scored and allowed the Mudcats to regain the lead. Left fielder Bo Greenwell followed up with a single of his own to bring home Wolters and give Carolina a two-run lead.
Wolters was happy with the entire team’s performance on the night.
“I put the ball in play, Lindor hit the bunt, Naquin got on base and all that energy helps the whole team," Wolters said. "It helps us win the ball game and that’s what it’s all about."
“It was a case of teammates picking up teammates," Wallace said. "We booted it around defensively, Pasquale picked it up on the mound, then we got off on the mound, and then the offense really picked it up there at the end.
“Obviously Tony put a good hit on it there at the end, but I think what a lot of people won’t see in that is how hard Jordan (Smith) ran to break up that double play. That’s what you’ve got to do and it worked out for us tonight.”
Making just his third start of the season since being called up to Carolina, starting pitcher Nick Pasquale pitched six strong innings giving up just one run on two hits. Pasquale also struck out four and walked only two.
Pasquale was happy with how he pitched.
“I think I threw the ball well, kept it down in the zone," Pasquale said. "Wolters and I were on the same page and the defense made some big plays."
Wolters had nothing but positives to say about Pasquale’s performance.
“He threw the ball well, kept it down in the zone and just let it happen,” Wolters said.
Pasquale was helped out by some strong defense to open the game. After walking the first batter of the game and the second batter reaching on an error by Wendle, the infield defense picked it up a notch. A double play gave the Mudcats two outs and third baseman Yhoxian Median snagged a sharp groundball down the line and threw out the runner at first to end the inning.
Carolina got on the board first in the third inning. Lindor hit a double to deep left field and Wendle followed that up with an RBI triple over the center fielder’s head. Smith walked next to put runners on the corners still with no one out. Wolters hit a flare just past the shortstop into left field to bring home Wendle. Greenwell advanced the runners to second and third on a groundout and then designated hitter Charlie Valerio brought home the third run of the inning for the Mudcats on a groundout.
The Dash got on the board in the fourth inning after Pasquale hit the first batter of the inning and advancing the runner on a wild pitch. A groundout put a runner on third with one out and a groundout to second base scored the run. A perfectly timed jump by Lindor pulled a line drive out of the air to end the inning.
Throughout the game the Mudcats stranded several baserunners.
"We have to get runs out of those situations," Wallace said. "We’ll get it done. We’re not going to let that get us down.”
First baseman Joe Sever doubled to start the sixth inning for the Mudcats and was sacrificed to third on a bunt by Medina. Sever scored on an RBI single by Naquin right up the middle and then three straight walks later and the Mudcats had another run and pushed their lead to four.
Right hander Grant Sides struggled with his command in the eighth inning. After two walks and a passed ball runners were on the corners before he served up a three-run home run to the very next batter to cut the lead to one.
The trouble continued after left hander JD Reichenbach came on in relief. The first batter Reichenbach faced hit a grounder to second base and Wendle made a nice sliding play to stop the ball; however, his throw was wild and the runner advanced to second on the error. A walk put two on still with only one out, and a double brought home the tying run. With runners on second and third a sacrifice fly to right field brought home the go-ahead run.
Once the rally was halted on a strikeout, ten batters had been to the plate in the eighth inning and a five-run deficit turned into a one-run lead for the Dash.
Wallace is not that worried about how Sides pitched.
“He’s struggling out there right now, but he’ll get it together," Wallace said. "We have faith in Grant. That’s part of being out here in the minor leagues. He needs to work it out on the mound.”
Carolina looks to complete the sweep against Winston Salem on Sunday. Right hander Cody Anderson will attempt to add to his Carolina League leading five wins as he gets the start for the Mudcats. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00.
NOTES: Lindor extended his on-base streak to 30 consecutive games with his single in the first inning. His two hits on the night also extended his Carolina League lead to 57… Tony Wolters threw out his first base runner as a catcher to end the third inning… Wolters also extended his hitting streak to six games since coming back to Carolina.
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.