Mudcats open homestand with 9-5 win
Pasquale, Myles lead Carolina to victory
ZEBULON – In the first game of a six-game homestand, the Carolina Mudcats broke a close game open late and defeated the Frederick Keys 9-5 on Thursday night at Five County Stadium. Carolina improved to 22-16 in the second half with the victory.
With the win, the Mudcats moved ½ game out of first place.
Mudcats manager David Wallace was very happy with the team’s performance, saying it was a complete victory.
Wallace said, “Nick (Pasquale) went out there and set the tone for us early. We got timely hitting after pitching well and really just playing well.”
Starting pitcher Nick Pasquale took the mound for Carolina and looked to extend his personal win streak to three games. The right hander was red-hot from the beginning, retiring the first eight batters he faced. Pasquale was able to continue his recent hot streak, giving up three run on six hits over six innings. Pasquale also struck out five Keys and walked none. The strong outing got Pasquale the win, raising his record to 4-6 with Carolina.
Pasquale was very happy with his performance saying he has been pitching much more consistently as of late.
Pasquale said, “I’m just going out there and trying to get people out. I’ve been more consistent lately, and that’s really improved my play lately.”
Left fielder Bryson Myles extended his season-long hitting streak to 14 games with a double off the center-field wall to lead off the game and advanced to third base on an infield single by center fielder Jordan Smith. Smith hit a ground ball to the shortstop who threw wild to first base. Smith attempted to advance to second base, but was thrown out. A sacrifice fly by second baseman Joey Wendle scored Myles to give Carolina the early lead.
While not a natural leadoff hitter, Myles batted leadoff with center fielder Tyler Naquin out of the lineup with an elbow injury. Myles said he’s just trying to do whatever it takes to help the team win.
“I’m feeling great right now and trying to stay consistent. I’ve put in a lot of work and I’m trying to show it in the field” said Myles.
Wallace has seen some definite improvement with Myles play as of late, saying he’s playing the best baseball of his career.
“He’s playing the best baseball I’ve seen him play in the three years I’ve had him. The more I watch him play, the more I’m thinking he’s a middle of the lineup hitter. It’s good to see him playing the way he has lately,” said Wallace.
Pasquale allowed his first base runner with two outs in the third innings thanks to a single up the middle. However, catcher Tony Wolters threw him out attempting to steal second base to end the inning.
Carolina was able to tack on a second run in the third inning after first baseman Charlie Valerio singled to lead off the inning and third baseman Justin Toole followed with a double to down the third base line to put runners on second and third with no outs. Myles followed with a sacrifice fly to bring home Valerio.
Designated hitter Paddy Matera walked to lead off the fourth inning and advanced to second base on an error by the shortstop. Wolters hit a groundball to the pitcher, who threw to second base attempting to turn a double play. The ball kicked off the shortstop’s glove to allow Matera in safely. Wolters reached base on a fielder’s choice. With one out, right fielder Bo Greenwell hit a grounder to the shortstop. Wolters was out at second, but Greenwell reached safely as the shortstop lost the ball attempting the throw to first base. Valerio grounded out to second base to end the inning without a run scoring.
Pasquale ran into trouble in the fifth inning after allowing a single and a double to put runners on second and third with one out. An RBI double brought home both runners to tie the game at two. After striking out the next batter, an RBI double brought home a third run to allow Frederick to take the lead for the first time in the game.
Carolina faced a new pitcher in the fifth inning after chasing Frederick starting pitcher Trent Howard after four innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
Carolina was able to load the bases in the sixth inning with no outs and without getting a hit. Wendle walked on four pitches, Matera was hit for the team leading 12th time this season, and Wolters walked to load the bases. Shortstop Erik Gonzalez hit a groundball to second base to drive in Wendle. Matera advanced to third and Gonzalez was safe, but Wolters was out at second base. Greenwell cleared the bases with an RBI triple to right-center to give the Mudcats the lead. Greenwell wasn’t on third for long as the very next pitch was wild and allowed him to score to give Carolina a three-run lead.
Right hander Francisco Valera replaced Pasquale in the seventh inning and pitched two perfect innings before giving way to left hander JD Reichenbach.
Myles and Smith led off the seventh inning with back-to-back singles. With Wendle batting, still with no outs, Myles and Smith attempted a double steal to second and third. However, the pitcher attempted to throw Myles out at third base and skipped the ball past the third baseman, allowing Myles to score and Smith to third base. Wendle followed with an RBI single to chase the Frederick reliever after two plus innings pitched, giving up six runs on four hits to go along with two walks and two strikeouts.
Carolina kept the offense rolling against the new Frederick pitcher, with Wendle advancing to second on a groundout by Matera. After Wolters struck out for the second out of the inning, Gonzalez followed with an RBI single up the middle to score Wendle.
Reichenbach loaded the bases in ninth inning and gave up two runs before closing out the game.
Carolina continues the series against Frederick on Friday night. Right-hander Cole Cook is scheduled to take the mound for the 7:15 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.