Mudcats pitching serves up four homers in 10-3 loss
ZEBULON – Coming off a double header sweep of the Salem Sox on Thursday, the Carolina Mudcats returned to Five County Stadium on Friday night to face off against the Lynchburg Hillcats looking to extend the winning streak to three games.
With the stars of Lizard Lick Towing in attendance, the Mudcats were not able to do that however, falling to the Hillcats by a final score of 10-3.
On the night, Mudcats pitchers surrendered four home runs, the most in one game surrendered by the Mudcats in their history as an Indians farm team.
Mudcats manager David Wallace didn’t think those four home runs were the reason the Mudcats lost.
“Not to take any credit away from them, but I thought we beat ourselves early with a couple of defensive mistakes, throwing errors, and poor base running decisions," Wallace said.
After having no problem with the first two batters of the game, Mudcats starting pitcher Jacob Lee gave up a solo home run to Lynchburg first baseman William Beckwith, before retiring the next batter to end the inning.
With runners on first and second with one out in the third inning, the Hillcats attempted a double steal that was successful. However, Mudcats catcher Charlie Valerio’s throw to third base skidded into left field. The error allowed a run to score and the other runner to third base.
After a walk put runners on the corners still with only one out, Lee threw a wild pitch that allowed the runner on first to attempt to take second base. However, Valerio committed another throwing error as this time the ball was sent into center field allowing both runners to advance and the Hillcats to score another run.
Wallace saw these two throwing errors as a problem, but not for the long term.
“They were somewhat physical mistakes, but I thought they were more mental mistakes trying to force something that wasn’t there," Wallace said.
After a foul pop-out down the third base line, Lee gave up an RBI single to allow the Hillcats to take a four run lead going into the bottom of the third inning.
The Mudcats got things going offensively in the third inning. Third baseman Yhoxian Medina hit a ground ball to second base, but the throw skipped past the bag and he reached on the error. Center fielder Tyler Naquin singled next, followed by a single by shortstop Francisco Lindor to load the bases.
First baseman Jerrud Sabourin flew out to right field for the first out of the inning. Right fielder Jordan Smith then hit a two-RBI single past second base to score the Mudcats first two runs of the night. Valerio walked to once again load the bases, this time for left fielder Luigi Rodriguez, who hit a ground ball to first base for the second out of the inning, but another run scored to pull the Mudcats within one at the end of the inning.
Smith has had a monster couple of days. Counting the doubleheader on Thursday, he has six hits and three RBI’s.
“We knew he was going to hit when he was batting .100," Wallace said. "It was just a matter of time. He’s made a couple of little adjustments, but it’s no surprise.”
Smith is not giving himself all the credit.
“I’m just swinging at the strikes," Smith said. "Get my pitch and swing at it. Personally, its really a team game. I’m just focusing on driving in runs and to try to win games."
After a rough third inning, Lee breezed through the fourth inning, retiring the side in order.
Designated hitter Zach MacPhee walked to start the fourth inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. A ground out advanced MacPhee to third, but two more ground outs stranded the tying run at third to end the inning.
The fifth inning had some great defensive plays to save hits. Smith made a running, leaping, over the shoulder catch in deep right field that was a sure-fire double. With a runner on first and two outs, a slow roller was hit down the first base line. Valerio rushed to the ball and barehanded it to get the runner at first base to end the inning.
Sabourin started the fifth inning with a double to left field. Sabourin advanced to third on a single by Smith, but Smith was thrown out at second trying to advance on the throw home from the outfield. Valerio grounded out to the pitcher for the second out and Rodriguez struck out to strand the runner at third base for the second consecutive inning.
Lee gave up his second two-out home run of the night in the sixth inning, this time a two-run shot, to give the Hillcats a 6-3 lead.
Left hander Francisco Jimenez replaced Lee right after the home run in the sixth inning. Lee’s final line of the night was 5.2 innings pitched, six hits and six runs.
After a scoreless seventh inning by both teams, Jimenez surrendered the third home run of the night by the Hillcats for a five run deficit. This two-run shot was crushed and hit the top of the scoreboard in left field.
Beckwith hit his second home run of the night for the Hillcats to stretch the lead to 10-3 in the ninth inning.
The Mudcats continue the series against Hillcats on Saturday night. Left hander Elvis Araujo will get his second start of the season for the 6:15 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.