Mudcats withstand late Red Sox rally, win 7-5
Carolina (13) and Salem (12) cranked out 25 hits combined in Sunday's outing.
SALEM, NC – After holding the lead from the beginning, the Carolina Mudcats withstood a furious ninth-inning rally from the Salem Red Sox to hold on for a 7-5 win on Sunday.
With the Mudcats leading 7-2 headed into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Red Sox were able to plate three to come within two runs with only one out. However, right-hander Rob Nixon was able to come in and get a game ending double play, and picked up his first save of the season.
Left-hander Ryan Merritt (5.0, 1.43) looked to continue his dominant start to the season as he took the mound for the Mudcats on Sunday afternoon.
That is exactly what Merritt did, allowing just two runs, one earned, on eight hits over 6.2 innings. On the afternoon, Merritt struck out four and did not walk a single batter.
The lefty picked up the win for his efforts, and improved to 5-0 on the season. With the win, Merritt is the first Carolina League pitcher to reach five wins in 2014.
Left fielder Anthony Gallas reached base in his first four plate appearances to make it eight consecutive trips to the plate that ended with him on base. Over the course of the streak, he recorded four doubles, two singles and two walks.
The Mudcats jumped on the board early by scoring twice in both of the opening innings to take a 4-0 lead.
In the top of the first, center fielder Logan Vick hit a one-out double, and advanced to third on a single by shortstopErik Gonzalez. With the bases loaded, thanks to a walk by Gallas, first baseman Jerrud Sabourin laced a two-out double to center field to score Vick and Gonzalez for the early two-run lead.
Merritt allowed two singles in the first inning, but was able to keep Salem off the board early.
After holding the Red Sox scoreless in the bottom of the opening inning, the Mudcats went right back to work at the plate. Third baseman James Roberts singled and advanced to second on a throwing error that also allowed second baseman Yhoxian Medina to reach base safely. An errant pick-off attempt allowed both runners to advance a base putting both in scoring position with right fielder Luigi Rodriguez at the plate.
Roberts was able to score on a RBI groundout by Rodriguez that also allowed Medina to advance to third. With only one out, Vick brought Medina home with a sacrifice fly to deep center field to give Carolina a four-run lead.
The Mudcats were able to once again load the bases with two outs in the third inning, but were unable to score as Medina flew out to end the inning.
The Red Sox were able to push their first run across in the bottom of the fourth inning. After loading the bases on three singles, a RBI groundout with one out scored the first run, but Merritt struck out the final batter of the inning to keep the damage to a minimum.
A leadoff double by Red Sox catcher Leonel Escobar proved costly in the fifth inning. After advancing to third on a groundout, Escobar raced home to score on a throwing error by Roberts to cut the lead to 4-2, but that would be all Salem could manage in the inning.
After a Salem pitching change, Carolina jumped on the reliever, with Roberts being issued a leadoff walk, and Medina following with a double. Rodriguez sacrificed both runners over with a bunt for the first out. Vick hit a sacrifice fly to left field, but Roberts was unable to score after being thrown out at home on a terrific throw to end the inning.
Carolina was able to load the bases for a third time in the game in the seventh inning, this time with two outs. Gallas doubled, while Sabourin and designated hitter Torsten Boss walked to load them up with James Roberts at the plate. Roberts flew out to end the inning without bringing any of the runners in to score.
Despite issuing back-to-back walks to lead off the eighth inning, right-hander Josh Martin retired the next three batters, two on strikeouts, to escape the inning.
The Mudcats exploded offensively in the ninth inning, scoring three times. After Gonzalez led off the inning with a triple, catcher Jeremy Lucas brought him home with a RBI triple. After Gallas’ on base streak ended with a strikeout, Sabourin singled, and a wild pitch advanced both runners to scoring position. A two-run double gave the Mudcats a five-run lead.
After a pitching change, a walk and single loaded the bases for the fourth time, but Carolina was once again unable to bring a runner home to end the inning.
Left-hander Elvis Araujo took the mound to close out the game in the ninth inning, but had a rough outing. Araujo surrendered three runs, while getting just one batter out. Araujo allowed all six batters he faced to reach base before Nixon came in to slam the door on the Red Sox.
Carolina returns home on Monday to begin a seven-game home stand with a three-game set against Lynchburg before Salem comes to town for four games. Right-hander Cole Sulser takes the mound for the Mudcats on Monday.
Daniel is a communication and broadcast media major at North Carolina State University.