Carolina comes up short as Red Sox win 6-5
Playoff hopes on the line as Mudcats drop second straight
ZEBULON – Coming off a heartbreaking extra inning loss on Saturday night, the game did not start off any better on Sunday, quickly falling behind by four. After rallying to take a one run lead, the Mudcats gave up a run in the ninth inning to fall to the Salem Red Sox 6-5 on Sunday afternoon.
The loss drops Carolina five games behind Salem for first place in the division with eight games to play.
Mudcats manager David Wallace still sees a bright spot, despite dropping two straight games the team needed to win.
“We’re not out of it yet, but we haven’t helped ourselves these last two games,” said Wallace. “It’s a must win for us tomorrow night.”
After getting two quick outs in the top of the ninth inning, three straight singles allowed the Red Sox to score and take a one run lead that proved to be the winning run.
Wallace said it was a tough way to lose a hard fought game.
“It was a tough way to lose it. I think the game kind of speaks for itself” said Wallace.
Right hander Cole Cook took the mound for Carolina and labored through two plus innings, giving up four runs, on six hits, three home runs, and two walks.
Cook struggled mightily from the beginning, giving up a leadoff home run to put Carolina in an early hole, and Salem was not done. A walk to the next batter followed by a single put runners on first and second, still with no outs.
A ground ball to first base got the force out at second base, but a wild throw by shortstop Erik Gonzalez allowed a second run to score in the inning, before back-to-back fly balls ended the inning.
With two outs in the Carolina half of the first inning, second baseman Joey Wendle ripped a triple into left field, but was stranded there as third baseman Paddy Matera flew out to center field to end the inning.
Cook’s struggles continued in the second inning, giving up a leadoff home run to match the one he gave up to open the game. With one out, a walk and a single put two on, and after getting the second out, a wild pitch allowed the runner on second base to race to third. Both runners were stranded though as a groundout ended the inning.
Catcher Tony Wolters reached to lead off the inning on a throwing error. The inning ended on a strikeout-throw out play as first baseman Jerrud Sabourin struck out and Wolters was thrown out attempting to steal second base.
For the third consecutive inning, Cook allowed a home run to lead off the inning. After giving up a single to the next batter, that would be all for Cook.
Cook was relieved by right hander Owen Dew, who shut down the Red Sox over three innings, giving up just two hits.
The stars of the day were the Mudcats bullpen, combining to pitch seven innings giving up only two runs on nine hits.
Wallace was very proud of how well the bullpen pitched when it seemed the game was getting away from the team early.
“They did a nice job and kept us in the game. Those guys are the reason we had a chance to win. I’m proud of them” said Wallace.
Carolina finally threatened in the fourth inning when Wendle walked to lead off the inning and Matera ripped a double down the third base line to put two on with nobody out. Wolters followed with a walk to load the bases. Gonzalez made Salem pay by slapping an RBI single right up the middle to score Wendle from third base and keep the bases loaded, still with no outs.
Sabourin came up to bat next, and was hit by a pitch to push in a run. Designated hitter Alex Lavisky hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Wolters with one out to cut the lead to one. Right fielder Logan Vick was walked to load the bases again to bring up left fielder Bryson Myles who hit a sacrifice fly to score Gonzalez to tie the game at four.
That would be all for Salem starter Heri Quevedo, who pitched 3.2 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, three walks and a hit batsman. Center fielder Jordan Smith popped out to end the inning after the reliever came in to end the inning.
After a four run fourth inning that tied the game, Wendle led off the fifth inning with a solo home run to give the Mudcats their first lead of the game.
Right hander Rob Nixon came on in relief of Dew in the sixth inning. A leadoff double, followed by a groundout put a runner on third with one out. An RBI single tied the game again.
Right hander Louis Head relieved Nixon in the eighth inning and pitched a perfect inning to keep the game tied.
The Mudcats threatened in the eighth inning when Matera walked to lead off the inning, and was then lifted for pinch runner Todd Hankins. Wolters sacrificed Hankins to second base, and then Gonzalez grounded out to advance him to third with two outs. However, Sabourin struck out to strand Hankins at third base.
Carolina faces Salem for the last time in 2013 in the home finale. Left hander Shawn Morimando gets the start for the Mudcats as first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
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.