Mudcats sock the Rocks, 5-3
ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (23-27) took two in a row against the Wilmington Blue Rocks (24-26) with a 5-3 win on Wednesday.
Behind a strong pitching performance from Francisco Jimenez the Mudcats were able to keep the Blue Rocks bats at bay for the majority of the night. Jimenez had given up 10 runs in his last 10 innings pitched, but threw a solid six innings Wednesday giving up only one run on seven hits while striking out four.
“[Jimenez] was throwing the fastball for strikes and his secondary pitches were working and that’s a big reason why he had a really good game. He was really efficient with all of his pitches” said Manager Edwin Rodriguez.
The Mudcats took an early 2-0 lead after scoring one run in both the second and third innings and would never look back as they never trailed in the game. The Blue Rocks looked to rally in the eighth of Mudcat reliever J.D Reichenbach but it fell short as the Mudcat bullpen was able to hang on.
Right fielder Carlos Moncrief drove in the first run of the game in the bottom of the second off Blue Rock starter Jason Adams. First baseman Jesus Aguilar reached on an infield single. Aguilar moved to second with the help of an error by third baseman Angel Franco on a grounder hit to him by Jeremie Tice that he was unable to handle. Moncrief hit a single to right scoring Aguilar as Tice was thrown out trying to go first to third. The Mudcats only got one run as catcher Jake Lowery and second baseman Ronny Rodriguez both flew out to left to end the inning.
The Mudcats again saw their first two hitters reach in the third and pushed across a run. Designated hitter Delvi Cid led off the inning with a single to left and hen center fielder Tyler Holt walked. Following a strikeout by shortstop Tony Wolters, third baseman Giovanny Urshela blopped a single into right easily scoring Cid as Holt moved to third. The throw from the outfield went to third and Urshela tried to move up to second on the throw but the relay from third baseman Angel Franco to second easily cut down Urshela for the second out of the inning. Aguilar grounded out to short to end the inning, but the Mudcats had a 2-0 lead at the end of three innings.
The Blue Rocks struck for their first run in the fifth to cut the deficit to 2-1. Left fielder Roman Hernandez led off the inning with a single and then he moved up on a bunt by right fielder Geulin Beltre. A groundout by designated hitter Michael Liberto moved Hernandez to third albeit with two outs. Jimenez couldn’t get out of the inning as shortstop Alex McClure doubled down the left field line scoring Hernandez.
The Mudcats pushed the lead back to two in the bottom of the sixth. An error on a throw by McClure allowed Urshela to reach to lead off the inning. Aguilar backed up the error with a double off the wall in center which scored Urshela from first to put the score at 3-1 through six innings.
A two out rally in the seventh by the Mudcats ended the night for Adams and resulted in two more runs for the Mudcats pushing the lead to 5-1. Holt started the rally for the Mudcats with a double and then a high chop infield single to Wolters moved Holt to third. Urshela hit a soft liner into right for a single that scored Holt; however, Beltre misfielded the ball as it went right through his legs which allowed Wolters to score all the way from first.
Three straight one out hits in the eighth off Reichenbach allowed the Blue Rocks to cut the Mudcat lead in half. A single by Franco got it started. Then back to back doubles by Fletcher and Franco resulted in two runs as the lead was cut to two at 5-3.
But that would be as close as the Blue Rocks would get as Jordan Cooper came in and closed the game down in the ninth.
“We have to keep going one game at a time, we still have a lot of work to do” said Rodriguez after the game
The Mudcats will look to take the four game series against the Blue Rocks Thursday night at 7:15 at Five County Stadium.