Mudcats stumble in extras, lose 4-3
ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats and Frederick Keys decided nine innings wasn’t enough time to decide a winner so they went extra innings. Unfortunately, the Mudcats were on the short end of a 4-3 loss to the Keys in 11 innings on Friday night at Five County Stadium.
After both teams went scoreless since the sixth inning, the Keys finally broke through in the eleventh inning with a double to left field that drove the go ahead run in from second to take the lead for the first time since the top of the first.
Mudcats manager David Wallace thinks there is a lot to learn from losses such as this one.
“We have to do a better job of finishing games and we squandered a couple of opportunities to put the game away or at least extend the lead," Wallace said. "When we get down, we have to figure out a way to get back into it.”
Frederick got on the board early after Mudcats starting pitcher Jacob Lee gave up a double to the first batter of the game. A bunt single put runners on first and third and a single to left field gave the Keys the lead. After a fly out to center field, second baseman Zach MacPhee committed an error on what should have been a ground ball that could have ended the inning. This loaded the bases with only one out. A sacrifice fly scored another Keys run. A walk to the next batter loaded the bases again, but Lee was able to strike out the last batter of the inning to prevent any more damage.
The Mudcats answered the Keys in the bottom of the first inning. Center fielder Tyler Naquin walked to start the inning and shortstop Francisco Lindor followed that up with his fourth triple of the season to score Naquin. First baseman Jerrud Sabourin hit an RBI groundout to first base to score Lindor and tie the game at two runs apiece.
After struggling through the first inning, Lee cruised through the second and third inning before running into trouble in the fourth inning. With two out and nobody on base, Lee committed an error on a dribbler down the first base line. A bunt single down the third base line continued the inning with two on and still two outs. An infield pop out ended the inning without allowing a run.
Lee was lifted after a rough start to the fifth inning. Lee walked the first batter of the inning before getting a fly out for the first out of the inning. After surrendering a double to the next batter to put runners on second and third, Lee was relieved by left hander JD Reichenbach. Lee’s final line for the night was 4.1 innings pitched, five hits, two runs, one earned, and two walks and five strikeouts.
Right fielder Jordan Smith opened the fourth inning with a single. Smith advanced to third on a single by designated hitter Luigi Rodriguez with one out. With Smith headed to third, the throw from the outfield was wide, and Rodriguez attempted to reach second, but was thrown out by the third baseman for the second out. Third baseman Justin Toole hit an infield single to drive in Smith for the Mudcats first lead of the game at 3-2. Toole’s hit extended his hitting streak to nine games, the longest by a Mudcat’s player this season.
Carolina had trouble hitting all night with runners in scoring position going 1-for-11 as a team and left a total of ten men on base.
The Mudcats took advantage of Frederick’s defensive trouble in the fifth inning. Left fielder Aaron Siliga reached on an error by the second baseman, and Naquin reached on the next at bat by a throwing error on the pitcher that allowed the runners to advance to second and third. However, the Keys recorded three consecutive outs without allowing the runners to advance any further and keep them from scoring.
With one out in the sixth, Reichenbach walked the leadoff batter who later advanced to second on a ground out to third base. A two-out single allowed the runner to score and tie the game at three.
The Mudcats were aggressive on the base paths all night, and many times it did not go as Carolina would have hoped. In all, the Mudcats were caught stealing three times and several times they were thrown out trying to get extra bases out of hits.
Wallace doesn’t think the team was overly aggressive on the base paths.
“That’s what we want," Wallace said. "We’ve given them the freedom to run in most situations. We want to make sure they learn from it. It’s a long season and we’ll learn throughout the year.”
Lindor singled with one out in the seventh to bring Sabourin to the plate. Sabourin lined a pitch down the first base line that bounced around in the corner. Lindor was sent home to attempt to take the lead, but was thrown out at the plate.
There were some nice defensive plays over the course of the night from both teams. To record the first out of the second inning, Siliga snagged a deep drive that had it dropped was sure to be extra bases. With Naquin at bat to start the third inning, he hit a liner to third base, but Frederick third baseman Jason Esposito dove to pull in the hit for an out. With runners on second and third and two out in the fifth inning, Toole knocked down a ground ball that was destined for left field and threw out the runner at first to save a run and end the inning.
The Mudcats continue the series against the Keys on Saturday as they attempt to get back to their winning ways. First pitch is scheduled for 6:15.
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.