Tice, Mucdats hammer the Hillcats, 5-2
ZEBULON - The Carolina Mudcats (8-9) looked to get their pitching back on track following a 14-8 blow out on Tuesday night as they took on the Lynchburg Hillcats (10-6) for the third game of a four game series.
The Mudcats behind Jeremie Tice’s two home runs and four RBI’s were able to beat the Hillcats 5-2.
“I’m glad for Tice as he had a great spring training," Mudcats manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He was struggling a little bit at the beginning of the season and now he’s getting his swing back and he’s the big power guy in the middle of the lineup.”
Following a pitching debacle the previous night the Mudcats sent lefty T.J. House to the mound. House has looked great early this season and would continue his impressive start against the Hillcats as he went six innings giving up only two runs on three hits and recording four strikeouts.
“He’s been doing that for four outings," Rodriguez said. "He’s been keeping us in the game, he attacked the hitters and that’s very important. This game is all about pitching and when you have a guy working fast and throwing strikes you’re able to keep the tempo up.”
The Mudcats struck early off Hillcat starter Ronan Pacheco. Second baseman Tony Wolters drew a one out walk in the bottom of the first followed by an infield single by third baseman Giovanny Urshela. After a strikeout by designated hitter Jesus Aguilar for the second out of the inning, Tice smacked a three run home run over the left center field wall to give the Mudcats an early 3-0 lead.
The Hillcats' first scoring opportunity came off on a very strange play. With one out third baseman Edward Salcedo, who reached on a walk, broke for second with desingated hitter Ryan Query batting. Query popped the ball up to shallow center and shortstop Ronny Rodriguez ran the ball down. Salcedo on the play continued to run past second towards third. Rodriguez turned and threw to first to double up Salcedo but Rodriguez’s throw was wild and bounced into the Hillcats dugout. Because of the throw Salcedo was awarded third giving right fielder Robby Hefflinger a man at third with two outs; however, House was able to get Hefflinger to fly out to right to end the inning.
Walks got Pacheco in trouble in the second. He walked both center fielder Tyler Holt and Wolters and then gave up another infield single to Urshela to the load the bases with one out. Unfortunately, the Mudcats were unable to take advantage as Aguilar struck out for the second time in as many innings and Tice grounded softly to second keeping the score at 3-0 after two innings.
The Hillcats were able to get their first run in the third off House. Catcher Braeden Schlehuber drove a one out solo shot over the left field wall to cut the Mudcat lead to 3-1.
The Mudcats got back the run in the bottom of the third when catcher Jake Lowery led off the inning with a double off the left field wall. Following a single by left fielder Anthony Gallas which moved Lowery to third, Rodriguez grounded to second for a double play but scored Lowery and pushed the Mudcats lead back up to three at 4-1.
The Hillcats pulled back within two as they scored another run in the fifth as second baseman Matt Weaver drove a double off the right center wall. Weaver scored on a single by Schlehuber, giving Schlehuber his second RBI of the game and cutting the deficit to 4-2.
Blaine Sims came in to relieve Pacheco and was greeted rudely by the first man he faced in the fifth. Tice drove a solo shot over the left field wall for his second home run of the game giving the Mudcats a 5-2 lead.
The Mudcats struggling bullpen was turned to in the seventh as righty Shawn Armstrong came in for House. Armstrong would throw two scoreless innings striking out four hitters and giving up only one hit.
Right-hander Jose Flores was then brought in to close the game out and would do so without any real danger giving the Mudcats bullpen a much needed boost.
“That’s what it’s all about," Rodriguez said. "They have to learn that this is a long season. One day if it doesn’t work out the next day you have to come in and make it work."
The Mudcats will look to wrap up the series win on Thursday in a morning game at 11:00 am at Five County Stadium.