by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats come home to start their five-game series with the Montgomery Biscuits in serious need of some wins.
Montgomery is a little better at 7-14 as the Tampa Bay Rays farm club visits North Carolina for the first time this season. On the Biscuits’ roster and playing right field tonight is UNC alumnus Reid Fronk.
The Mudcats will go with Matt Klinker (0-1), who was the team’s ace last season and started this campaign at Louisville before being sent down for some more seasoning.
Montgomery will counter with southpaw Frank De Los Santos, who is yet to have a decision this season.
On this night the Mudcats get a rare easy one, as four pitchers combine to allow just four hits in the 7-0 shutout.
The Mudcats take control by jumping all over De Los Santos in the first inning. With one out Miguel Rojas walks, followed by Mike Costanzo’s single to right and Cody Puckett’s RBI single to left. David Cook then reaches on a fielder’s choice when third baseman Daniel Mayora fires the ball wildly past second to allow Costanzo to score. Felix Perez’ double to right makes it 3-0, and then with two out Jose Castro’s two-run double to left makes it 5-0.
The Mudcats take it to 6-0 in the third as Cook leads off with a double to left and scores on Jake Kahaulelio’s single to left.
De Los Santos lasts only three innings but Klinker goes a solid five, striking out three against two walks with two hits.
Carolina stretches it to 7-0 in the seventh, as Rojas singles to left and Costanzo follows with an RBI double to right.
Klinker gets the win, allowing just the two hits while striking out four against a pair of walks. Costanzo carries the biggest bat for Carolina with the double and single and one RBI.
Henry Wrigley’s double is the only extra-base hit for Montgomery.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “Tonight was great. Klinker five shutout and that obviously set the tone. Lee Tabor came in after him and was the key to the game. The most important thing for Klinker is that he continues to pitch. Our bats were good. That hadn’t happened very often where we were able to score early. We got the lead and then our starters really shut them down. I think it’s a sign of things to come.”
Montgomery manager Billy Gardner Jr.: “We pitched pretty good, but just couldn’t get anything going offensively. That five-spot in the first put our backs against the wall. We had a chance to get that double play and that made a big difference. We’ve got to do a better job pitching around mistakes and not letting it get away. Klinker does a good job of mixing his pitches and he kept us off-balance.”
Klinker: “It was a long fifth inning and I got hit on the leg with a line drive, and D.B. pulled me out. I was like, ‘Man, I want that sixth inning,” but he made the right call. I’m fine now. It’s always good to win the first game of a series. ”
Costanzo: “It was a good night for the whole team. The pitchers came out strong and we put up five in the first. We’ve been playing good, but we’ve run into some hot teams and the ball’s not falling our way sometimes. It’s just baseball. Hopefully this is a game that will turn us back around. We just need a series win right now.”
Fronk: “It’s not ideal sleeping all night on a bus, but it’s just part of this league and one of those things you’ve got to battle through. We didn’t have our best night out there tonight, but we’ll get them tomorrow. Klinker kind of pitched backwards when he got behind in the count — he’d go to his off-speed stuff. When he was ahead he went right after us.”
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Castro’s two-run double in the first.
Mudcats lead 1-0.
Mudcats: Won 1.
Biscuits: Lost 2.
Mudcats (Daryl Thompson, 0-2, 6.46) vs. Biscuits (Matt Moore 1-2, 5.18), 7:15 p.m.