by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON First chance to catch up with the Carolina Mudcats, in their inaugural season in the Class A Carolina League after this franchise played as the Kinston Indians for the previous 25 seasons.
Tonight’s opponent, the Wilmington (Del.) Blue Rocks, is the affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. Former Durham Bull Damon Hollins is the Wilmington hitting coach.
Opening Night starter Clayton Cook (1-0, 1.80) will go for the Mudcats against Tyler Sample (0-1, 5.79).
Cook gets through five with a no-hitter, and after the Blue Rocks tie the score in the sixth the Mudcats rally in the eighth to win 5-3.
Carolina puts up three runs in the first. Tyler Holt draws a leadoff walk, and then with one out Giovanny Urshela singles to left followed by Jesus Aguilar’s single to short. Jeremie Tice hit a two-run single to right, followed by Jake Lowery’s RBI single to right.
Wilmington ties the score with a trio of runs in the third, two of the unearned variety. Kenny Swab led off by reaching on an error to second baseman Tony Wolters, followed by Luis Piterson’s single to left center to break up the no-hitter. Whit Merrifield hit a sacrifice bunt and reached on an error to Cook. Angel Franco hits a two-run single to center, followed by Kevin David’s sacrifice fly to left to tie it.
The Mudcats get the winner and the clincher in the eighth. With one out Urshela is hit by a pitch from Chase Boruff, followed by a walk to Aguilar. Justin Toole comes on to pinch run for Urshela. Then with two out, Lowery hits an RBI single to right followed by Carlos Moncrief’s RBI double to center.
Lowery leads the Mudcats with a double and a single for two RBI, while Aguilar adds two hits and Moncrief an RBI double. Jose Flores (1-0) is the winning pitcher.
Boruff (0-2) takes the loss.
They said it …
Mudcats manager Edwin Rodriguez: “The higher you go in professional baseball, the more this is going to happen. When you make errors, they take advantage of it. Whenever you give more than 27 outs to a team they’re going to take advantage. Cook did an outstanding job – he was mixing his pitches very well, throwing all three pitches for strikes. He ran out of gas a little bit, but it’s early in the season and that was a good second outing.”
Lowery: “I just wanted to drive something with two outs. He threw me a fastball and I was fortunate enough to make contact with it and get the guy in. We’ve got a good team, a good staff. The pitching staff is outstanding and can keep us in games. And one through nine our hitters are crazy powerful. ”
Cook: “I was throwing all my pitches for strikes, getting the curveball over and the changeup a lot more than in the past outing. The four-seam fastball was there for me all night as well. On Opening Night you get a little bit tight. I made a mechanical change, staying back a little and getting a little bit better tilt and finishing my pitches a little better.”
What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats look pretty solid after the first homestand of the season.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Lowery’s single in the eighth.
Mudcats lead 2-1.
Mudcats: Won 1.
Wilmington: Lost 1.
Mudcats (Mike Rayl 0-1, 11.25) at Winston-Salem (Andre Rienzo 1-0, 1.80), Friday, 7 p.m.
Wilmington (Jason Adam 0-0, 1.80) vs. Frederick (Scott Copeland 1-0, 0.00), Friday, 7:05 p.m.