by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Checking in on the Carolina Mudcats, who happen to be in last place in the Carolina League.
All of that doesn’t mean much, as through 18 games the league’s hottest teams are a scant two games ahead of the coldest. The Mudcats lead the league with a .277 batting average.
Tonight they’ll try for their third win in as many tries against the Potomac Nationals. Southpaw Shawn Morimando (1-1, 1.29) will go for the Mudcats against Blake Schwartz who is making his Carolina League debut.
One swing of the bat makes all the difference, as the Nats get in a lick with a 2-0 victory.
Potomac takes that lead with two out in the fourth. After Jason Martinson draws a leadoff walk, Kevin Keyes launches a 1-0 offering into left field, shattering one of the ballpark lights a la Roy Hobbs in “The Natural.” The “Trackman” program in the press box estimates the ball would have dropped at 440 feet.
Carolina’s best threat is in the ninth off closer Derek Self, as Jerrud Sabourin draws a leadoff walk and Jordan Smith singles up the middle before the pitcher gets three straight ground balls to collect the save.
Schwartz earns the victory, going six innings and allowing three hits with five strikeouts against a walk.
Morimando gets the quality start in defeat, going six innings and allowing the two runs on three hits with three strikeouts against a pair of walks.
Keyes has the biggest of Potomac’s three hits. Francisco Lindor and Bryson Myles each double to lead Carolina’s six-hit attack.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Wallace: “It was more than one pitch, but it’s part of a long season. They threw a couple of good arms against us, and I thought we should have done a little better in some situations where we had guys on base. It’s not like the guys aren’t trying. It happens. We’re leading the league in average, but we’re not doing a good job of getting guys in.”
Morimando: “I felt good coming in. I wanted to give the team a chance to win. The two runs came on a mistake pitch (fastball) I need to learn from. I just continued to battle. I was generally locating my fastball well. I had a good changeup and a few good two-seam fastballs. I couldn’t really find my curve tonight, but I had a few good sliders.”
Lindor: “Schwartz was attacking the zone and challenging us. We didn’t have a lot of strikeouts, but we just didn’t get some hits when we needed to. This team can hit. We’ve got a lot of great hitters, smart hitters. Losing stings. We’ve just got to get hits with men in scoring position.”
What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats are three games out of first place with 51 games left in the half.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Mudcats: Lost 1.
Potomac: Won 1.
Mudcats lead 2-1.
Mudcats (Will Roberts 0-3, 8.56) vs. Potomac (Taylor Hill 3-0, 1.42), Thursday, 7:15 p.m.