by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats play their first weekend home game of the season, and after an 0-2 start on the homestand David Bell’s club has a little work to do.
The Biscuits, Double-A farm club of the Tampa Bay Rays, just added a familiar baseball face in the Triangle as Craig Albernaz has been sent down from Durham and will start at catcher. He replaces Jose Lobaton, who is now a Bull.
It promises to be a good battle on the mound. Steady Mudcats veteran Tom Cochran is facing lefty Jake McGee, who is one of the Rays’ top prospects. It doesn’t turn out to be much of a pitchers’ duel, though, as the Mudcats get some 8-0 revenge in front of a solid crowd of 5,873 on a very pleasant evening.
The first 2 ½ innings are quiet before the Mudcats do some damage off McGee in the third. Michael Griffin draws a leadoff walk, followed by Sean Danielson’s single to right. Kris Negron then smacked as two-run double to left to make it 2-0.
And they pour on some more in the fourth. Catcher Chris Denove doubles to right center and then steals third, and with two out Michael Griffin blasts a 1-0 pitch over the left-field wall just to the left of the scoreboard.
It gets better for the home team in the fifth. Yonder Alonzo draws a one-out walk to end McGee’s stint, and then with two out Sean Henry rips a triple to left center off Rayner Oliveros.
The Mudcats keep rolling it up in the seventh. Negron leads off with a double to left and scores on Alonzo’s single to center. Denis Phipps singles to left, then with two out Denove lines an RBI single to right to make it 7-0.
Carolina adds an “insurance run” in the eighth as Negron draws a two-out walk and scores on Alonzo’s double off the right-field wall.
Cochran gets the quality start, allowing just two hits with eight strikeouts against a walk in six innings. The Mudcats win the hit battle 11-4 and have four players with multiple-hit games.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “I felt like the way we started the season (4-0) we wanted to keep it going. Great job from our pitching. Cochran did a great job. He’s durable and has good stuff. He can get left-handers and right-handers out. He has a good fastball that’s sneaky. I saw some good things offensively. Negron had a good night, and Griffin and Denove swung the bat well. There were a lot of good things.”
Cochran: “I was getting ahead of the batters and throwing strikes. Denove and I had a pretty good game plan after I’d watched the last couple of nights from the stands. I was able to throw my pitches when I needed them. I kind of mixed it in and out with my cutter, slider, fastball and changeup tonight. I kind of got them on their front foot a little bit and backed them off with the fastball. They’re a great-hitting team and I had to keep mixing it up on them. The hitters put a couple of runs up early and that always helps a lot.”
Negron: “I felt pretty good. I’ve been trying to gain the confidence back that I had in the spring and I’m seeing the ball well. We just needed to get going, and the hits were contagious. The scouting report was that McGee was a hard-throwing lefty, so we just kept waiting on that fastball. We had been in a slide, but it was good to get a win. This team can pitch and play defense and it’s a good, solid team all around.”
What does it all mean?
That both teams are 5-3 and the Mudcats might have a little momentum back after snapping a three-game slide.
Stars of the game
2. Griffin, with the homer and single for two RBI.
3. Negron, with two doubles for two RBI.
Play of the game
Negron’s second-inning double that set the tone for the day.
Montgomery leads 2-1.
Carolina: Won 1.
Montgomery: Lost 1.
Montgomery: C Craig Albernaz received from Durham. C Jose Lobaton promoted to Durham.
Montgomery at Mudcats, Saturday, 6:15 p.m.
David Newmann (L, 0-0, 0.00) vs. Daryl Thompson (R, 0-0, 2.08)