by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats are back home after a day off following a solid road trip, and now they see what they can do against a good South Division opponent.
West Tenn is the only team in the division with a winning record besides the first-place Tennessee Smokies, and the Jaxx are in second place 3 ½ games out. The Mudcats, who have won 14 of their last 19 after a nightmarish April, are six games out and in fourth place.
West Tenn has on its roster Dustin Ackley, the second baseman out of UNC who was picked second in last June’s draft. The Jaxx’ manager is Tim Laker, who was an original Triple-A Durham Bull in 1998.
It’s a warm, calm night as southpaw Travis Webb (1-2) takes on fellow lefty Mauricio Robles (3-1).
And the Mudcats get the homestand off on the right foot with a comfortable 6-2 win.
Carolina takes a 2-0 lead in the third, as Chris Denove leads off with a single to left and Sean Danielson follows by lifting a pitch just over the Catfish Corner signs at the 309 mark in right.
And the Mudcats keep the offense going in the fourth. Denove singles to left with one out before Kris Negron draws a two-out walk. Jake Kahaulelio follows with an RBI double to left, and then Sean Henry hits a two-run single up the middle.
West Tenn gets on the board in the fifth as Nate Tenbrink draws a leadoff walk and later scores on Carlos Triunfel’s one-out single to right. And the visitors add another in the sixth as Lo Kuo-Hui hits a one-out double to left and scores on Scott Savastano’s two-out single to left.
But the Mudcats finished the scoring in the bottom of the frame, as Danielson singles to left center and scores on Kahaulelio’s one-out single to right center.
Danielson finishes with two hits including the tater while Kahaulelio has the double, two singles and an RBI. Denove chips in a pair of singles as the Mudcats outhit the visitors 11-5.
Webb gets the win, allowing just two hits and a run in five innings while striking out seven against six walks.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “It was good we were able to carry our momentum over to tonight. We got off to a good start and played well. Webb was good — he ran into some trouble a couple of times, but he battled his way out of it. He’s a competitor and that helps him a lot in those situations. Danielson has handled his role very well and stays ready. It’s nice in these ‘American League’ games (without a designated hitter) because it’s easier to get him in the lineup.”
Danielson: “I got a fastball up and away. I saw the first pitch and was thinking bunt, but I got a good pitch to put some wood on it and it looked like it went about 310 feet.”
Webb: “I had most of my pitches going tonight, and when I have that I need to be able to throw strikes and go a little bit deeper into the game. At this level (as opposed to Single-A) guys are a little bit better at every position. I think that the hitters are a little bit more aggressive in certain counts and they aren’t afraid to take pitches in other counts. You have to be a little more careful around these guys.”
What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats’ momentum continues, as they’re back to within two games of .500.
Play of the game
Stars of the game
Mudcats lead 1-0.
Carolina: Won 2.
West Tenn: Lost 3.
Carolina: Promoted RHP Matt Klinker to Louisville. Promoted LHP Matt Fariel and LHP Daryl Harang from Lynchburg. Reactivated LHP Lee Tabor from disabled list. Placed RHP Dallas Buck (oblique) on disabled list.
West Tenn: none.
West Tenn at Mudcats, Thursday, 7:15 p.m.
Michael Pineda (R, 3-1, 2.23) vs. Alexander Smit (L, 1-2, 8.69)