by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats have won two of their first three games in their current series with the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, and are on the verge of winning their fifth straight series.
It’s a sunny evening as the fans prepare for traveling mascot “Rally,” and for the second straight night there’s a pretty good crowd in the house.
The Mudcats send ace lefty Tom Cochran (2-1) to the hill against Ryan Feierabend, who is making his first appearance for the Diamond Jaxx.
And the visitors prevail 4-2 in a contest punctuated by a couple of very long home runs.
West Tenn scores in the first when Carlos Peguero draws a one-out walk and scores on Alex Liddi’s triple off the top of the wall under the scoreboard in left.
The Mudcats retaliate in the bottom of the frame, as Jake Kahaulelio blasts a one-out, 2-1 pitch high over the wall in left.
Carolina makes it 2-1 in the second as Sean Danielson leads off with a double to left, advances on Dave Sappelt’s single to left and scores on a balk.
West Tenn comes back with two in the third. Liddi hits a one-out double to right center and then scores on Scott Savastano’s double to left. UNC alumnus Dustin Ackley then hits an RBI single to left to make it 3-2.
And the Diamond Jaxx tack on another in the fifth, as Peguero leads off by blasting an 0-1 pitch all the way over the clubhouse behind right field.
The Jaxx outhit the ‘Cats 10-5, behind the homer and a single with two runs scored from Peguero and a triple and double from Liddi.
Feierabend, who missed all of last season with elbow surgery after spending parts of the previous three seasons in Seattle, allows the two runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and no walks in seven innings. And as planned, he is promoted to Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League after the outing.
Cochran has a decent outing, giving up four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “Their starter was good. We started off with a couple of runs and then he kind of settled in and shut us down. He knew what he was doing out there. I think experience always helps, especially with a pitcher who doesn’t just come in and throw the ball by guys. He’s got to locate and select pitches and obviously knew what he was doing. … That ball Jake hit really jumped out. He’s really swinging the bat well and has been for a while. He really hit that ball. Once they’re over the fence I don’t pay much attention.”
West Tenn manager Tim Laker: “Feierabend was good. The plan was just to get him one outing here. He threw the ball really good. Did a good job. … We were trying to estimate Peguero’s homer and we thought at least 500 feet. He’s got unbelievable power.”
Feierabend: “I thought it went well. I forgot it was like to put up zeroes. I’ve struggled with giving up some runs early in games, but it was nice to be able to relax a little bit and trust my pitches. We got some nice defensive plays all around the infield. It was good to get a win while I was here. It’s a stepping stone, now on to the next step.”
What does it all mean?
The winner of the series is decided Sunday. High drama.
Play of the game
Stars of the game
Carolina: Lost 1.
West Tenn: Won 1.
Carolina: Promoted C Chris Denove to Louisville. Promoted C Devin Mesoraco from Lynchburg.
West Tenn: none.
West Tenn at Mudcats, Sunday, 2 p.m.
Steve Bray (R, 1-3, 2.60) vs. Matt Fairel (L, 0-0, 0.00)