by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats got a day of rest after winning their home series against the Huntsville Stars, and tonight we’ll see whether or not that was good for their momentum.
It’s “Paint in Purple” night, a promotion of sports marketing at East Carolina University which has many in the crowd wearing ECU gear.
The game isn’t going to start on time as the tarp is on the field 15 minutes before the scheduled start. First pitch actually happens at 8:48, after a 93-minute rain delay.
Ace right-hander Matt Klinker (4-4) is going for Carolina against the M-Braves’ Scott Diamond (2-5).
It’s a good pitchers’ duel throughout but the Mudcats get the last laugh, with Sean Henry’s RBI single with two out in the ninth ending the 4-3 win.
Mississippi takes a 1-0 lead in the third, as Donell Linares launches the first two-out pitch he sees over the left-field wall.
And it goes to 2-0 in the fourth, as leadoff man Mauro Gomez is hit by a pitch and scores on Jesus Sucre’s one-out, bases-loaded single to right.
The Mudcats cut the lead in half in the sixth, as Jake Kahaulelio reaches on an error to shortstop Juan Gonzalez and later scores on a wild pitch.
Carolina then ties it with one out in the seventh, as Eric Eymann blasts a one-out, 0-1 pitch over the wall down the left-field line.
Mississippi gets another run in the eighth, as Gomez hits a one-out double to left and scores on Michael Daniel’s single to center.
Carolina ties it in the bottom of the frame, as Kahaulelio leads off with a single and scores on a one-out wild pitch.
And the Mudcats win in the ninth off Benino Pruneda. Denis Phipps leads off with a walk, followed by Eymann’s single to left and Sean Danielson’s sacrifice bunt to the mound. With two out, Kahaulelio walks before Henry singles up the middle for the victory.
Philippe Valiquette gets the victory, while Eymann and Henry finish with three hits each.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “It’s been a good homestand. Everybody’s going to play over the next few days, and we’re going to get ready for the second half. I don’t think Klinker felt his most comfortable, but he battled and gave us a chance to win the game. Henry had a great at-bat and a big hit. It was a clutch hit, obviously. It’s fun to have a big hit like that to win a game.”
Henry: “At first I was looking for a base-hit bunt, but he threw a first-pitch curve ball. It was a battle from there. Any time you get a walk-off hit it’s a pretty big thing for the team, you know?”
Kahaulelio: “We don’t give up. We get down and then we try to piece it back together. When we were on a losing streak before our pitching was good and we couldn’t hit. And then we’d hit and not get good pitching. But we’re confident and know what we’re capable of. If a guy gets out in a pressure situation the guy behind him gets a hit. The key to this streak is that our confidence level is coming up and we’re keeping our heads up.”
What does it all mean?
That the often-streaky Mudcats have some pretty good momentum again.
Play of the game
Henry’s game-winning hit.
Stars of the game
Mudcats lead 1-0.
Carolina: Won 4.
Mississippi: Lost 5.
Carolina: Promoted Jordan Smith promoted to Cincinnati.
Mississippi: Promoted C Jesus Sucre from Myrtle Beach. Placed C Orlando Mercado on disabled list.
Mississippi at Mudcats, 7:15 p.m.
Travis Webb (L, 2-4, 4.97) vs. Erik Cordier (R, 4-4, 3.99)