by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats play the third of their five-game series with the Mississippi Braves to close out the Southern League’s first half, and neither team has been in the race for quite a while.
Scott Carroll (1-2) is on the hill for Carolina on another warm night against Brandon Beachy (1-1), and there’s a decent crowd on hand in anticipation of post-game fireworks.
The Mudcats score two in the ninth to win 5-4, their second walkoff victory in three nights.
In the early innings, the pitchers’ duel people have been hoping to see materializes.
The Mudcats get a run in the fifth as Jose Castro legs out a double to left center, followed by Carroll’s single to left and a comebacker to the mound from Kris Negron to score Castro.
But Beachy and his teammates retaliate in the sixth. The pitcher leads off the inning by blasting a pitch over the wall in right. Antoan Richardson follows with a single to left, steals second, advances on Alejandro Machado’s sacrifice bunt and scores on Willie Cabrera’s fielder’s-choice ball to third.
Mississippi makes it 3-1 in the seventh as Juan Gonzalez hits a one-out single to right, takes third on Jesus Sucre’s double to left and scores on pinch hitter Concepcion Rodriguez’ fly ball to right.
But the Mudcats tie it up in the bottom of the frame off Jaye Chapman. Castro leads off with a single to right center and advances on a wild pitch. Negron then draws a one-out walk before Sean Danielson’s RBI single to center. After Dave Sappelt walks, Mike Costanzo hits a sacrifice fly to left.
Mississippi goes ahead again in the eighth, as Cabrera hits a one-out single to left and scores on Gomez’ double to left.
But the Mudcats win it in the ninth off Lee Hyde. Negron draws a leadoff walk and then Danielson, after failing on an attempt to bunt, strokes a double down the right-field line. Sappelt singles to right, and after pinch hitter Sean Henry bunts the runners over Denis Phipps smacks the game-winning single between short and third.
Carroll has the quality start, allowing three runs on eight hits in seven innings with a strikeout and no walks. Joe Krebs (3-1) gets the win.
Castro has three hits including a pair of doubles while Phipps adds three singles and Danielson the double and single.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “Those are fun. All the wins are fun, but those are extra nice. So many good things happened. Phipps had the game-winning hit and a great night. And look at our defense — Castro might have won that game. Some of the plays he made were incredible. Danielson stayed focused and did a great job on that last at-bat. Carroll has pitched well since he’s been here. And we needed to get (Ruben) Medina and Krebs in there tonight. It’s great to have Krebs back. We’re hoping to get him back to Triple-A, but he’s good for our team.”
Phipps: “I was looking for the fastball and I put a good swing on it. It just wanted to win the game. I was seeing the ball good. I have been taking to (hitting coach) Ryan Jackson about my hitting and it was good today.”
Danielson: “I was pretty disappointed I didn’t get the bunt down. I was trying to really focus in and bear down and try to make something happen. Fortunately I stuck the bat out there and hit it. He threw me a fastball down and away that I fouled off, and then he threw me the same pitch again.”
What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats are pretty good at late-inning rallies right now.
Play of the game
The 5-3 double play Costanzo turned in the top of the sixth.
Stars of the game
Mudcats lead 2-1.
Carolina: Won 1.
Mississippi: Lost 1.
Mississippi at Mudcats, 6:15 p.m.
Mike Minor (L, 1-6, 4.44) vs. Tom Cochran (L, 3-2, 2.62)