by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats have an opportunity to take the lead in their current series with the Jacksonville Suns if they can win this one tonight.
Some more good news for the home fans is that lefty Tom Cochran (4-3), one of the team’s two aces, is on the hill for Carolina against Jeff Allison (4-3).
Cochran is one of six Mudcats who have been elected to play in the Southern League All-Star Game, which will be played July 12 in Huntsville. Also going from Carolina are right-handed pitcher Matt Klinker, outfielders Sean Henry and Dave Sappelt and infielders Jake Kahaulelio and Mike Costanzo. First-half champion Jacksonville also have six players — pitchers Daniel Jennings, Tom Koehler and Elih Villanueva along with infielders Matt Dominiguez and Tim Torres and outfielder Brandon Tripp — on the South Division roster.
Cochran has a high-quality outing and the Mudcats outhit the Suns 10-2 in a 6-0 romp.
The Mudcats take the lead in the second as catcher Devin Mesoraco leads off with a single to center, advances on Brandon Yarbrough’s single to right and later scores on Jose Castro’s one-out fly to center.
It goes to 2-0 in the fourth as Costanzo blasts a 1-0 offering onto the clubhouse building behind right field.
The Mudcats add an insurance run in the seventh as Carlos Mendez leads off with a single to left and scores on Denis Phipps’ two-out double to center that chases Allison and brings on Garrett Parcell.
And it goes to 6-0 off Jhan Marinez in the ninth. Eric Eymann walks, and then scores on a wild pitch after Costanzo’s single to right. Mesoraco follows him by blasting a 3-2 pitch over the left-field wall.
Cochran goes seven innings and allows the two hits, striking out four against two walks before Fernando Baez comes on for his first save.
Costanzo finishes with three hits, while Mesoraco and Eymann chip in two apiece.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “It’s great to see Cochran pitch like that. We’ve been lucky to have him the last two years. He’s a big part of the team, so durable and helps the team out so much. He deserves to be an all-star this year. All our guys (who were selected) do. It’s a nice honor and good to see them getting the attention. … Mesoraco has just gotten better in every way possible. He’s just on track with everything he’s doing. The best thing is that he cares so much and plays to win and plays hard all the time, and has the talent to go with it.”
Cochran: “It was a good game with my catcher, that’s for sure. We saw eye to eye tonight. He knew the hitters pretty well and I felt confident with him back there. It was one of those things where he’s just putting (the fingers) down, and if he feels that good about it I’m going to throw it there. I had good fastballs early on and then had good off-speed stuff and got in a rhythm. My hitters got it going and then it kind of took off from there.”
Mesoraco: “It was a nice day. Cochran threw great and got the ‘W’ and that’s what matters. He has to use all his pitches and command the zone really well, and tonight was probably the best I’ve seen him. He didn’t miss a whole lot of spots and when he did, they didn’t get good wood on it. He doesn’t shake me off a whole lot at all. We’re pretty much on the same page.”
What does it all mean?
That with two straight wins, the Mudcats have a little momentum.
Play of the game
Phipps’ double in the seventh.
Stars of the game
Jacksonville leads 11-7.
Carolina: Won 2.
Jacksonville: Lost 2.
Jacksonville at Mudcats, Thursday, 7:15 p.m.
TBA vs. Matt Fairel (L, 1-3, 6.81)