by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats are home for the first time since July 3, and they’re alone in first place in the Southern League’s North Division.
Montgomery is, of course, the Double-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, and in the normal progression players who are promoted become Durham Bulls. If there’s another sports team anywhere whose colors are listed as “Butter and Blue,” I certainly haven’t heard of it.
The Mudcats will send Scott Carroll (2-4) to the hill against Alex Cobb (4-2) in a battle of right-handers.
Carolina outhits the visitors 12-7, but Montgomery wins the game 6-4.
Montgomery takes a 1-0 lead in the first. Shawn O’Malley leads off with a single to second, steals second and continues on catcher Devin Mesoraco’s throwing error, and scores on Nevin Ashley’s fly ball to center.
The Mudcats tie it in the third as Kris Negron leads off with a single up the middle and scores on a double to right from Felix Perez, who is just up from Lynchburg.
The Biscuits go ahead again in the fifth. Henry Wrigley leads off with a single to center and takes second on a wild pitch. After Rashad Eldridge walks, Matt Sweeney hits an RBI single to right and is out at second. John Matulia then doubles to left to make it 3-1.
But Carolina responds in the bottom of the frame. Negron leads off with a bunt single to the mound, and with one out Luis Terrero — just down from Louisville — launches his first pitch high over the right-field wall to tie the score. Mike Costanzo follows with a single to right center, followed by Mesoraco’s single to left, Dave Sappelt’s single to right and Jake Kahaulelio’s sacrifice fly to left to make it 4-3.
Montgomery ties it again in the sixth. O’Malley leads off with a triple to right, followed by Emeel Salem’s RBI grounder to right that ends Carroll’s night and brings on Brad Boxberger.
And the Biscuits take the lead in the seventh, as Anderson draws a leadoff walk and Sweeney launches a one-out, 1-2 offering high over the wall in right.
Sweeney finishes with the homer and double for three RBI, raising his batting average to .197. O’Malley is the only other Biscuit with two hits. Heath Rollins (3-0), who relieved for the Bulls earlier this season, gets the win in relief while Matthew Gorgen collects his 18th save.
Perez finishes with a double and a single while Negron and Costanzo each have two hits for Carolina.
Carroll goes 5 1/3 after retiring 12 in a row after O’Malley’s leadoff run. Boxberger (0-1) takes the loss.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “It was just one of those nights. It’s not easier to hit with runners in scoring position, and sometimes it doesn’t work out for you. But we’ve been doing that. That’s a big key to success. Carroll has been pitching great since he’s been here. He’s got a good sinker and gets outs early in the count because he’s got good movement on it. … Terrero has been playing really well in Triple-A — he’s really only here because he had a calf injury. He’s a big-league player, really. It’s the first time I had seen Perez. He’s an exciting player. He played great in A-ball and is really going to help us a lot. ”
Montgomery manager Billy Gardner Jr.: “Sweeney’s been starting to swing the bat better. He’s had two big hits for us recently, had one back at home to tie the game and then one tonight. He’s been coming around and has a better approach at the plate. Cobb was good — he just made some mistakes in the fifth inning and they made him pay for them. This was a good win. Anytime you get the first one after the All-Star Break it’s good.”
Sweeney: “I’ve been needing a day like today. I saw the ball pretty good and was able to put some good swings on it. (Boxberger) left a changeup up a little bit. I was just right on path with it and hit it pretty well.”
What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats lead Huntsville by just half a game in the division race.
Play of the game
Stars of the game
Montgomery leads 4-2.
Carolina: Lost 1.
Montgomery: Won 1.
Carolina: OF Felix Perez promoted from Lynchburg. OF Luis Terrero assigned from Louisville. OF Denis Phipps assigned to Lynchburg. C Chris McMurray assigned to Lynchburg.
Montgomery at Mudcats, Thursday, 7:15 p.m.
David Newman (L, 3-6, 3.96) vs. Tom Cochran (L, 7-3, 2.33)