by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON There’s a new cast of characters on the visiting team tonight as the Chattanooga Lookouts visit the Carolina Mudcats at Five County Stadium.
Carolina comes in a game out of first place, taking on a Lookouts team that is on a five-game losing streak.
A hard rain delays the start of the game for an hour, after which Matt Fairel (3-3) takes the hill against the Lookouts’ Aaron Miller (0-2). Chattanooga’s shortstop tonight is Jerry Sands, a graduate of Smithfield-Selma High.
Tonight the Mudcats score all of their runs in the second inning, and then hold on for dear life in the 6-5 win.
The second inning is all Mudcats. Devin Mesoraco leads off by blasting a 1-1 offering over the left-field wall. Dave Sappelt follows with a triple to right and scores on Sean Henry’s grounder to short. With two out Fairel walks and takes second on a wild pitch, and then Kris Negron deposits a 1-1 slider over the left-field wall. Jake Kahaulelio walks and Luis Terrero singles to left before Mike Costanzo’s two-run double to right makes it 6-0.
Chattanooga gets a mark in the third, as Sands reaches on a one-out fielder’s choice ball to short and scores on Corey Smith’s double to left.
The Lookouts chip away in the sixth. Sands leads off with a single to right, and with one out Andrew Lambo walks. Ramon Nivar follows with an RBI double to right that chases Fairel and brings on Jeremy Horst. With two out, Mike Rivera reaches on an error to first baseman Costanzo that allows two runs and cuts it to 6-4.
Chattanooga adds another run off Joe Krebs in the eighth. Nivar hits a one-out double to left and then steals third before scoring on Kyle Russell’s grounder to first.
But it’s not enough as the Mudcats break the streak. Fairel goes 5 1/3 innings and allows four runs — two earned — on six hits with five strikeouts against three walks. Federico Baez gets his third save. Negron leads the Mudcats at the plate with the homer and a single, while Henry chips in a double and a single with an RBI.
Jaime Pedroza leads Chattanooga with three hits.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “Fairel was good. The last 3-4 starts he’s been really good. He’s settled in at this level and has been real aggressive. He’s competitive and not timid at all. That has a lot to do with his success. … Usually when you score a lot early and don’t keep adding on bad things happen. But it says a lot about our bullpen that we were able to win the game.”
Fairel: “I felt pretty good out there. I had a good night, and the defense played well behind me. It was great to get the win. You can’t help the weather. You just have to grin and bear it just like everyone else. All my pitches were working, and I didn’t make any big mistakes.”
Negron: “We hit (Miller) pretty well last time. I think we were all just seeing the ball well. We played well last series but we didn’t get any wins. We just came out and played hard today, and kept playing the way we know how to play and kept it going. ”
What does it all mean?
The Mudcats remain a game out of first, but have some momentum back.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Henry’s gunning down of Pedroza at home in the first with Mesoraco easily blocking the plate.
Mudcats lead 10-8.
Carolina: Won 1.
Chattanooga: Lost 6.
Carolina: IF Eric Eymann placed on disabled list (thumb).
Chattanooga at Mudcats, Sunday, 2 p.m.
Chris Withrow (R, 3-4, 4.85) vs. Daryl Thompson (R, 0-4, 3.54)