by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON It’s Game 3 of yet another Carolina Mudcats series with the Jacksonville Suns, and so far the wins are at one apiece.
Tonight’s big promotion is mascot Muddy’s birthday, and his counterparts from the Carolina Hurricanes, Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Bobcats, Carolina Railhawks, N.C. State, Charlotte Knights, Winston-Salem Dash and WilsonTobs are in the house. And there will be the usual Friday post-game fireworks as well.
Mudcats ace Matt Klinker (5-4) is on the hill against Jose Rosario (3-2).
Throw the pitchers’ duel idea out the window, as Jacksonville wins 10-8 and Mudcats catcher Devin Mesoraco suffers a concussion that will have him out of the lineup for a bit.
Jacksonville puts up a trio of unearned runs in the first. Lorenzo Scott leads off with a double to right and takes third on Osvaldo Martinez’ grounder to second. Brandon Tripp then hits a grounder to first baseman Mike Costanzo, who comes home with it before Scott arrives and separates Mesoraco from the ball for the run. Mesoraco leaves the game and Chris Denove comes on. With two out, Lee Mitchell lifts a 1-0 offering over the former Catfish Corner fence down the right-field line.
The Mudcats storm back for four in the bottom of the frame. Kris Negron reaches on a throwing error from second baseman Tim Torres, followed by Jake Kahaulelio’s single to left and a walk to Dave Sappelt. With one out, Luis Terrero gets a sacrifice fly to center, and then Denove launches a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall to make it 4-3.
Jacksonville ties it in the second as Gregory Burns leads off with a double to right, takes third on Rosario’s sacrifice bunt and scores when Scott hits a fielder’s-choice ball to second and Kahaulelio’s throw home is wild.
And the Suns add three more in the fourth. Scott draws a one-out walk, and with two out Tripp is hit by a pitch. Vinny Rottino hits an RBI single to left, followed by Mitchell’s two-run triple to left.
Jacksonville tacks on some more in the seventh, batting around and scoring three runs with Scott’s two-run single the key hit.
The Mudcats get three right after the stretch to cut it to 10-7. With Wayne Korpi on the hill Terrero walks, followed by an RBI double to left from Denove. Denove steals third and scores on Sean Henry’s grounder to short. Garrett Parcell replaces Korpi, who gives up a walk to Eric Eymann. Negron then hits a fielder’s-choice ball to third with Castro scoring on the play.
The Mudcats cut it to 10-8 with one out in the eighth when Mike Costanzo blasts a 3-2 offering over Catfish Corner, but can’t add anything in the ninth.
Mitchell finishes with his homer and triple for four RBI, Scott doubles and singles for two and Matt Dominguez chips in three hits for Jacksonville. Steven Cishek (2-1) gets the win in relief while Thursday’s loser Jose Ceda gets his first save.
Denove paces the Mudcats with the homer and double for four RBI, while Jose Castro has two hits as the Mudcats finish with just six.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “Mesoraco is fine — he has a mild concussion and it could have been a lot worse. He held his own pretty good there. He’s so good at blocking the plate and sometimes it’s hard to avoid. He did a great job blocking it and Scott made a great play. It’s part of the game.”
Jacksonville manager Tim Leiper: “Scott sets the tone every night. That’s just the way he plays and everyone knows it. That was a big run for us. You hate to see it but you respect that guys play the game hard and clean.”
Scott: “It was just going on contact with a ground ball. I guess I bring it a little better than most guys. I’ve got a football background (at Ball State) and I never even think about sliding into the plate.”
What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats are three games out of first while Jacksonville remains a game and a half out.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Mitchell’s fourth-inning triple.
Jacksonville leads 14-10.
Carolina: Lost 1.
Jacksonville: Won 1.
Jacksonville at Mudcats, 6:15 p.m.
Elih Villanueva (R, 10-4, 2.33) vs. Scott Carroll (R, 3-5, 2.92)