by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats take on the Birmingham Barons in the second of a three-game series, and at this point in the season it’s a battle of also-rans.
Tonight’s game is going to be played under very cool — 76 degrees — temperatures by recent standards, under plenty of clouds and a continuing threat of rain.
Southpaw Travis Webb (6-8) will take the hill for the Mudcats against Matt Long (6-8).
The Mudcats are better early but the Barons are better late, coming back to take a 5-4 victory and the series.
Both teams are quiet for the first three innings before the Mudcats get to Long. Felix Perez draws a leadoff walk, stealing second before Carlos Mendez singles up the middle. Sean Henry then hits an ostensible sacrifice fly ball to right that Salvador Sanchez misplays. Mike Costanzo hits a two-run double to center, and later scores on a wild pitch to make it 4-0. With two out, Mudcats skipper David Bell is ejected after Denis Phipps is called out on strikes.
Birmingham gets onto the board in the fourth as Jim Gallagher is hit by a pitch, advances on a one-out single by catcher Josh Phegley and a walk to Sanchez before C.J. Retherford brings him home with a single to left.
And the Barons take the lead with a big rally of their own in the eighth. With one out, Tyler Kuhn singles to the mound and steals second. Christian Marrero follows with an RBI double to right and Phegley an RBI double to center. Sanchez then singles to left to chase Abe Woody and bring on Ruben Medina, who gives up a two-run double to Retherford for the tying and winning runs.
Phegley leads the Barons with a double and two singles with an RBI, while Retherford adds a double and a single with three RBI and Marrero a double and a single for an RBI. Henry Mabee (3-6) is the winning pitcher, while Anthony Carter picks up his 22nd save of the season.
Webb gets a quality start, going six innings and allowing a run on seven hits with two strikeouts against a walk. Woody (4-3) suffers the loss. Costanzo doubles and singles for two RBI for Carolina, while Mendez chips in two hits.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “Webb was good for us. He had a tough first inning and it took a lot to get out of it. So for him to get through six innings this late in the year only allowing one run was good. He had a good fastball. … We’ve had a few guys go up to Louisville. (Shortstop Kris) Negron had a good year and it was time for him to go up.”
Birmingham manager Ever Magallanes: “We’ve never given up. We’ve been playing hard like that the whole year. The guys have been playing hard and battling back. Guys have been stepping up and getting timely hits and the bullpen has been stepping up. We’ve battled the whole game the whole season. The won-loss record we haven’t thought about it a long time.”
Phegley: “We had that rough inning there when we couldn’t make the pitches and they were getting some timely hits. But we clawed back and put some tough at-bats together and came back and won it. There’s always pride when you go out there. It’s your at-bat every time you step in there. Those numbers at the end of the year are something you can stand by. It’s an individual battle every time you get up there and that’s what keeps us going.”
What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats won't be in the playoffs this season.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Retherford’s two-run double in the eighth.
Mudcats lead 4-3.
Carolina: Lost 3.
Birmingham: Won 3.
Carolina: SS Kris Negron promoted to Louisville. LHP Lee Tabor promoted to Louisville. SS Miguel Rojas promoted from Lynchburg. RHP Abe Woody promoted from Lynchburg. RHP Federico Baez placed on disabled list (shoulder).
Birmingham at Mudcats, 7:15 p.m.
Kyle McCulloch (R, 2-1, 5.59) vs. James Avery (R, 0-3, 5.79)