by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON It’s the Carolina Mudcats’ swan song for 2010, and they’ll take on the Southern League’s best team, the Tennessee Smokies, with a chance to gain a split of the four-game series.
The Mudcats will finish in last place in the North Division in the second half, and with the ninth best record in the 10-team league.
Lefty Travis Webb (6-9) will take the hill for Carolina today, with Craig Muschko (8-3) going for Tennessee on a proverbial perfect day for baseball.
And the Mudcats outhit the visitors 10-6, but commit three errors in the 3-2 loss to finish 58-79.
Tennessee puts up a couple of runs in the third inning. Brett Jackson leads off with a double to left, followed by an RBI double to left from Brandon Guyer. Guyer steals third, and later scores on Steve Clevenger’s one-out single to right.
The Smokies make it 3-0 in the fifth, as Guyer smacks the first pitch of the inning over the left-field wall.
But Shane Carlson retaliates by doing exactly the same thing in the bottom of the frame.
The Mudcats keep coming in the seventh. Chris McMurray leads off with a single to right, takes third on pinch-hitter Cody Puckett’s double to left and scores on Miguel Rojas’ one-out grounder to short.
Guyer leads the Smokies with a homer and a double for the two RBI, while Jackson kicks in a double and a single. Muschko goes five innings to get the win, allowing a run on five hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
Carlson homers and doubles to lead the Mudcats, who also get two hits each from McMurray and Jake Kahaulelio. Webb allows three runs on six hits with three strikeouts and three walks in five innings.
During the post-game awards ceremony Dave Sappelt, the Southern League MVP who has been called up to Louisville, wins the Willie Duke award for spirit and dedication to the game on and off the field. Catcher Brandon Yarbrough collects the Ed Hales award for the most unselfish attitude and commitment to the Mudcats community.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Bell: “A lot of great things happened individually. A lot of guys learned what it takes to play to win. The results aren’t always there, but I think they learned a lot about how to play the game. As far as the Cincinnati Reds are concerned a lot of good things happened. It’s about teaching these guys what it takes and them learning what it takes to become winning players. I think that happened. There are so many examples, and that made it a success in my mind. The effort level and the work ethic and all the important things have been there.”
Webb: “I was hoping to go into the sixth, but it was good. Sometimes it’s hard to go out there that last day. You’re looking forward to going home, but you’re also looking to finish strong. Once you’re out there it’s just normal. My last 10-12 starts have been really good, and I think I finished up strong.”
Kahaulelio: “Overall this was a good year for me. I actually sat down with D.B. (Bell) the other day and talked about it and this is a great year for me to try to get my name out in the organization. I’m proud of myself for trying to stay as consistent as I could.”
What does it all mean?
That the Smokies will have great momentum heading into the playoffs. For the Mudcats, it’s “Wait till next year!”
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Tennessee wins 13-7.
Carolina: Lost 3.
Tennessee: Won 3.
Carolina: LHP Travis Webb activated from temporarily inactive list.
Tennessee: RHP Craig Muschko activated from disabled list.
West Tenn at Tennessee, Thursday, 7:15 p.m.
TBA vs. Chris Archer (R, 8-2, 1.80)