by Mike Potter
Seventy-eight degrees and clear are the conditions as David Bell begins his third season as manager with an unlikely 20 returning players on the roster.
With the weirdness of the unbalanced Southern League schedule, unless they return in the league championship series this will be the Diamondbacks affiliate Mobile BayBears’ last visit to Eastern Wake County.
Daryl Thompson, the Mudcats’ one member of the Cincinnati Reds’ 40-man roster, will get the opening night start against Wes Roemer who is making his Double-A debut.
The night turns out to be a kick in the shin for the Mudcats, who give up five in the top of the ninth in a 7-4 loss.
Mobile gets one in the first as Paul Goldschmidt lifts a two-out, 2-1 offering over the left-field wall.
But the Mudcats put up a crooked number in the bottom of the third. Mike Costanzo leads off with a sliding triple to center and scores on Cody Puckett’s single past third. David Cook then follows by blasting the next pitch over the wall in left to make it 3-1.
Eric Eymann comes on to pinch-hit for Thompson in the fifth. Thompson allows four hits, the earned run, and strikes out four against one walk.
Brad Boxberger takes the hill for the Mudcats.
The Mudcats stretch their lead to 4-1 in the sixth off Billy Spottiswood, as Felix Perez and Neftali Soto hit back-to-back singles followed by Costanzo’s third double of the night.
Mobile makes it 4-2 off Justin Freeman in the eighth. Evan Frey draws a leadoff walk, steals second and continues to third on catcher Kevin Coddington’s throwing error, and scores on Marc Krauss’ two-out single to left center.
The Mudcats have a chance to put it away when they load the bases in the eighth, but center fielder A.J. Pollock makes a diving stab of Coddington’s sinking liner to right center that would have cleared the bases.
And the visitors make the Mudcats’ first closer Donnie Joseph pay dearly. Taylor Harbin and Jake Elmore stroke back-to-back singles before pinch-hitter Mark Hallberg ties the score with a double to center. With one out Frey reaches on a bunt single, followed by Goldschmidt’s launching a 2-1 pitch over the left-field wall to complete the scoring.
They said it …
Bell: “We went at them with some good arms. Donnie Joseph is going to be fine. Maybe he was trying to do a little too much, but he’ll settle in. He has great stuff. They’re all going to be fine. Offensively we had good at-bats. We had some opportunities but it’s not always going to work out. Daryl pitched real well, and I think he got better and better as the game went on. Costanzo had a good night. All those balls were off the wall. He can hit. He can play.”
Mobile manager Turner Ward: “Wow! That happened so quick I don’t even know what to say. We wanted to take a strike and make (Joseph) throw some strikes with us down a couple of runs. The first two hitters did a great job of doing that and getting on base. I told Marcus before he got up there ‘We’re not bunting, we’re swinging.’ He got ahead in the count and that was a huge pitch hit right there in that situation. And the bunt by Even Frey couldn’t have come at a better time to put us in a situation where Goldie was at the plate. That was five quick runs.”
Goldschmidt: “It was a good win. The first one was a fastball out over the plate and I was able to get some height on it. The last one was the same count, 2-1. It was a fastball inside and luckily I was able to stay up the middle with it and was able to barrel it and get some air under it. I thought it would get the job done. I didn’t think it was going to get out, but I’ll take it.”
Costanzo: “Any loss is tough. We’re just going to go back out and get them tomorrow. I felt good at the plate, but it wasn’t good enough obviously. We’re here to win. It kind of puts the dagger in. It would have been nice to get the win and have everybody be happy obviously.”
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Goldschmidt’s ninth-inning homer.
Mobile leads 1-0.
Mudcats: Lost 4.
Mobile: Won 1.
Mudcats (James Avery, 0-0, 0.00) vs. Mobile (Wade Miley, 0-0, 0.00), 7:15 p.m.