Errors Prove Costly in 6-5 Series Opening Loss in Lynchburg
LYNCHBURG, VA - Rob Henry had a two-out, two-strike, three-run triple in the first while giving his club an early lead, but the Hillcats came back with three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth while erasing a 5-1 deficit while defeating the Mudcats 6-5 in Friday's series opener in Lynchburg at City Stadium. The loss was Carolina's sixth straight.
Henry's triple in the first came with two outs in the inning and on a 2-2 pitch from starter Cody Morris. It also came with the bases loaded and drove in three runs while putting the Mudcats (21-33, 60-63) up 3-0 early in the game. Henry also added two singles later in the game while going 3-for-4 with three RBI.
Morris left the game after allowing Henry's triple in the first and after reaching 37 pitches (21 strikes) in the opening frame. He also walked one, struck out one and allowed two hits while recording just two outs in his start.
Lynchburg (25-27, 57-62) reliever Justin Garza followed Morris and went on to finish the first with a ground out before allowing two Carolina runs in the second. Trever Morrison started the second inning rally with a lead off double before scoring moments later when Wes Rogers reached on an error by second baseman Luke Wakamatsu. Rogers then scored on a RBI double from Tristen Lutz as Carolina scored five runs over the first two innings.
Carolina led 5-1 following the second, but were held scoreless the rest of the way as Garza (W, 6-8, 4.78) and relievers Manuel Alvarez, Aaron Pinto and Andrew Teaney held the Mudcats without a run from the third through the end of the game.
Nelson Hernandez started for the Mudcats and pitched into the fourth while allowing four runs on eight hits over three and 2/3 innings. His four runs allowed were split between the first and fourth innings with one run coming across on a RBI double from Will Benson in the first and three runs scoring in the fourth on consecutive, two-out run scoring hits from Wakamatsu, Steven Kwan and Tyler Freeman.
Hernandez left the game in the fourth with Carolina still up 5-4 and reliever Matt Hardy followed while finishing the inning with a quick out to hold the one run Carolina lead.
The Mudcats led 5-4 entering the last of the fifth, but the Hillcats came back with two unearned runs against Hardy while going up 6-5 midway through the three hour and :36 minute game. It was a throwing error on a safety squeeze back to Hardy that plated both the tying and go-ahead runs for the Hillcats in the fifth.
Hardy's game changing error occurred after Rodriguez dropped a bunt to the mound while batting with runners at first and third and with one out in the inning. Hardy started motioning to first after fielding the bunt, but then quickly turned to third while attempting to get an out there after Mitch Reeves (who doubled to start the frame) slipped and fell while on the way back to third. Hardy's ensuing throw to third sailed over third baseman Eddie Silva and went on to allow both Reeves and Smith to score. Smith had reached earlier in the inning after being struck by a pitch. Reeves reached third earlier in the same frame on a passed ball by catcher Nathan Rodriguez.
Lynchburg led 6-5 after the fifth and did not look back as Carolina failed to score again in the game. Garza earned the victory, Alvarez (1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO), Pinto (1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO) both earned holds and Teaney (S, 3 - 1.0 IP, 0 R, 3 SO) earned the save.
Hardy took the loss for Carolina and finished the game with two unearned runs allowed on two hits. He also struck out three over two and 1/3 innings. Michael Petersen worked the final two frames and struck out two while retiring six straight to end the game.
Rob Henry led the way for Carolina on the offensive end as he went 3-for-4 with three RBI and the only multi-hit game for the Mudcats. Lutz, meanwhile, went 1-for-3 with a run a RBI before leaving the game in the fifth after landing awkwardly on a diving catch attempt in center during the fourth. Morrison ended up moving to center to replace Lutz in the outfield after originally starting the game at second. Morrison also went 1-for-3 with a run and a double in the game for the Mudcats.
The loss ran Carolina's current losing streak to six straight games. They will look to end the current six-game skid with a victory in game two of the series scheduled for Saturday night beginning at 6:00 p.m. at City Stadium in Lynchburg. Saturday's game will begin at 6:00 p.m. in Lynchburg and will air on the Mudcats Radio Network, The Big Dawg 98.5 FM and online at carolinamudcats.com via TuneIn Radio.
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