Mudcats Waste Late Lead in 8-7 Loss in Wilmington
WILMINGTON, DE - Ryan Aguilar stretched his current hit streak to ten straight games after hitting a solo home run in the sixth, but the Mudcats lost a 7-2 eighth inning lead while falling 8-7 in tonight's series opener in Wilmington. Reliever Rodrigo Benoit allowed three inherited runners to score and two runs of his own across in the eighth in the loss.
Saturday's series opener was scoreless through the third before the Blue Rocks (11-12, 55-37) scored twice against Carolina (13-10, 52-41) starter Nelson Hernandez in the fourth to take an early 2-0 lead. That lead was cut in half, however, when Aguilar connected on his home run to right at the start of the sixth, making it a 2-1 Wilmington lead.
Aguilar's home run, meanwhile, was his seventh of the year and stretched his current hitting streak to 10 straight games. Aguilar went 1-for-4 with two runs, a home run and two RBI in the loss.
Hernandez pitched through the fifth and allowed two runs on six hits. He ended up with a no-decision, walked three and struck out four in his start.
After getting a run in the sixth off starter Marcelo Martinez on Aguilar's home run, the Mudcats then rallied for six runs in the seventh against the Wilmington bullpen while taking a 7-2 lead in the game. Martinez pitched through the sixth and allowed just one run on three hits. He also struck out nine and walked two.
Rito Lugo, who was the first pitcher out of the pen for the Blue Rocks, faced four batters in the seventh, but did not record an out while leaving partway through the inning. He was followed by Austin Lambright, who also failed to finish the frame as he faced six and recorded just one out. Lugo allowed four runs and Lambright allowed two in the seventh.
Carolina's six run seventh included a game tying single from Wes Rogers and a go-ahead fielder's choice hit into by Brice Turang. The Blue Rocks attempted to catch Eddie Silva at home on Turang's grounder to second in the seventh, but an errant throw allowed Silva in as Carolina took a 3-2 lead.
The inning then continued with back-to-back bases loaded walks issued by Lambright and a two-run single to right-center from Payton Henry. In all, Carolina totaled six runs on five hits in the seventh while taking a 7-2 lead in the game.
Reliever Josh Mitchell eventually took over for Wilmington and stranded three inherited runners while holding Carolina scoreless the rest of the way in the seventh. He also worked a scoreless eighth.
The Mudcats led 7-2 after seven, but the Blue Rocks rallied back with five runs in the eighth to tie the game at 7-7 before getting the winning run across while sending just two men to the plate in the ninth.
That late rally included three runs against Cody Beckman and two against Benoit. Beckman originally entered the game in place of Hernandez and was able to work a scoreless sixth and seventh before leaving with the bases loaded and with one out in the eighth.
Brewer Hicklen started the eighth with a double to right-center, but Dennicher Carrasco followed with a strikeout. MJ Melendez also struck out, but a wild pitch allowed him to reach first and allowed Hicklen to move to third. Nick Pratto then walked to load the bases and Carolina then went to Benoit with the bases loaded and with one out in the inning.
Benoit went on to induce a force out at second, but Hicklen scored on the play while cutting the lead to 7-3. The inning then continued with run scoring hits from Sebastian Rivero, Colby Schultz and Michael Gigliotti. Gigliotti's hit scored two to tie the game and knocked Benoit out. Justin Topa followed and finished the frame with a strikeout.
With the game tied 7-7, and after reliever Tad Ratliff worked a scoreless top of the ninth, Topa (L, 0-3, 3.69) went on to allow the winning run across in the ninth while taking the loss. Hicklen started the ninth with a single to center before stealing second and scoring on a single to center from Carrasco.
Topa allowed a run on two hits and recorded just the one out in the loss. Benoit allowed two runs on three hits while also recording just one out and suffered his third blown save.
Ratliff (W, 2-2, 1.64) earned the win after pitching a scoreless ninth with a strikeout.
The Blue Rocks took a 1-0 lead in the three game series with the Saturday night victory. They also took a 6-1 lead in the overall season series between the two teams.
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