By Darren Headrick / Carolina Mudcats (email@example.com)
Zebulon, N.C. —The Carolina Mudcats dropped an 8-6 decision to the Frederick Keys in 10 innings on Friday night at Five County Stadium. The Mudcats (1-1, 30-39) were unable to hold leads of four and two runs after surrendering seven in the final three frames. It was the fifth blown save for the Mudcats in the last 10 games. The Keys (1-1, 33-36) have won four of their last five.
Benny Suarez (1-2) shouldered the loss for Carolina. The right-hander pitched the decisive inning, giving up two runs on two hits and a walk. Matt Price (3-4) earned the win for Frederick by shutting down the Mudcats over the final two frames.
The Mudcats got their offense going early, as Todd Hankins led off the first inning with a single. Hankins stole second and advanced to third on a fielder’s choice from Yandy Diaz. Three straight singles from Jeremy Lucas, Joe Sever, and Jerrud Sabourin plated three.
Erik Gonzalez led off the third with a single, and scored on a groundout by Jeremy Lucas later in the frame. The Mudcats led 4-0 through five innings.
The Keys battled back with a disputed, one-out triple from Sammie Starr. Mike Yastrzemski got the Keys on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly to left that scored.
The rally continued against Josh Martin in the eighth. Brenden Webb and Pedro Perez knocked consecutive singles and scored on a double by Starr. Elvis Araujo relieved Martin, but wild pitched Starr to third with one out. Another sac-fly to left by Yastrzemski squared the game at four.
The Mudcats reclaimed the lead in the last of the frame by earning four walks off Matt Hobgood. The fourth base on balls, this one to Jerrud Sabourin, forced in Gonzalez for a 5-4 lead. Hobgood balked in Lucas before escaping the inning.
Michael Burgess helped the Keys answer once more in the ninth by launching his 10th home run of the season off Araujo. Jason Esposito followed with a hit and moved to second on a walk to Webb. Against reliever Grant Sides, pinch hitter Zane Chavez lined a single to left, scoring Esposito, and tied the game once more.
Todd Hankins managed to steal his way to third in the ninth, but was left stranded when Yandy Diaz whiffed to end the inning. Tucker Nathans had the go-ahead poke with a two-run single off Suarez in the 10th.
Adam Plutko gave the Mudcats a quality start, hurling six innings and giving up just one run on three hits while striking out six.
The Mudcats wrap up their series with the Keys with on Saturday, June 21. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the gates open at 5 p.m. The team will give out a pint glass to the first 1,200 adults through the gates, presented by Budweiser and Radio FM 96.1. Tickets and other information are available by calling the box office at (919) 269-2287 or by logging on to carolinamudcats.com.