ZEBULON, N.C. - Pat McInerney walked three times and had a run scoring single in the eighth, but the Blue Rocks jumped out to an early four run lead before eventually defeating Carolina 6-2 on Saturday night at Five County Stadium. Noah Zavolas started and allowed four runs over six innings in loss.
Wilmington (16-13, 60-38) led from start to finish in Saturday's series opener in Zebulon after getting a run in the first, two in the third, one in the fourth and later two in the seventh to take a 6-0 lead. Carolina (14-16, 53-46) eventually came back with two in the eighth, but would end up falling 6-2.
Zavolas (L, 5-5, 3.09) started and took the loss after all four Wilmington runs between the first and fourth innings. He finished his start with five strikeouts and two walks, but also allowed four runs on six hits.
The Blue Rocks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after Blake Perkins tripled and scored on a misplayed sacrifice fly hit by Kyle Isbel to left-center in the first. Perkins also drove in one of Wilmington's two runs in the third with a RBI ground out and scored a run after reaching on an error in the seventh before singling in the eighth. In all, Perkins went 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI in the game while pacing the Wilmington offense.
Wilmington's lead increased to 3-0 in the third when Kyle Kasser doubled and scored on Perkins' aforementioned ground out. Michael Gigliotti also reached on a bunt single in the third before scoring on a two-out RBI single from Dennicher Carrasco.
Carrasco, like Perkins, also had a two hit game as ended up 2-for-4 with two RBI while hitting fifth in the Wilmington lineup. Isbel, meanwhile, hit fourth and went 2-for-4 with a run and a RBI. Kasser hit ninth and also went 2-for-4 with one of his two hits being a two-out RBI single in the fourth that put Wilmington up 4-0.
Zavolas was on the hook for all four of Wilmington's runs between the first and fourth innings. He remained in the game through the sixth, but left with Carolina down 4-0 and after allowing four runs on six hits. He also walked two and struck out five (including three in the first) while reaching 86 pitches (64 strikes) in the game.
Reliever Cody Beckman eventually took over for Zavolas in the seventh and went on to see two unearned runs score against him in his only inning of the game. Beckman started the seventh with a strikeout, but then saw Perkins reach on a catching error made by Brice Turang in shallow right. The dropped pop up and resulting two-base error allowed Perkins to second and a run scoring hit from Carrasco brought him in to make it 5-0. The Wilmington lead then jumped to 6-0 after Isbel, who had singled earlier, scored on a two-out hit from Cristian Perez.
J.T. Hintzen and Justin Topa also pitched out of the pen for Carolina in Saturday's series opening loss. Hintzen allowed two hits over a scoreless eighth and Topa worked a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts.
Wilmington totaled 11 hits and scored six runs in the game while going 6-for-20 with runners in scoring position. They stranded 10 in the victory, but provided more than enough offense for Tillo and the Wilmington pen as Walker Sheller and Josh Dye worked the rest of the game. Sheller allowed two Carolina runs in the eighth, but Dye (S, 2) left two inherited runners on and pitched through an inning and 1/3 scoreless to close out the game.
Both of Carolina's runs were scored in the eighth after the Mudcats loaded the bases and brought across runs on a sacrifice fly from Eddie Silva and a run scoring hit from McInerney. Tristen Lutz started that frame by reaching on a one-out hit-by-pitch and both Mario Feliciano and Payton followed with hits to load the bases.
Carolina loaded the bases three times in the game, but managed just the two runs over those three chances. The Mudcats ended up going 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position in the loss and left nine men on base.
Feliciano went 2-for-4 with a run in the game for Carolina. Silva went 2-for-4 with a RBI and McInerney was 1-for-1 with three walks and a RBI.
Wilmington took a 9-1 lead in the overall season series between the two teams with the victory. They also went up 1-0 in the current series and dropped Carolina to 1-3 in their current home stand.
The series will continue on Sunday afternoon with the first pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Five County Stadium. RHP Christian Taugner is scheduled to start for Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
Individual game tickets, season ticket plans, group ticket packages and the latest mini plans are all available now by visiting the Five County Stadium front office, by calling (919) 269-CATS (2287) and by visiting carolinamudcats.com/tickets.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.