LYNCHBURG, VA - Pat McInerney doubled in a run and scored a run in the top of the eleventh to give his club a two run lead in the top of the eleventh and reliever Clayton Andrews worked around a first and third, no-out, jam in the bottom of the eleventh to seal a series tying 3-2 extra inning's win for the Mudcats versus the Hillcats on Tuesday night in Lynchburg.
Andrews (S, 4) entered the game in the eleventh after reliever Rodrigo Benoit balked in a run to cut Carolina's two run lead down to one at 3-2. Andrews inherited a first and third, no-out, jam but then induced a line out to short for the inning's first out before getting a strikeout and caught steal at home double play to end the game.
The strikeout came against Trenton Brooks and the caught steal at home occurred when Gabriel Mejia attempted to score from third after Carolina (23-15) bluffed an attempt to catch Nolan Jones as he tried for second on the strikeout as well. Catcher Payton Henry caught the third strike from Andrews, threw to shortstop Devin Hairston in front of second and then received Hairston's throw back to the plate in plenty of time to tag Mejia and end the game.
Andrews faced just two batters and threw nine pitches (six strikes) while earning his fourth save of the season. Benoit (3-0, BS, 0.64) balked twice, allowed two hits and saw two unearned runs score while blowing the save and earning the win.
The game was originally scoreless through nine before the Mudcats finally broke through with a run in the tenth off Lynchburg (18-18) reliever Jared Robinson. That lone Carolina run in the tenth came across after Robinson walked three straight, including a bases loaded walk of Rob Henry to force in inserted runner Eddie Silva from third.
Carolina had a 1-0 lead heading into the Lynchburg half of the tenth, but Benoit was unable to hold the lead as he allowed two hits in the frame, including a game tying sacrifice fly to catcher Mike Rivera. The sac fly, however, was errantly missed in left-center by Tristen Lutz, so the inning continued with two on and one out. Benoit eventually got through it with two fly outs while leaving two men on base.
The game was tied 1-1 through the tenth, but the Mudcats broke through with two runs in the eleventh when McInerney doubled in the inserted runner and later scoring on a sacrifice bunt from Zach Clark. Both eleventh inning runs were scored off Robinson (0-2, 2.37) as he allowed three unearned runs on just one hit and four walks in the loss.
Carolina took a 3-1 to the Lynchburg half of the eleventh, but two balks in the frame from Benoit ended up scoring one Lynchburg run. Andrews then entered and ended up getting a lineout before seeing the final two outs come on the strikeout and caught steal at home to end the game.
Matt Smith started and worked through five scoreless frames before giving way to Christian Taugner in the sixth. Taugner then pitched through the ninth without allowing a run as the game stayed tied at 0-0 through nine. Smith scattered three hits, walked one and struck out two over five scoreless in his start. Taugner walked one, struck out three and faced one over the minimum over four scoreless while getting through the ninth.
Justin Garza started for Lynchburg and pitched through a career high seven innings all while holding the Mudcats without a run. Garza also struck out five and allowed three hits (all doubles) while finishing without a decision. Reliever Dakody Clemmer followed and worked through two scoreless frames while keeping the game scoreless into the tenth. Clemmer also struck out two, walked one and allowed one hit.
Carolina won the game despite going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They also left 12 men on base and scored just three runs despite totaling four doubles out of five hits total.
The Carolina victory tied the series at a game apiece with game three set for Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. in Lynchburg. The Carolina League's earned run average leader Noah Zavolas (2-2, 2.36) will start for Carolina in Wednesday's game at City Stadium versus the Hillcats. The game will air live on the Mudcats Radio Network, The Big Dawg 98.5 FM and online at carolinamudcats.com via TuneIn Radio.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.