ZEBULON, NC - Leugim Castillo hit a solo home run in the fifth, Rob Henry drove in the go-ahead runs with a clutch two-run single with two-outs in the sixth, Peter Strzelecki earned a victory with four strikeouts over two scoreless frames and J.T. Hintzen earned his first save as the Mudcats defeated the Hillcats 7-3 on Friday night at Five County Stadium.
The Mudcats (24-36, 63-66) were down 2-0 early in the game before coming back with a run in the fifth on Castillo's home run and took the lead an inning later on Henry's two-out, two-run single to center. Carolina then extended its lead with four more runs in the seventh with one coming on a RBI single from Brice Turang and another on a two-out RBI double from Eddie Silva.
Brock Hartson started for Lynchburg (26-32, 58-67) and ended up with the loss after losing his club's early two run lead and after allowing three runs on five hits over five and 2/2 inning pitched. Hartson (L, 1-2, 3.51) gave up Castillo's homer in the fifth, but left the game moments before reliever Manuel Alvarez allowed Henry's two-run hit in the sixth. Alvarez (BS, 1) also allowed Turang's run scoring hit in the seventh before leaving the game. Dakody Clemmer followed and went on to allowed two inherited runners to score on a RBI groundout by Payton Henry and Silva's RBI double.
Castillo went 1-for-4 with a run, a RBI and his first homer as a Mudcats. He also started at first for the first time in his career as the original starting first baseman, Pat McInerney, was a late scratch. Turang was also 1-for-4 with a run and a RBI while batting first for Carolina. Wes Rogers went 1-for-3 with two runs, a double and a walk. Mario Feliciano went 1-for-4 with a double, Payton Henry was 2-for-4 with a RBI, Rob Henry went 1-for-3 with two RBI and Silva went 1-for-4 with a RBI double.
The Hillcats originally led first and eventually scored once more in the eighth while loading the bases against reliever Robbie Hitt. That late rally saw the Hillcats walk four times in the inning and score once while knocking Hitt out of the game. Carolina's J.T. Hintzen, however, followed and left the bases loaded while stranding all three inherited runners on base to keep the Mudcats on top in the game.
Hintzen (S, 1) later worked a scoreless ninth and earned his first save of the season. Hintzen allowed a hit in the ninth, but induced a double play in the next at bat and then finished the game with a strikeout. Hitt, meanwhile, finished with two outs recorded and allowed one run on four walks.
Strzelecki (W, 2-0, 3.18) earned the win for Carolina as he worked through two near perfect innings between the sixth and seventh. Strzelecki struck out four and hit a batter while facing seven over his two scoreless frames.
Scott Sunitsch started and pitched through the fifth with two runs allowed on six hits. He also struck out six and walked one in his first start with the Mudcats.
The series opening victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Mudcats and came at the beginning of their final home stand of the season. The second game of the home stand and the middle game of Carolina's three-game series versus Lynchburg is scheduled for Saturday at 5:00 p.m. at Five County Stadium.
The game will air on the Mudcats Radio Network, The Big Dawg 98.5 FM and online at carolinamudcats.com via TuneIn Radio. It will also stream in high-definition video on MiLB.tv via paid subscription.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.