Mudcats ride nine run first to 11-2 victory

Corey Ray reached safely in all five of his at bats on Tuesday night

Corey Ray batting for the Carolina Mudcats. (NIKOLAUS - Carolina Mudcats)

By Greg Young / Carolina Mudcats | May 16, 2017 11:39 PM ET

ZEBULON, N.C. - Corbin Burnes pitched through a career high seven innings, Corey Ray was 3-for-3 with two RBIs, Mitch Ghelfi was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Isan Diaz was 2-for-3 with three RBIs as the Mudcats scored nine times in the first while defeating the visiting Wood Ducks 11-2 at Five County Stadium on Tuesday night.

The victory evened up Carolina's four game series with the Wood Ducks (15-23) at a game apiece and lifted the Mudcats (19-19) back into a .500 record. 

Burnes (4-0, 1.15) gave up a run and three hits in the first, but scattered four hits the rest of the way while earning his third straight win. He worked through the seventh (91 pitches) for the first time in his professional career and struck out five while walking one. 

Jeffrey Springs (0-5, 6.67) started for the Wood Ducks and failed to get through the first after allowing seven runs on three hits and walking three. Springs left with the bases loaded (41 pitches) in the first and reliever Omarlin Lopez followed out of the bullpen for the Wood Ducks. Carolina then rallied for two big hits and scored twice against Lopez before he eventually got out of the inning with Down East trailing 9-1 after the first.

Ray started the first inning onslaught with single to right and quickly moved to second a single to left by Luis Aviles. Springs then walked Diaz before getting Jake Gatewood to pop out. Both Lucas Erceg and Trent Clark then followed with back-to-back bases loaded walks and the Mudcats took a 2-1 lead. They then went ahead 4-1 on a two-out, bases loaded single to right-center by Ghelfi. Ray later followed with a two-run double to right and Diaz finished the frame with a 3-run double to right-center.

Ray was 2-for-2 in the first with a double, a single and two runs scored. He also finished the game 3-for-3 with two runs, two RBIs and two walks, while reaching base safely in each of his five at bats.

Diaz was 2-for-3 with a run and three RBIs. All three of his RBIs came on his two-out, bases loaded double off Lopez in the first. 

Ghelfi also had two hits and was 2-for-4 with two RBIs for the Mudcats in their 11-2 home win. Erceg and Clark, meanwhile, both scored twice and went 1-for-4 and 1-for-3 respectively.

The Mudcats led 9-1 after the first and went up 10-1 in the second when Erceg doubled and scored on a fielding error. They also scored again in the fourth when Clark reached on a three base error and came in on a sacrifice fly from Troy Stokes Jr.

Down East managed two runs versus Burnes in the loss, but were held scoreless in the eighth and ninth by Brad Kuntz and Quintin Torres-Costa. Kuntz pitched the eighth and allowed just one hit. Torres-Costa later pitched the ninth and finished the game with two strikeouts in his inning.

Springs took the loss for the Wood Ducks and was one of five pitchers used in the game for Down East. Lopez (2.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO) followed Springs, but worked only through the third. Scott Williams (2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB), Jason Richman (2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 SO) and outfielder Jairo Beras (1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R) followed and combined to allow just one unearned run the rest of the way.

NOTES: The Mudcats had previously scored only nine runs in the first inning over their first 37 games of the season before getting nine across in the first on Tuesday night. They scored six runs in the first on opening night, but scored just three other first inning runs between April 8 and May 15. The nine run outburst resulted in Carolina's highest scoring inning of the season and marked the first time they had a scored a run in the first since getting one across on April 29 against the Frederick Keys.

UP NEXT: The Mudcats and Wood Ducks will continue their four game set on Wednesday night with the first pitch at 7:00 p.m. The series is tied at 1-1 and the Mudcats will have Jordan Yamamoto on the mound for the game three start. Wednesday's game will air on the Mudcats Radio Network, The Big Dawg 98.5 FM, carolinamudcats.com via TuneIn Radio and on MiLB.tv. Coverage will begin at 6:45 p.m. with the Mudcats Pregame Show. 

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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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