ZEBULON, N.C. - Caleb Whalen drove in the game winner with a walk-off single in the ninth as the Mudcats downed the Dash 4-3 on Thursday night at Five County Stadium. The victory sealed a three game sweep for Carolina and lifted the Mudcats to a perfect 13-0 finish at Five County Stadium versus Winston-Salem this season.
The game was tied 3-3 entering the final frame before Weston Wilson started the ninth with a double to left and then moved to third on a bunt from Wendell Rijo. Whalen the followed with a ground ball to center against a drawn in Dash (53-83, 29-37) infield and the resulting single scored Wilson from third to give the Mudcats the 4-3 victory.
The Carolina (69-65, 33-33) victory came in the final meeting between the two teams in the 2017 season and resulted in Carolina's 13th straight home win against the Dash this year. It also accounted for Carolina's fifth walk-off win (fourth walk-off versus Winston-Salem) and Carolina's fifth series sweep of the season. The Mudcats also won their final four games versus the Dash in 2016 and have won 17 straight home games against the Dash since 2016.
Wilson hit seventh in Carolina's Thursday night, series finale lineup and finished the game 2-for-4 with a solo home run, three runs and one RBI. Rijo also had a home run, but his was a game tying, two-run blast in the seventh that locked the game up at 3-3. Rijo went 2-for-4 with two RBIs while hitting eighth for the Mudcats. Whalen was Carolina's nine hitter and finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and the game winning RBI in the final frame. Wilson, Rijo and Whalen, Carolina's seven, eight and nine hitters combined for six of their club's eight hits in the game.
Dash reliever Mick VanVossen (BS, 2) suffered a blown save after allowing Rijo's game tying homer in the seventh and Louie Lechich later took the loss after allowing Whalen's game winning hit in the ninth. Lechich (2-6, 2.47) pitched a scoreless eighth before facing three in the ninth where he gave up two hits and the game winning run.
Eric Hanhold pitched the ninth for Carolina and earned the victory after holding the Dash scoreless. Hanhold (8-3, 4.00) struck out three in the final frame and stranded two while keeping the game tied at 3-3.
Brad Kuntz worked the seventh and eighth following starter Zack Brown and allowed a home run to Bryant Flete in the seventh. Brown worked through six in his start and allowed two runs on eight hits over six innings pitched. He also struck out four and neither he nor Dash starter A.J. Puckett earned a decision.
Puckett also worked through six in his start and finished with just one run allowed on four hits. He also walked one and struck out four in his quality outing.
Flete, Jameson Fisher, Seby Zavala and Sam Dexter each had two hits in the game and combined for eight of Winston-Salem's 11 hits in the loss. Flete drove in two and hit a solo home run off Kuntz in the seventh. Dexter had a RBI double in Winston-Salem's two run fifth and was 2-for-4 in the game.
UP NEXT: The Mudcats will continue their final home stand of the season on Friday night at Five County Stadium with game one of four versus the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Friday's game will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will feature post-game fireworks presented by Sears Home Services. The game will air on the Mudcats Radio Network, The Big Dawg 98.5 FM and online at carolinamudcats.com via TuneIn Radio. The game will also stream live via video on MiLB.tv.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.