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ZEBULON — To close out a six-game home stand, the Carolina Mudcats beat the Wilmington Blue Rocks 2-1 in a pitcher’s duel at Five County Stadium.
In the top of first inning, Wilmington (44-25, 16-15 second half) jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the third hitter of the night Brewer Hicklen homered to right center field. Despite the early bomb, things slowed down dramatically for the away team.
Over the course of the next 26 at-bats that followed, the Blue Rocks did not score again and managed just one more hit the rest of the game after drumming up two in the first inning.
Mudcats’ starter Matt Smith settled down after the first inning, picking up the victory after five innings of work. After giving up all three Wilmington hits on the night, Smith exited with eight strikeouts, one walk and his fourth victory of the season.
The committee of J.T. Hintzen and Justin Topa, who captured the save, closed out the final four scoreless innings allowing no runs, hits or walks and striking out a batter each.
The winning hits for the Mudcats (55-46, 16-16 second half), two of six on the night, came in the bottom of the fourth inning. With no outs and a runner on, catcher Mario Feliciano triped on a line drive to center field that scored Tristen Lutz.
Later that inning, Ryan Aguilar singled to score Feliciano — giving his team the lead for good. Wilmington starter Kris Bubic was saddled with the loss after giving up four hits and two runs in 4 2/3 innings pitched. After the fourth inning, the Mudcats accumulated just two more hits the rest of the way — both which came in the sixth inning.
In the final three innings, neither team had a hit.
After a lengthy home stand that split six contests evenly, the Mudcats will be on the road until July 28, traveling to the Down East Wood Ducks and Fayetteville Woodpeckers.