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Ponce pitches Mudcats to series-clinching victory

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Aug, 20 2017, 6:50 PM

Cody Ponce pitched into the eighth with five strikeouts and just one run allowed on three hits, both Lucas Erceg and Cooper Hummel had RBI doubles and Nate Griep earned his league leading 25th save as the Mudcats took the rubber game of a three game series, 3-1 versus the Keys on Sunday at Five County Stadium.

Ponce (8-8, 3.45) faced the minimum through three and allowed just two hits over the first five innings while leading the Mudcats (62-63, 26-31) to the series clinching victory. He also pitched to a 76 game score while striking out five, walking two and scattering three hits.

Franderlin Romero started for the Keys (58-66, 27-28) and took the loss after allowing three runs (one earned) on just two hits over four innings pitched. Romero (1-5, 6.44) also walked one and struck out four.

Erceg put the Mudcats up first in the game after lifting a RBI double to left with two outs in the opening frame. Lead off man Trent Clark scored on the double after earlier reaching on a walk to start the Carolina half of the first.

The 1-0 Carolina lead held through the third until the Mudcats brought across two in the fourth while going up 3-0. Hummel started the scoring in the fourth with a two-out RBI double that scored Monte Harrison from first. Luis Aviles then followed by reaching on an error at third, which then allowed Hummel in from second.

The Mudcats had a 3-0 lead through the seventh, but Ponce and the Carolina bullpen ended up allowing a Frederick run in the eighth as the Keys pulled within two of the lead.

The late Frederick rally kicked into high gear after Drew Turbin reached on a potential fly out to right that was lost in the sun by Corey Ray. The resulting double put Turbin at second and moved Shane Hoelscher (who had walked earlier) to third. Ponce left after the misplay in right and Brad Kuntz followed out of the bullpen.

Kuntz faced only two batters and left after walking one and allowing a bases loaded single to Ademar Rifaela. The run scoring hit scored Hoelscher from third, but only plated one run despite hitting off the wall in right. Ray played the ball back in quickly enough to hold the Keys to just the one run on Rifaela’s hit. Ray came through again moments later with sliding catch in right for the inning’s second out. It was also the first out recorded by Griep (S, 25) as he took over for Kuntz with the bases full and with one out in the eighth.

Griep went on to finish the eighth with a come-backer to the mound from Yermin Mercedes and later induced a double play in the ninth to finish the game.

Carolina took the series two games to one and finished at 9-9 on the season versus the Keys. The series win was Carolina’s second straight as they also recently took three out of four against the Wood Ducks.

UP NEXT: The Mudcats are off on Monday, August 21, but will be back in action again on Tuesday, August 22 in Winston-Salem for game one of a three game series versus the Dash. Tuesday’s game is also the first of Carolina’s final road trip of the season as the Mudcats will play three games in Winston-Salem and three in Myrtle Beach. Tuesday’s 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.

web_editor : Marilyn Payne