FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats have the Carolina League's best record in the second half after having its worst in the first.
But tonight they'll try to break a two-game skid.
It's the middle of a three-game home series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, who could take over first place in the Northern Division with a win.
Cole Sulser (3-9, 5.05) will take on the Rocks' Glenn Sparkman (6-2, 1.43) in a battle of right-handers.
Wilmington has a couple of familiar faces, as closer Mark Peterson is an alumnus of Sanderson High while hitting coach Milt Thompson played for the legendary 1980 Durham Bulls.
It's a back-and-forth contest all night, but the visitors get a run in the 10th and escape with a 7-6 decision.
Wilmington strikes in the first as Raul Mondesi hits a one-out double to right and scores on Bubba Starling's single to left.
But the Mudcats respond with a couple in the bottom of the frame. Yhoxian Medina singles with one out, advancing on a balk before LeVon Washington is safe on an error to Sparkman. Yandy Diaz picks up the RBI on a grounder to short before Jeremy Lucas makes it 2-1 on a double to right.
The Blue Rocks tie it in the fourth as Bubba Starling leads off with a double to left, advances on Mark Threlkeld's single to right and scores on Jared Schlehuber's one-out fly to center. Mudcats skipper Scooter Tucker is ejected at the end of the half-inning.
But Carolina takes the lead again in the bottom. Alex Monsalve leads off with a double and later scores when James Roberts reaches on a fielder's choice. Medina makes it 4-2 with an RBI single off third base to score Roberts.
Wilmington comes back to take the lead in the fifth and chase Sulser. Mondesi hits a two-run double and Starling an RBI single, and Michael Antonio later greets Jacob Lee with a single up the middle to make it 6-4.
The Mudcats aren't dead yet. In the bottom of the frame against Aroni Nina, Monsalve singles and later scores on a wild pitch. Roberts hits a one-out single, and after Logan Vick walks Yhoxian Medina hits an RBI single to third to tie the score and chase Nina.
In the 10th, Starling jumps on the first pitch from Grant Sides for a triple to right center. Michael Antonio rips a sac fly to center to score Starling with the winner.
Mark Peterson pitches the bottom of the frame for his 22nd save of the season.
They said it …
Mudcats hitting coach Tony Mansolino: "Everybody has a (nemesis), it seems. Lynchburg has played us a bunch of times this year and they're trying to figure out why they can't beat us. In every league you have teams you go back and forth with. We came in trying to win the series and that's over. If we can go in there and win one game tomorrow we'll be happy."
Mudcats center fielder Todd Hankins: "We got down early and came back, but we couldn't get a run up in the bottom of the ninth and they ended up scoring in the 10th. We just weren't able to tie it up. We've been playing well as a team and putting things together. We just weren't able to do it in the late innings tonight."
What does it all mean?
That Wilmington takes over first place in its division while the Mudcats are two ahead of Myrtle Beach in the Southern.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Mudcats: Lost 3.
Wilmington: Won 3.
Wilmington leads 14-5.
Mudcats (Ryan Merritt 10-3, 2.13) vs. Wilmington (Jonathan Dziedzic 5-5, 2.60)