FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Good news for the Carolina Mudcats is that they're in the pennant race in August.
And if they win the second-half race in the Carolina League's Southern Division they'll be in the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
They're currently in third place at 23-23, 2 1/2 games behind tonight's opponent from Myrtle Beach. The Pelicans won the first half, so if they win the division and the Mudcats take silver Carolina will be in the playoffs - although the entire best-of-3 would be on the Grand Strand. Carolina trails Winston-Salem by half a game.
Raleigh native Josh McElwee is a relief pitcher for the Mudcats.
Adam Plutko (3-6, 4.63) will start for Carolina against Sam Wolff (7-4, 3.21).
The Mudcats just have a rough night at the plate tonight, dropping an otherwise well-played game 5-1.
Myrtle Beach quickly takes the lead in the first. Chris Garia leads off with a single, and with one out Preston Beck walks before the runners advance on a wild pitch. With two out Nick Williams hits an RBI double to right, with Beck scoring on a fielding error to Yhoxian Medina at short.
The Pelicans take it to 3-0 in the third, as Beck leads off with a single and scores on Williams' fielder's choice to short.
Carolina gets its run in the sixth off Justin Sprenger. Yandy Diaz is hit by a pitch, followed by Jerrud Sabourin's single. Diaz later scores on Todd Hankins' one-out fielder's choice to second.
Myrtle Beach puts it away in the eighth off Benny Suarez. Royce Bollinger leads off with a double to right, and then with one out Lewis Brinson launches a 1-1 offering off the scoreboard in left.
Myrtle Beach finishes with 12 hits, and McElwee (2-0) earns the win with a perfect seventh inning.
Plutko lasts only four innings and takes the loss. Vick has two of the Mudcats' five singles.
They said it …
Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker: "Plutko threw too many pitches and I didn't think he commanded the zone very well. He got himself in trouble against a pretty good hitting team. ... Vick has been swinging the bat really well over the past week or so. And he's playing really, really good defense. ... Today was a tough day after getting back (from Frederick) at 4:30 a.m., but the guys are learning how to deal with that."
Vick: "I've changed up my stance a little bit and lowered my hands, which has allowed me to fire my backside. I really feel comfortable in the box right now. I'm getting good pitches to hit."
Plutko: "The goal is to go deep into games and give your team a chance to win. I felt like they were kind of comfortable in the box early, but after the first inning I tried to get them off-balance."
What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats are still half a game back of Winston-Salem.
Stars of the night
Play of the night
Vick's throw from right field to get Edwin Garcia at the plate and complete a fourth-inning double play.
Mudcats: Lost 4.
Myrtle Beach: Won 1.
Myrtle Beach leads 10-5.
Mudcats (D.J. Brown 2-6, 4.75) vs. Myrtle Beach (Ryan Bores 0-3, 2.48), Saturday, 6 p.m.