Carolina, which is in third place in the Carolina League's Southern Division and 6 1/2 games behind Myrtle Beach, won the opener of their four-game series on Friday night and have seven more games left against the Pelicans with 25 games left in the first half.
Tonight, Carolina ace Shawn Morimando (5-2, 3.83) will take on the Pelicans' Sam Wolff (4-3, 3.06). Carolina hitting coach Tony Mansolino is managing in place of Scooter Tucker, who has taken a short personal leave.
And on this night the Pelicans get the best of it, scoring four runs in the seventh inning in a 6-2 win.
Tonight is Game 3 of a four-game set against the Louisville Bats, the Cincinnati Reds' affiliate which is in third place in the West Division. The teams have split their first two meetings, and will square off again in Mid-June at Louisville Slugger Field.
Merrill Kelly (4-1, 2.47) will square off with the Bats' Wang Chien-Ming (3-4, 4,79) on a cool spring evening.
The teams go toe-to-toe for 10 innings, but the Bats' Felix Perez wins it 4-3 with a triple in the extra frame.
Of course that’s par for the course for a team that’s made the playoffs 12 times in its 16 seasons in the league.
Tonight is Game 3 of a four-game set with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, erm, RailRiders. The former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and Empire State Yankees are managed by Dave Miley, who will get a well-deserved induction into the International League Hall of Fame in June.
Nathan Karns (2-2, 8.02) will go for the Bulls against Alfredo Aceves, who is in his first start for the RailRiders this season.
And those starters are long forgotten by the time the game ends. The teams combine for 30 hits and 33 strikeouts — 18 of them by Bulls’ pitching — as the RailRiders win 10-8 in 13 innings.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Checking in on the Carolina Mudcats, who are off to a 1-1 start heading into their first Saturday night home game of the season.
It’s Game 3 for new skipper Scooter Tucker against the Potomac Nationals - the current affiliates of the Washington Nationals, of course — who were long ago known as the Prince William Pirates.
The Nationals have an area product in left fielder Will Piwnica-Worms, who was a non-drafted free agent out of Duke following the 2012 season.
The Mudcats need just three hits, getting great pitching all night in a 3-1 victory.
The place has undergone a $20 million renovation since last season, with a revamped entry plaza, a massive new video board inside the left-field “Blue Monster” and a huge club-level lounge behind home plate.
Manager Charlie Montoyo is back for his eighth season as the Bulls begin defense of their Governors’ Cup title against the South Division rival Gwinnett Braves. Gwinnett is managed for the first time by Brian Snitker, who was Durham’s Class A skipper in 1983-84 and ’87.
Nathan Karns (10-6, 3.26 at Harrisburg last season) will go against Gwinnett’s Gavin Floyd (0-4, 5.18) who is here on Major League rehab.
And the Bulls turn out to be up to the task tonight, recovering from a four-run deficit to nip the visitors 7-6.
The Durham Bulls, who have billed themselves as “America’s Favorite Minor League Team,” play at the Triple-A level, just one step from the Major League show.
In their 17th season as the top affiliates of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Bulls are defending Governors Cup Champions and during their run have won that title four times plus one National Championship.
The Carolina Mudcats play in the storied Class A-Advanced Carolina League, where they have been for the past three seasons. The CL is known as a place that separates the wheat from the chaff and the men from the boys among minor-league prospects.
And as the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians, the Mudcats inherited a long winning tradition from when the team was known as the Kinston Indians.
Durham Bulls Athletic Park is due for a grand re-opening after a $20 million renovation, while the Mudcats’ Five County Stadium has a reputation as one of the best facilities in A-ball.
There will be high hopes all around as the teams open their seasons at home about 10 minutes apart.
Nathan Karns (10-6, 3.26 at Harrisburg in ’13) will take the mound at 6:05 for the Bulls against the Gwinnett Braves, skippered by long-ago former Bulls manager Brian Snitker. Gavin Floyd (0-4, 5.18 at Atlanta) is set to start for the G-Braves.
And the Mudcats will play their first game under new manager Scooter Tucker, who was at Lake County of the Midwest League last season. 2013 Mudcats manager David Wallace is now managing Double-A Akron.
Mudcats lefty Shawn Morimando (8-13, 3.73 in ’13) is set to fire his first pitch against the Potomac Nationals at 6:15.