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.
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 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.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Talk about a must-win situation.
The Carolina Mudcats are facing one in their final regular-season home game, which will be their final home game of the season if they don’t work a miracle.
The Mudcats are in third place in the Carolina League’s Southern Division, five games behind the first-place Salem Red Sox who visit tonight for the finale of their three-game series. Both teams have eight games left in the season.
Salem has won the first two, but more importantly eight of its last 10 games while the Mudcats are 3-7 over the same span. So if Carolina wants to go from the worst team in baseball in the first half to a spot in the Mills Cup Playoffs, the Mudcats have got to get cracking. Now.
Shawn Morimando (8-12, 3.41) will take on the Red Sox’ Mike Augliera (8-6, 4.40) in a battle of lefties.
Tonight Salem puts what is likely the penultimate nail in the coffin, winning 6-4 in 12 innings.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats are right in the race for a playoff spot as the season goes into its stretch run.
In fact, if the season started today Carolina — which was the losingest team in Organized Baseball in the first half — would have a Mills Cup Playoff spot.
But as long as they stay in second-place behind the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, there’s a problem. They would have to play the entire Southern Division series on the road.
Heading into the three-game series that starts tonight on a warm evening, the Pelicans have a 2 1/2-game pad over the second-place Mudcats with Salem four out.
The Mudcats have had a pair of key callups to Akron, as center fielder Tyler Naquin and pitcher Cody Anderson are now in the Eastern League. Tonight’s starting pitcher Cole Cook is down from Akron, while center fielder Logan Vick will make his Carolina League debut following his callup from Lake County in the Midwest League.
Southpaw Luis Parra (0-0, 3.00) will go for the Pelicans.
This is an easy one for Carolina, as three pitchers combine for the 7-0 shutout.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Even with a two-game losing streak and coming off a wrong-way shutout, the Carolina Mudcats are in first place in the Carolina League’s Southern Division with less than a month left in the season.
That’s a far cry, of course, from their worst record in baseball in the first half of the campaign.
Tonight’s opponent is another playoff contender, the Potomac Nationals who lead the Northern Division by six games and have the best record in the league.
Southpaw Shawn Morimando (7-10, 3.07) goes for the Mudcats against Paul Demny (0-0, 3.86) on a pleasantly warm evening.
Despite striking out 19 times, the Mudcats take advantage of three key Potomac errors to pick up an unlikely 5-3 win.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The second half of the season sure hasn’t been like the first half was for the Carolina Mudcats.
David Wallace’s team went 22-48 over the first half of the season, finishing last in the Carolina League with one of the worst records in baseball.
But in the second half, the Mudcats have been contenders.
Carolina is currently solidly in second place — and in a presumptive playoff spot — in the CL’s Southern Division with a 21-16 mark. Tonight they’ll open a three-game series with the Frederick Keys, with Nick Pasquale (3-6, 4.31) taking on Frederick southpaw Trent Howard (3-0, 1.78).
Tonight the Mudcats put up crooked numbers in the sixth and seventh innings, rolling to a 9-5 win and moving to within a half game of first-place Myrtle Beach.
Going into tonight’s hot game against in-state rival Winston-Salem the Mudcats are just one game below .500 in the second half, in third place in the Southern Division with a half-game lead over the Dash. The last time the Muddies were at .500 in a half was on April 15.
Carolina is coming off a thriller from Thursday night, a 5-2 win on Bryson Myles’ walk-off homer in the 14th.
Southpaw Shawn Morimando (5-9, 3.03) will take on the Dash’s Bryan Blough (8-6, 4.47).
The Mudcats get the job done, recording their sixth shutout of the season and third of the half in a 4-0 victory.