FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats have been playing well for the last month, and today they seek a pretty important win.

Carolina Mudcats outfielder Sean Danielson
  • Photo by Nikolaus © 2010 Carolina Mudcats
  • Carolina Mudcats outfielder Sean Danielson

If they can defeat the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx, that will give them three out of five in the five-game series before Carolina hits the road for Jacksonville to start a 10-game road trip.

A win would give the Mudcats their fifth straight series victory after a horrible April that included an 11-game losing streak.

It’s sunny and very warm in front of a decent crowd on Memorial Day eve.

Matt Fairel, the lefty out of Florida State who was 5-1, 3.04 at Lynchburg, makes his Double-A debut for the Mudcats today. The Jaxx send Steve Bray (1-3) to the hill.

From the start, it’s a pretty good exhibition on how to play the game correctly. And the Jaxx turn out to be just a bit better at it, claiming the series with a 3-2 win.

The Mudcats go up 1-0 in the third as Sean Danielson leads off with a double to left, takes second on a passed ball and scores on Jose Castro’s one-out single up the middle.

West Tenn evens it on three hits in the fifth, as UNC alumnus Dustin Ackley leads off with a single to left center and scores on Brandon Haveman’s one-out single up the middle.

The Mudcats go up again when Devin Mesoraco, the catcher who was the Reds’ first-round pick in 2007, leads off the fifth by rocketing a 2-2 pitch over the left-field wall.

But the Jaxx even it in the sixth as Carlos Peguero draws a leadoff walk and scores on Jose Yepez’s two-out single to left, and then take the lead with one out in the seventh as Leury Bonilla blasts a one-out, 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall.

The Mudcats’ ninth is odd, as Kris Negron leads off with a double when right fielder Lo Kuo Hui can’t find the ball in the sun and then West Tenn manager Tim Laker is ejected for not calling a foul tip for strike three against Danielson, who proceeds to strike out anyway. But Negron is stranded at third and the visitors hold on.

Bray allows two runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no walks over eight innings.

Fairel goes seven in the loss, giving up the three runs on six hits with four strikeouts to three walks in the quality-start debut. Bonilla and the Mudcats’ Brandon Yarbrough, who doubles and singles, have the only multiple-hit games.

They said it …

Mudcats manager David Bell: “It was a close game and we gave ourselves a chance. Fairel pitched well and we gave ourselves a chance to win. He and Mesoraco work together well. I have a feeling Mesoraco is going to hold his own. He’s going to be good. He’s come a long ways and is highly regarded in the organization.”

Fairel: “I was pleased to be able to go seven innings and keep the team in the game. That’s always a good outing. The hitters are better at this level, but I just need to trust my stuff and I was able to do that today and had success. I’ve thrown to Devin the last 5-6 outings as well as last year, I knew what to expect and he called a good game.”

Mesoraco: “It was definitely a good game for me. I wish we could have gotten a win, but from my standpoint I thought I caught a good game. And had a good hit there. I caught a slider in the middle of the plate and put a good swing on it. I’ve caught Fairel a few times. He’s a guy who isn’t scared to go after people. He throws a lot of strikes.”

What does it all mean?

That the Jaxx are three games behind first-place Tennessee in the SL North, and that the Mudcats are still playing good baseball.

Play of the game
Bonilla’s homer.

Stars of the game

1. Bray.
2. Bonilla.
3. Fairel.

Season series
West Tenn leads 3-2.

Carolina: Lost 2.
West Tenn: Won 2.


Carolina: none.
West Tenn: none.

On deck
Mudcats at Jacksonville, Monday, 1:05 p.m.

Travis Webb (L, 2-2, 4.39) vs. Elih Villanueva (R, 4-3, 2.69)

West Tenn at Chattanooga, Monday, 5:15 p.m.
Mauricio Robles (L, 3-2, 3.77) vs. Jesus Castillo (R, 2-5, 2.44)