FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON It’s Game 2 of yet another series between the host Carolina Mudcats and the Jacksonville Suns, and once again it’s very important to both teams.

Mudcats infielder Jose Castro
  • Photo by Nikolaus © 2010 Carolina Mudcats
  • Mudcats infielder Jose Castro

The Mudcats are just two games out of first in the Southern League’s North Division, while the Suns — who won their division in the first half — are just half a game out in the South.

It should be a pretty good pitchers’ duel, as Matt Fairel (5-3) takes the hill for the Mudcats against league victory leader Tom Koehler (12-2). And it’s “Thirsty Thursday,” with discount beverages for all.

The pitchers’ duel materializes, and the Mudcats finally score two in the ninth to trump Jacksonville’s one in the top of the frame to win 3-2.

The Mudcats get a marker with two out in the first as Dave Sappelt hits a sinking liner to center for a single and Mike Costanzo follows with an RBI double off the right-field wall.

Jacksonville ties it in the fifth as John Otness doubles to center, advances on Koehler’s bunt and scores on Lorenzo Scott’s single to left.

It stays right there until the ninth, when the Suns get a go-ahead run off Jesus Delgado. Vinny Rottino leads off with a single to left and takes third on Lee Mitchell’s double to right. With one out Brandon Tripp draws an intentional walk, followed by Otness’ fielder’s-choice ball to second to score Rottino.

But the Mudcats respond in the bottom, as Sappelt greets Jose Ceda by rocketing a 1-0 pitch off the left-field scoreboard. With two out, Sean Henry doubles to left, followed by an intentional walk to Brandon Yarbrough and a four-pitch walk to pinch hitter Luis Terrero. Jose Castro then comes to the plate and lifts an 0-2 fastball off the base of the wall in right for the winning single and set off a big team celebration in center field.

Sappelt, who is hitting .356, leads the Mudcats with three hits and scores twice, while Henry has two doubles and scores the other run. Fairel gets the quality start, going six and allowing a run on three hits with four strikeouts and three walks. Delgado (1-0) collects the win.

Koehler goes seven innings, giving up a run on five hits with six strikeouts against two walks.

They said it …

Mudcats manager David Bell: “Castro’s a good hitter. Of course we pinch-hit Terrero, but we also like Castro in that situation. Any time you get a game-winner, those mean so much. He really hit that ball good. That was a great game — those are a lot of fun. We’ve had a few of those especially at home. Sappelt has had such a great season. It’s pretty special when you can stay consistent as long as he has this season.”

Castro: “It was my biggest hit of the season by far. I saw he threw three bad pitches to Terrero and I thought ‘Maybe I’m the man.’ I know Ceda has a hard fastball so I thought maybe he was going to throw me a fastball. He threw me a bunch of fastballs in a row. I just want with the last one and that was it.”

Sappelt: “I hit a fastball, middle-in. I was looking for it, threw the bat out there and hoped it connected. Castro loves hard-throwing fastball guys and has a quick bat. He can hit it, and something good was going to happen if he didn’t hit it right at somebody.”

What does it all mean?
That for the second straight night, both teams keep pace with the division leaders.

Stars of the game
1. Sappelt.
2. Castro.
3. Fairel.

Play of the game
Castro’s game-winning hit.

Season series
Jacksonville leads 13-10.


Carolina: Won 1.
Jacksonville: Lost 1.


Carolina: RHP Matt Klinker assigned from Louisville. IF Eric Eymann activated from disabled list. OF Felix Perez placed on disabled list. RHP Daryl Thompson placed on disabled list.
Jacksonville: None.

On deck
Jacksonville at Mudcats, 7:15 p.m.

Jose Rosario (R, 3-2, 3.56) vs. Matt Klinker (R, 5-4, 1.75)