Mudcats

Ponce tosses eight inning gem while leading Mudcats to fourth-straight win

Posted May 13

Cody Ponce struck out seven over a career high eight innings, Isan Diaz and Lucas Erceg both hit solo home runs and Jake Gatewood extended his hitting streak to 22 straight games with a two-run double as the Mudcats won their fourth straight game, 4-3, against the Dash on Saturday evening at Five County Stadium.

The victory lifted the Mudcats (17-18) to a two games to none series lead and series victory versus the Dash (12-24). It also extended their season high winning streak to four straight games.

Ponce (3-3, 3.48) struck out seven and allowed just one run on seven hits over a career high eight innings pitched. It was also his fourth quality start of the season and was his fifth start where he was able to work through at least the seventh inning. Ponce finished his eight frames at 94 pitches with 72 of which going for strikes.

The only blemish of Ponce’s start came in the second when he gave up a solo home run to Telvin Nash. The home run was Nash’s second and came in just his second game of the season. It also gave the Dash the early 1-0 lead.

Winston-Salem’s 1-0 lead disappeared later in the fourth when Diaz tied the game with a solo home run off Dash starter Brannon Easterling. The line drive blast to right tied the game at 1-1 and was Diaz’s sixth home run of the season.

Gatewood later broke the tie with a two-run double with two outs in the sixth, before Erceg added one more with a solo home run in the seventh.

Easterling allowed Gatewood’s double and reliever Andre Wheeler was on the mound for the seventh when Erceg hit his solo shot to right. Easterling (2-2, 3.11) worked through six innings and allowed three runs on four hits while striking out seven. Wheeler worked the seventh and eighth and finished with a run allowed on just two hits. He also walked two and struck out two.

Gatewood was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and extended his current hitting streak to 22 consecutive games. He is now one game shy of matching the Mudcats franchise for consecutive games with a hit. The record is 23 games and was set by Bryson Myles in 2013 (7/15-8/11/13).

Erceg’s home run in the seventh lifted the Mudcats to a 4-1 lead and was his third homer of the season. He finished the game at 1-for-4 with a run and a RBI. Wendell Rijo and Corey Ray also had a hit and were 1-for-3 and 1-for-4 respectively.

Erceg’s homer in the seventh proved to be the difference as the Dash later rallied for two runs in the ninth to cut the lead down to 4-3.

Nate Griep (S, 4) pitched the final frame and managed to earn his fourth save despite giving up two runs on two hits in the ninth. He eventually got out of the inning and finished the game by getting Daniel Gonzalez to pop into a game ending double play. Gonzalez popped out to shallow left and pinch runner Johan Cruz was eventually caught off first for the game ending twin killing.

UP NEXT: The Mudcats and Dash will wrap up the three game series on Sunday afternoon with the first pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at Five County Stadium. The Mudcats lead the series 2-0 and will send starter Marcos Diplan to the mound for the series finale as they look for a three game sweep.

Sunday’s game will air on the Mudcats Radio Network, The Big Dawg 98.5 FM, carolinamudcats.com via TuneIn Radio and on MiLB.tv. Coverage will begin at 1:45 p.m. with the Mudcats Pregame Show.

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