HUNTSVILLE, AL. – The Huntsville Stars (5-2) relied on strong arms and even stronger bats to lead them to their fifth victory of the season and second consecutive win over the Carolina Mudcats (1-6).
Seven different starters accounted for the Stars 10 hits tonight. Chuckie Caufield hit his first home run of the season and the Stars' second with a solo shot in the second. Shortstop Matt Cline hit a deep single to center to score Erik Komatsu and put the Stars up 2-1.
They added two more runs in the fourth with help from a lead-off double by third baseman Steffan Wilson to score Komtasu again. Starting pitcher Dan Merklinger went hitless tonight but got on base thanks to a throwing error from opposing pitcher Lee Tabor. Wilson scored on the error, putting the Stars up 4-1.
The Mudcats seemed to make an attempt at a comeback in the top of the fifth, with a double from Denis Phipps to score shortstop Eric Eymann. That would be the last run on the board for Carolina, while the Stars managed to add two more on in the bottom of the sixth.
Starter Merklinger went 5.2 innings, giving up six hits on two runs. He struck out three and gave up a solo dinger to Cody Puckett. Reliever Donovan Hand went 1 inning, allowing just two hits and picking up a hold. The save went to lefty Lucas Luetge who shutdown the game for the last 2.1 innings.
Carolina starter James Avery took the loss in the short outing, lasting only 3.1 innings, giving up four runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out one.
The Stars and Mudcats face off again tomorrow for game three of the five game series. Carolina will look to RHP Dallas Buck (0-1, 7.94 ERA) to get them their second win of the season. Righty Jesus Sanchez (1-0, 3.00 ERA) will be on the mound for Huntsville.