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ZEBULON — The offense of the Carolina Mudcats had no trouble showing off its power Tuesday afternoon against the Lynchburg Hillcats at Five County Stadium.
Pat McInerney was 3 for 5 with a double and a three-run homer in the second inning, and Devin Hairston was 3 for 3 with a triple and solo homer as the Mudcats used a 16-hit onslaught to cruise to a 13-2 victory.
The Mudcats (51-38, 12-8 second half), now the owners of a season-best six-game winning streak, temporarily moved a half game ahead of the Down East Wood Ducks in the Carolina League’s Southern Division.
Lynchburg dropped to 43-44 in all games and 11-9 in the second half.
McInerney and Hairston supplied the early punch with the long ball in the second as the Mudcats grabbed a 4-0 lead. McInerney launched his sixth homer of the year to left center to score Mario Feliciano and Rob Henry, and Hairston, the No. 8 hitter, poked a solo homer over the right-field wall.
Lynchburg pushed across a run in the top of the third on Tyler Freeman’s double, but that was only the precursor to a eight-run deluge by the Mudcats in the bottom half.
Payton Henry steered his 10th homer of the year, a three-run shot, to right field, and Hairston followed with a two-run triple to make it 9-1 Mudcats.
Hairston touched home on Wes Rogers’ ground-rule double.
The Mudcats sent 14 men to the plate in the half inning, with Henry returning to the box and coaxing out a bases-loaded walk to send Carolina up 12-1. Two batters earlier, Tristen Lutz lofted a sacrifice fly into center field that allowed Rogers to touch home.
McInerney supplied his fourth RBI in the fifth with his single that scored Ryan Aguilar.
Phil Bickford won in relief for the Mudcats, working three innings and allowing two hits. He struck out three and walked one. Matt Hardy started for the Mudcats and allowed seven hits over four innings in a no-decision.
Left-hander Juan Hillman (3-9) was charged with the loss for Lynchburg, allowing eight hits and 10 earned runs over 2 1/3 innings. The Hillcats had 11 hits, but left nine runners aboard and produced a 2-for-11 showing with runners in scoring position. Conversely, the Mudcats were 6 for 12.
Carolina begins a six-game road swing Wednesday at Frederick beginning at 7 p.m. The Mudcats won’t return home until July 17, when they face the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.