P-Nats fall 11-10 in first half finale

Despite erasing a five-run deficit, the Potomac Nationals (33-37) fell in the final game of the first half 11-10 to the Carolina Mudcats (36-32). The Mudcats tallied three home runs on a windy day at Five County Stadium, while a grand slam from Potomac 2B Bryan Mejia was not enough in a contest that took nearly 3:30 to play.

p-natsCarolina got good starting pitching to begin the game from RHP Marcos Diplan (ND), as the righty retired the first nine men that he faced. After three perfect frames, Diplan fell apart, as he allowed two runs in the fourth inning and another three in the fifth frame.

Before Potomac got on the board, the Mudcats tagged RHP Luis Reyes (ND) for four runs in the second inning and another run in the third. An RBI single from C Cooper Hummel in the second inning put the Mudcats on top 1-0, while RF Brandon Diaz tallied his first hit of the season with a three-run home run two batters later. In the third inning, LF Troy Stokes Jr. led off the frame with a home run, as Carolina took a 5-0 lead into the fourth inning.

The P-Nats scratched a pair of runs across in the top of the fourth inning. CF Victor Robles led off with a single and later scored on an RBI groundout by 3B Ian Sagdal. 1B Matt Page drew a two-out walk, and SS David Masters pulled the P-Nats within two runs with an RBI single. With two men on and two outs, LF Dale Carey struck out, as Potomac trailed 5-2 halfway through the game.

The Red, White, & Blue tied the game in the fifth inning. After the first two men reached against Diplan, Robles made it 5-3 with a sacrifice fly. DH Jack Sundberg drew a walk, which put the tying man on base. Sagdal tied the game with a two-run double, though Potomac stranded him at third base.

Reyes returned for the fifth inning but failed to record an out in the inning. The right-handed starter walked each of the first three men that he faced, while1B Weston Wilson made it 7-5 Carolina with a two run single to left field. RHP Tyler Skulina (L, 1-1) entered for Reyes and worked out of the jam, as he stranded two inherited baserunners.

With one swing of the bat in the top of the sixth inning, the P-Nats took their only lead of the night. RHP Conor Harber entered in relief of Diplan and had major struggles with his command. Harber walked both RF Rhett Wiseman and Carey, while C Matt Reistetter reached on a bunt single. With the bases loaded, Mejia fouled off three straight two-strike pitches before he deposited a grand slam over the short wall in right field. Mejia’s grand slam put the P-Nats on top 9-7.

The Mudcats immediately answered with a four-run sixth inning of their own. DH Lucas Erceg pulled Carolina within one run with a one-out RBI double against Skulina, while Wilson hit a three-run home run, which made it 11-9 in favor of Carolina. Wilson finished the game with a season high five RBIs.

LHP Quintin Torres-Costa (W, 6-2) recorded the final out of the sixth inning with a bases loaded strikeout. Torres-Costa then struck out the side in the seventh inning, but allowed Potomac back into the game in the eighth frame. Robles led off with a walk, Sundberg doubled, and Sagdal tallied his fourth RBI of the day with a sacrifice fly. After Page struck out looking, Masters took a called third strike as Sundberg tried to steal home. That was Potomac’s last gasp, as the P-Nats went in order in the ninth and fell 11-10.

Off of a series split, the P-Nats will head into the All-Star break. RHP Ronald Pena, C Taylor Gushue, CF Victor Robles, and 3B Kelvin Gutierrez have all been named to the Northern Division roster.

The 2017 Carolina League All-Star Game takes place on June 20th at Haley Toyota Field in Salem, VA. The 2017 All-Star game marks the first season that will not include the California League in All-Star festivities. For tickets or more information, visit salemsox.com.