Another walk-off loss for P-Nats

p-natsDespite a change in venue, though remaining in the state of North Carolina, the Potomac Nationals (17-15) could not avoid extra innings, as for the fourth straight game, the P-Nats went passed nine frames. In their first matchup with the Winston-Salem Dash (13-22) in 2016, the P-Nats rallied from a one-run deficit on four different occasions but never led, as the Dash came away with a victory on a walk-off single by CF Adam Engel in the 11th inning.

After playing 10 innings in each of the three games vs. the Carolina Mudcats, the P-Nats trailed just one inning into the first of a four-game series vs. the Dash. In the first inning, RHP Phillips Valdez (ND) allowed a leadoff single to Engel, who scored two batters later on 3B Gerson Montilla’s RBI single. Against RHP Jordan Stephens (ND), the Nationals tied the game in the second inning on a double by C Raudy Read and a two-out RBI single by LF Alec Keller.

The trend of the Dash scoring and Potomac scoring in the next half inning continued, and that occurrence totaled four by the end of the night. The Dash plated a run in the bottom of the fourth inning on an RBI groundout by 2B Toby Thomas. Potomac answered in the fifth on a sacrifice fly turned double play by CF Andrew Stevenson, in which 2B Bryan Mejia was doubled off for not touching second base after rounding it and heading back to first base.

The Dash took a 3-2 lead in the home half of the sixth inning on back-to-back two-out doubles by C Brett Austin and Thomas, but the P-Nats answered yet again vs. Stephens. In the seventh, 3B Drew Ward led off with a double and DH Khayyan Norfork, in his first game off of the disabled list, flared a single into right field, which plated Ward and tied the game at three.

Valdez returned for the bottom half of the seventh and issued a leadoff walk to Engel, who moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by RF Hunter Jones. Montilla put the Dash back on top with his second RBI single of the night, which ended Valdez’s outing. The Potomac starter went 6.1 innings, gave up four runs, and did not strike out a batter for the first time this season. Stephens meanwhile went a season high seven innings and recorded his first quality start as he allowed just three runs.

Out of the pen, RHP Connor Walsh allowed a run in the eighth inning. After SS Osvaldo Abreu struck out, 1B Jose Marmolejos tripled into the gap in right-centerfield. After Walsh struck out Keller, Ward stepped in and without taking the bat off of his shoulder, saw the tying run score, as Austin was charged with a passed ball that plated Marmolejos. The score remained 4-4 until the 11th.

In relief of Valdez, LHP RC Orlan escaped trouble in the seventh and worked a perfect eighth frame. RHP Dakota Bacus (L, 0-2) was the third pitcher of the night for Potomac, and the righty set down the first six that he faced over the ninth and 10th frames. But Bacus walked Austin to start the 10th, struck out Thomas, walked SS Cleuluis Rondon, and then gave up the game-winning single to Engel, a line shot down the left field line. The victory went to LHP Andre Wheeler (W, 2-0), who allowed two hits and struck out one over two innings.

With now four straight games that have gone beyond the requisite nine innings, the P-Nats will turn to RHP Wirkin Estevez (0-2, 4.74). For the Dash, RHP Spencer Adams (3-2, 4.38) will take the mound looking to tally Winston-Salem’s second straight victory. First pitch is set for 6:30pm at BB&T Ballpark.

The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network will carry live coverage of the game beginning with the “P-Nats Lead-Off Show” at 6:15pm. P-Nats Gameday Audio on the Potomac Nationals Baseball Network is available at www.potomacnationals.com or via the TuneIn Radio App.

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