Carolina avoids shutout, but P-Nats win 4-1

p-natsOne out away from a shutout, the Potomac Nationals (57-45, 23-11) surrendered a run on a bases loaded walk in the ninth inning, but picked up a victory as RHP Gilberto Mendez (SV, 6) struck out SS Luis Valenzuela with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Friday night. The Carolina Mudcats (41-64, 12-23) left the tying runs on base, as the P-Nats won 4-1, their third straight victory.

In his return to the P-Nats, RHP Dakota Bacus (W, 1-2) allowed only three hits over five-shutout innings. Only one man reached scoring position against the righty, as Bacus struck out a season high seven. Bacus scattered singles to 1B Sal Giardina in the first inning, Valenzuela in the third inning, and Giardina again in the fourth frame, and only once did the Mudcats have multiple base runners on against him.

Opposite Bacus, RHP Caleb Beech (L, 2-5) muscled his way through 6.1 innings and saved a depleted Carolina bullpen. 1B Jose Marmolejos led off the second inning with a double, and after Beech retired the next two Potomac hitters, 3B Bryan Mejia put the P-Nats on top 1-0 with an RBI single. DH Austin Davidson then led off the third inning with a triple and scored on an RBI base hit by LF Alec Keller, who came home one batter later on an RBI double by SS Osvaldo Abreu, as Potomac led 3-0 after 2.5 innings. Beech allowed four runs on nine hits in the loss.

The P-Nats scored their final run in the seventh frame, as Abreu and 2B Max Schrock had consecutive one-out singles against Beech. Schrock’s lone hit of the night knocked the starter out of the game, as RHP Taylor Lewis entered and gave up a single to Marmolejos. RF Braxton Davidson misplayed Marmolejos’ base hit, which allowed Abreu to score, though the P-Nats left the bases loaded. Potomac took a 4-0 lead into the ninth inning.

In relief of Bacus, LHP Matthew Spann allowed three hits over two-shutout innings, while RHP Wirkin Estevez needed only five pitches in a perfect eighth inning. Estevez returned for the ninth looking to protect a four run lead, but he could not get through the frame. A one-out single by Giardina paired with a fielding error by Estevez put men at the corners. After Estevez struck out LF Ryan Gebhardt he walked 3B Jordan Edgerton, which loaded the bases. With the tying run at the plate, Potomac brought in Mendez who immediately walked C Tanner Murphy and gave Carolina its lone run. Mendez bounced back and struck out Valenzuela to end the game, as the Mudcats left the bases loaded and Potomac won 4-1.

Carolina had seven hits, all singles, four by Giardina. Four different Potomac starters had multiple hits, while Abreu led the way with three hits, and two doubles. The P-Nats left 11 men on base and went just 3-13 with RISP in the victory.

A season high 12 games over .500, the P-Nats look to make it four straight wins, as they will send RHP Erick Fedde (5-3, 3.35) to the hill Friday night. Fedde has allowed no more than one earned run in nine straight outings and is 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA over that stretch. Opposite the righty, Carolina will send RHP Ryan Clark (1-10, 5.71) to the mound. Clark allowed five runs over 5.1 innings in his lone start vs. Potomac, a no-decision, on May 11th. First pitch at Five County Stadium in Zebulon, NC is set for 6:00pm Friday night.

The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network will carry live coverage Thursday night beginning with the “P-Nats Leadoff Show” at 5:45pm. P-Nats Gameday Audio on the Potomac Nationals Baseball Network is available or via the TuneIn Radio App.

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