Carolina Mudcats rally in eighth to top P-Nats

Potomac NationalsThe Potomac Nationals (3-6, 33-43) fought back to tie Friday night’s game against the Carolina Mudcats (4-4, 43-34) on two separate occasions, but came up short in the ninth inning as they fell 4-2.

LHP Tim Cate had a much smoother time of things in his second Carolina League start, striking out seven Mudcats batters over 5.0 innings of two-run ball. The young lefty, facing the Mudcats for the second time in a week, improved on his up-and-down debut and received a no-decision.

Cate and Mudcats RHP Noah Zavolas matched zeroes in the early innings before Carolina’s 2B Julio Garcia led off the third with a double and scored on 1B Ryan Aguilar’s RBI single. The P-Nats answered back in the top of the fourth with three consecutive singles and a sacrifice fly from 3B Anderson Franco to tie the game 1-1. It was the first run allowed by Zavolas in 12 innings after throwing a complete game shutout at Potomac last Sunday.

Carolina reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the fourth as DH Payton Henry hit an opposite field solo homer for the second time in as many nights. Cate would finish the outing strong, getting four of his final five outs on strikeouts to complete 5.0 innings for the first time in a Nationals uniform.

Zavolas cruised through 7.0 innings, leaving in line for his fifth win of the year. He was relieved by LHP Cody Beckman (W, 3-3) in the eighth, and CF Cole Freeman promptly greeted the reliever with a leadoff double. Freeman took third on a groundout and scored the tying run on a Beckman balk, making the score 2-2.

RHP Andrew Istler bridged the middle innings with 2.0 scoreless innings of relief, and handed the ball to RHP Luis Reyes (L, 1-4) to preserve the tie in the eighth. But the usually dominant reliever allowed the first three batters of the inning to reach, with CF Tristen Lutz putting the Mudcats back in front with an RBI single. Henry added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly, giving closer RHP Rodrigo Benoit (S, 11) a two-run lead heading to the ninth.

C Alex Dunlap led off the ninth by reaching on an error, and PH Telmito Agustin followed with a clean single. LF Nick Banks loaded the bases with a bloop single to right field, but Benoit buckled down to retire Freeman and 1B Aldrem Corredor to end the game.

The P-Nats continue their series with the Mudcats on Saturday night as RHP Andrew Lee faces off against RHP Christian Taugner in game three of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 pm, with the Potomac broadcast starting at 4:45 with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at or on the TuneIn Radio App.

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