Cate shines again as P-Nats blank Fayetteville
Cate (W, 2-2) tossed 6.0 scoreless innings on 78 pitches, scattering three hits with five strikeouts to earn his second win. The lefty hasn’t allowed an earned run over his last 16.0 innings, and has turned in three consecutive quality starts.
Potomac scored their first run in the fourth when CF Cole Freeman hit a leadoff triple off RHP Austin Hansen (L, 2-2). The reigning Carolina League Player of the Week was still at third with two outs when LF Jack Sundberg drew a walk, setting in motion a double steal that saw Freeman slide safely across the plate. It was the first of two stolen bases for Freeman, who swiped seven on the six-game road trip to give him 25 on the year.
Cate escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth with a double play off the bat of C Michael Papierski, and benefitted from a pair of stellar defensive plays from SS Gilbert Lara to complete six innings.
LHP Aaron Fletcher took over for Cate in the seventh, and issued a leadoff walk to DH Corey Julks before a stolen base and wild pitch put the tying run at third with no outs. Fletcher kept the ball in the infield with a groundout, strikeout and popout to preserve the 1-0 lead.
In the eighth, the P-Nats got some needed insurance as RHP Nivaldo Rodriguez struggled with his control. RF Gage Canning’s leadoff walk came around to score on a Freeman bunt single and scoring error, and after two more walks another run scored on a Sundberg double play to make the score 3-0.
Fletcher worked a quiet eighth before RHP Frankie Bartow (S, 3) retired the Woodpeckers in order in the ninth for his third save.
The P-Nats will enjoy their first scheduled off day in more than three weeks on Tuesday before returning to action on Wednesday night against Frederick. LHP Carson Teel faces off against RHP David Lebron in the opener against the Keys. First pitch from Northwest Federal Field is set for 7:05 pm, with the P-Nats Leadoff Show starting at 6:50 on potomacnationals.com or the TuneIn Radio App.