Late rally earns Potomac 3-2 win

Potomac NationalsDown by one run entering the eighth inning, the Potomac Nationals (63-56, 27-26) strung three consecutive hits together to begin a two-run eighth inning in route to a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Mudcats (59-64, 25-28). The win leveled the series at one game apiece and set up a rubber match on Sunday afternoon.

After a brisk first inning, and with two outs in the top of the second inning, the rain began to fall at Five County Stadium. Just prior to a third strike on C Jakson Reetz, which ended the frame, a downpour ensued, which led to an eventual 66-minute rain delay.

Out of the delay, RHP Joan Baez (ND) issued consecutive walks to DH Weston Wilson and RF Cooper Hummel. Both scored in the home half of the second inning, as an RBI single from 3B Dallas Carroll made it 1-0 Carolina, while 2B Nick Roscetti’s RBI single put the Mudcats on top 2-0. Baez, the Potomac starting pitcher, departed after two innings, and the Potomac bullpen then spun seven-shutout frames.

RHP Alec Bettinger (ND) struck out four batters over two innings before the rain delay, worked around a leadoff walk in the third inning after the delay, but gave up consecutive hits to the first two batters that he faced in the fourth frame. LF Jack Sundberg led off the inning for Potomac with a single, and then advanced to third base on a double from CF Nick Banks. Bettinger retired RF Rhett Wiseman, while Reetz pulled Potomac within a run with a sacrifice fly. Potomac left the tying run at second base in the inning.

The score remained 2-1 in favor of Carolina until the top of the eighth inning. LHP Taylor Guilbeau allowed just two hits over a season-high 3.1 innings out of the Potomac bullpen, while LHP Hayden Howard (W, 3-1) allowed just one hit over two-shutout frames. Howard got out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the sixth inning, while Potomac finally cracked the Carolina bullpen in the eighth inning.

After three-scoreless innings from LHP Cody Beckman, the Mudcats brought in RHP Rodrigo Benoit (L, 0-1) to begin the eighth inning. The first three batters that he faced all picked up singles, as SS Luis Garcia scored the game-tying run on a base hit from 1B Ian Sagdal, while Sundberg gave Potomac the lead with a sacrifice fly, which plated Sagdal. Potomac took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning.

Howard walked two of the three men that he faced in the eighth inning, as he departed for RHP Jacob Condra-Bogan (SV, 1) with men at first and second base and only one out. Condra-Bogan quickly struck out C Nathan Rodriguez, and then got SS Trever Morrison to ground out to end the inning. The Potomac right-handed reliever followed with a perfect ninth inning, as he secured his first save in the Nationals’ system and closed out the Potomac 3-2 win.

Both teams have a one-run victory in the series, which leads to a rubber match on Sunday. LHP Matthew Crownover (3-8, 5.05) is set to start for Potomac. The left-handed starter has allowed just two total runs over his last two starts since he re-joined the Potomac rotation. For the Mudcats, RHP Bowden Francis (0-1, 12.46) is scheduled to make his second career Carolina League start. In his High-A debut last Tuesday, Francis allowed six runs on six hits over 4.1 innings in a loss to the Down East Wood Ducks.

First pitch at Five County Stadium on Saturday is set for 2:00pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 1:45pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at, at, or on the TuneIn Radio App.

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