Khayyan Norfork slid across home plate in the bottom of the 9th inning at Pfitzner Stadium on Monday night on a double play attempt by the Carolina Mudcats (6-5, 4-3) to send the Potomac Nationals (6-5, 4-3) to their first walk-off win in 2014.
Winning 6-5, the Nationals never allowed the Mudcats to lead in the game and with the victory, took the series triumph to yield a (4-3) homestand.
Nationals RHP Brian Rauh was solid in his third outing of the season going 5.0 innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits.
Carolina LHP Shawn Morimando, like Rauh, did not receive a decision, but was effective in 5.0 innings as the southpaw surrendered three earned runs on five base hits.
Morimando served up home runs balls to 1B Kevin Keyes, who cranked a high-arching two-run shot to dead center field in the 1st inning, his first tater of the season, and RF Brandon Miller, who bashed an opposite field solo blast out to right center in the 4th, his fourth four-bagger of the campaign.
Carolina scored their first run on a groundball RBI single drilled up the middle by 1B Charlie Valerio in the 2nd and wouldn’t score again until the 5th when SS Erik Gonzalez laced a softly served run-scoring single into right field to cut the Nationals’ lead to 3-2.
In the 6th off RHP Dakota Bacus, Carolina scored the tying run on a wild pitch during a walk issued to Valerio that brought home the leadoff single of C Alex Monsalve.
After stretch time in the last of the 7th stanza, Potomac grabbed the lead back on a groundball from Keyes with the bases loaded that 3B James Roberts heaved through Valerio at first base. Nationals LF Randolph Oduber dashed to the plate and due to the errant throw, DH Oscar Tejeda was also able to score to put the home club up 5-3. RHP Benny Suarez was hit with an earned run while RHP Carlos Melo allowed an unearned run.
In the 8th, Carolina received back-to-back jacks off the lumber of Monsalve and RF Anthony Gallas which came against Bacus. Both were solo homers to tie this wild contest at 5-5.
In the bottom of the 9th after the eventual winning pitcher, RHP Robert Benincasa (1-0) tossed a scoreless frame despite allowing a single to Gonzalez and making use of a sparkling play made by Keyes on a popup caught by leaning into the first base field box, the Nationals grinded out their insta-win.
Against RHP Louis Head (0-1), the losing pitcher, Norfork was hit by an offering leading off the frame to put the winning run aboard before Tejeda grounded out to second base pushing Norfork into scoring position. Keyes was intentionally walked to put runners at first and second base. Miller then raked a hard grounder to Gonzalez at shortstop who tried to start a 6-4-3 twin killing but the return throw from 2B Torsten Boss was late, and Potomac Manager, Tripp Keister waved Norfork, who was running hard with two outs, to home plate.
Valerio’s throw to the dish was tardy, and with a headfirst slide, Norfork was safe to seal the P-Nats’ first walk-off “W” of the campaign.
Miller was credited with the game-winning RBI.
The Nationals travel to Myrtle Beach, SC through the night to begin a three-game set with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers) at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark before motoring to Lynchburg, VA to go to work against the Lynchburg Hillcats (Atlanta Braves) in a four-game series to wrap the two-city road trip.