P-Nats split crazy twin bill with Woodpeckers
The P-Nats worked a walk-off walk in the eighth inning of game one for a 4-3 win, but the Woodpeckers ended the night with a four-run rally in the seventh inning to take game two 5-4.
Steady starting pitching marked both games, as RHP Kyle Johnston pitched 5.2 innings of solid ball in the opener and RHP Ryan Tapani fanned 10 in his P-Nats debut in the nightcap.
Game one began with the P-Nats taking a 3-0 lead in the second inning off RHP JP France. 2B Osvaldo Abreu hit an RBI single to take the first lead, and RF Gage Canning followed with a two-run double for an early advantage. France would bounce back nicely, completing seven innings and striking out eight to keep his team in the game.
Johnston allowed only one hit through 4.0 scoreless innings, but encountered trouble in the fifth on C Scott Manea’s two-run homer. His first two outs in the sixth came easily, but 3B Jonathan Arauz doubled and DH Ross Adolph followed with a game-tying RBI single to bring the score to 3-3.
RHP Andrew Istler (W, 1-1) kept the game tied by getting the final out of the sixth, and worked a scoreless seventh to help send the game to extras. The reliever worked around the automatic baserunner to put up a zero in the eighth, setting the stage for Potomac’s game-winning rally in the bottom half of the inning.
Canning began the bottom of the eighth as the automatic runner at second, and CF Cole Freeman dropped down a sacrifice bunt to advance the winning run to third. RHP Cesar Rosado (L, 2-6) intentionally walked DH Aldrem Corredor, and C Jakson Reetz was hit by a pitch to load the bases before 1B KJ Harrison drew a bases-loaded walk to win the game.
In game two, Tapani overcame a rocky first inning to tie Potomac’s single game strikeout record for the 2019 season. In his first P-Nats appearance, the righty allowed only one run on three hits in 5.0 innings before the bullpen allowed the Woodpeckers to steal the game late.
Adolph led off the game with a double, and scored on an RBI single from Arauz to put Fayetteville ahead 1-0. The lead would be short-lived, however, as Woodpeckers RHP Shawn Dubin struggled to control the strike zone and left after retiring only two batters. Harrison drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game, and Abreu hit a two-run single to give the P-Nats a 3-1 lead.
RF Telmito Agustin hit his sixth homer of the season to lead off the third inning, and Tapani went to work. He struck out at least two batters in four of his five innings, sending the game to the bullpen with a 4-1 lead. RHP Jeremy McKinney worked a scoreless sixth inning before running into trouble in the pivotal seventh.
Down to their final two outs, the Woodpeckers got back-to-back singles from 3B Enmanuel Valdez and LF Scott Schreiber to bring the tying run to the plate. Adolph walked to load the bases, prompting the P-Nats to bring closer RHP Jhonatan German (L, 1-2) into the game. RF Chandler Taylor brought the deficit to two with a sacrifice fly, and with two outs Arauz hit a three-run homer to put the Woodpeckers ahead 5-4. RHP Humberto Castellanos (W, 1-1), who had entered the game in the fifth, worked a 1-2-3 seventh to seal the win and salvage the split.
The P-Nats continue their series against the Woodpeckers on Sunday afternoon as LHP Nick Raquet faces off against RHP Nivaldo Rodriguez in game three of four. First pitch from Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium on Friday night is set for 1:05 pm, with the P-Nats Leadoff Show beginning at 12:50 on the Potomac Nationals Baseball Network. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.