Potomac Nationals fend off Mudcats rally, win 7-4
On Saturday night at Five County Stadium in series Game Two, the Potomac Nationals (51-60 Overall, 25-32 Road, 18-23 Second Half) fended off a 9th inning rally from the Carolina Mudcats (57-55 Overall, 35-25 Home, 23-20 Second Half) to hook the Muddys by the final score of 7-4 forcing a Sunday evening rubber match.
With the victory, Potomac improved their head-to-head record to (12-4) vs. the Mudcats in 2015.
Nationals starter, RHP Austen Williams (3-3) submitted his third quality start for Potomac over the course of six outings to earn his third win which evened his win/loss record in the Carolina League. Williams went 6.0 innings on the hill and allowed two runs (one earned run) on four base hits (two knocks for extra bags) but no walks.
Williams struck out a P-Nats’ season-high eight Mudcats while throwing 97 total pitches and 66 strikes.
Meanwhile, Williams’ opposition, Carolina RHP Andrew Thurman (5-4) was hit with his fourth loss this season after giving up six runs (five earned runs) on eight hits and one wild pitch. Thurman walked none, fanned four, and served up one home run.
Potomac jumped out to a 3-0 lead on one swing in the 3rd inning. After 1B Grant DeBruin smacked a single into left field and LF Alec Keller filleted a double into the gap in left-center field, SS Stephen Perez blasted a three-run homer, his second clout of the ’15 season, off the scoreboard in right-center on a pitch from Thurman.
The Nationals took a 5-0 edge with two runs in the 3rd frame when 2B Reegie Corona sent the first pitch he saw from Thurman down the right field line for a double before DH John Wooten cranked an RBI double off the second tier of signage in left field to extend his on-base streak to 18 games which is the longest such stretch of reaching base safely among all P-Nats’ swingers during the 2015 season. Wooten was delivered to home plate on a run-scoring single chopped into right field by Keller.
Carolina plated one run in the last of the 3rd as Mudcats SS Johan Camargo ripped a triple to the alley in right-center field and scored on an RBI 4-3 groundout off the bat of 2B Keith Curcio.
The Nationals upped their lead to 6-1 with one run in the 5th as the result of a leadoff single by P-Nats CF Rafael Bautista, a wild pitch from Thurman that got Bautista to second base, and an error charged to Carolina 1B Tanner Krietemeier on a ball grounded by Corona through his legs that allowed Bautista to score.
The Mudcats answered with one run in the home half of the 5th via a dropped popup by Perez in shallow center field amid a near-collision with Bautista that sent the infield single of Carolina RF Joey Meneses homeward. Meneses had gotten into scoring position on a single slapped to left-center by Camargo.
Potomac RHP Jake Johansen dealt 2.0 scoreless relief innings behind Williams allowing just two hits.
Carolina LHP Andy Otero matched Johansen with a pair of no-run innings, himself.
Up by the score of 6-2, The Red, White, and Blue received an insurance run in the 9th on three straight walks issued by Carolina RHP Clayton Cook then an RBI single sprayed into center field by Nationals RF Narciso Mesa. Mudcats RHP Justin Jackson retired the side on a Bautista fielder’s choice groundball to third base and a 1-2-3 double play induced against Corona.
In the bottom of the 9th, Carolina rallied for two runs off Nationals RHP Phillips Valdez, who did not record an out. Valdez walked the leadoff man, Mudcats 3B Carlos Franco before allowing a double grounded down the left field line by Carolina C Joe Odom. Valdez then issued a wild pitch to the backstop allowing Franco to score and Odom to move to third base. Meneses then railed an RBI single into center field to cut the P-Nats’ lead to 7-4. On a 3-2 pitch from Valdez, Krietemeier yanked a one-base hit into right field to put runners at first and second base and chase Valdez from the mound. Nationals LHP R.C. Orlan (1 SV), in his second appearance of the season for Potomac, entered and slammed the door shut to seal a Potomac win. Orlan’s first pitch was bunted to the right of the mound by Camargo resulting in a 1-3 putout. Curcio then struck out on a check-swing for the second out. The third-best hitter in the league by batting average (.294 entering play), CF Connor Lien, was then struck out swinging by Orlan while representing the tying run. Orlan registered his first save with Potomac in his first save opportunity.
The P-Nats went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position in their 51st win of the 2015 campaign.
In the series finale on Sunday night, the Nationals send LHP Matthew Spann (1-6, 4.53) to the bump to deal against Carolina LHP Blair Walters (5-5, 2.84). First pitch from the “Tackle Box” is set for 6:00pm.
– Source: Potomac Nationals