Potomac offense goes quiet: P-Nats fall 6-2 to Carolina
A night after the offense blew up in a 15-run performance, the Potomac Nationals (31-38, 1-1) were shut down by Aaron Ashby as the Carolina Mudcats (40-31, 1-1) tallied a 6-2 win at Northwest Federal Field.
Ashby allowed just four singles over 7.1 innings and had just one man reach scoring position against him. Ashby struck out eight in his second consecutive scoreless outing of at least seven innings.
Before Ashby even took the mound, Carolina led 2-0. The first four batters of the night reached against LHP Nick Raquet (L, 5-7), while the first two eventually crossed the plate. LF Wes Rogers began the game with a single, while both 1B Ryan Aguilar and CF Tristen Lutz each drew a walk. C Mario Feliciano followed with a ground ball to third base, which likely would have been a double play, but 3B Anderson Franco failed to field it cleanly, as the ball rolled into left field. Two runs scored on the fielding error, as Carolina led 2-0 after half an inning and never relinquished the lead. Raquet allowed two runs, one earned, over four innings in the loss.
The game settled down after the top of the first inning, as Ashby cruised through the better part of his first seven innings. The left-handed starter gave up a single to SS Osvaldo Abreu in the second frame, singles to both RF Gage Canning and CF Cole Freeman in the third inning, and a single to Abreu in the fourth frame. Potomac’s lone scoring threat against Ashby came on the consecutive two-out singles in the third inning.
Out of the Potomac bullpen, RHP Luis Reyes cruised through three-hitless innings. The right-handed reliever struck out four and walked just one. Reyes increased his scoreless inning streak to 23 innings.
The Mudcats plated a pair of runs in each of the final two frames, as RHP Andrew Istler allowed two unearned runs in the eighth inning while LHP Hayden Howard gave up a pair of runs in the ninth frame. A passed ball by C Alex Dunlap led to RBIs in the eighth inning from SS Devin Hairston and Aguilar, while 3B Eddie Silva and Hairston each tallied an RBI in the ninth inning.
Ashby departed for LHP Clayton Andrews (SV, 10) with two runners on base and one out in the home half of the eighth inning. Andrews struck out Canning but walked Freeman, which loaded the bases. Trailing 4-0 at the time, LF Nick Banks stepped to the plate as the potential tying run but flied out to centerfield and ended the inning. In the ninth, Andrews struggled to put away the P-Nats, as 1B Aldrem Corredor, DH KJ Harrison, and Dunlap connected with three doubles in a span of four hitters. The latter two doubles each plated a run, but Andrews struck out the final two men that he faced as he closed out Carolina’s 6-2 win.
With the series tied, Potomac will send LHP Tim Cate (Debut) to the mound on Saturday night. Ranked as the fifth best prospect in the Washington Nationals’ system by to MLB.com, Cate went 4-5 with a 2.82 ERA in 13 starts for the Class-A Hagerstown Suns. Cate struck out 73 and walked just 13 over 70.1 innings for Hagerstown. Opposite Cate, RHP Nelson Hernandez (6-5, 5.07) is slated to start for the Mudcats. Though 0-2 in his last two starts, Hernandez has gone at least six innings in three straight outings and done so four times in his past five starts.
First pitch at Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium on Saturday night is set for 6:35pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:20pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.