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Walk-off blast gives Potomac Nationals 4-3 win

Potomac NationalsDespite two early deficits, the Potomac Nationals (38-47, 8-10) earned a 4-3 win on Sunday night in the series opener vs. the Fayetteville Woodpeckers (40-47, 9-9).

Potomac erased two different one-run deficits in the first half of the game and got a walk-off home run from LF Nick Banks with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 4-3 victory. Banks’ home run capped the fourth walk-off win of the season for Potomac and handed the Woodpeckers their 10th walk-off loss of 2019.

Fayetteville got out to an early start against RHP Kyle Johnston (ND), as SS Jeremy Pena led off the game with a triple and scored three batters later on a two-out RBI single from CF Chandler Taylor. Johnston allowed just one more run as he recorded his team-best 10th quality start of the season.

The P-Nats didn’t waste much time against RHP Luis Garcia (ND), as RF Telmito Agustin led off the home half of the second frame with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly from SS Gilbert Lara. Lara’s first Carolina League RBI tied the game 1-1.

Johnston ran into trouble one inning later, as three straight Woodpeckers reached with one out in the third frame. With the bases loaded, 2B Jonathan Arauz gave Fayetteville another one-run lead with a sacrifice fly, though Johnston limited the damage and stranded a pair of runners on base in the inning. Johnston allowed just five hits over six innings in his first no-decision in 17 starts in 2019.

Once more, Potomac answered on the offensive side. DH Alex Dunlap led off the fourth inning with a walk. Two batters later, 3B Osvaldo Abreu drew Garcia’s second walk of the inning, while a groundout by 2B Bryan Mejia put runners at second and third base with two outs. The Fayetteville starter then uncorked one of his three wild pitches on the night, which plated Dunlap and made it 2-2. Potomac left the go-ahead run at third base in the frame.

Garcia departed after five innings, as the Woodpeckers called upon RHP Humberto Castellanos (L, 0-1) out of the bullpen and then asked him to pitch the rest of the game. The defense behind Castellanos failed him in his first frame, as a two-base throwing error on Pena put Lara at second base with only one out. Abreu followed with a go-ahead RBI double, as Potomac took a 3-2 lead into the latter third of the game.

Potomac went to the bullpen after six frames from Johnston, as RHP Kyle Barraclough pitched the seventh inning on rehab assignment from the Washington Nationals. Barraclough struck out three batters in the inning but gave up a towering game-tying home run to LF Ross Adolph. The first home run of the season for Adolph cleared the batter’s eye in centerfield and made it 3-3.

After the P-Nats missed a scoring chance in the eighth inning, runners on second and third and only one out but no runs, RHP Jhonatan German (W, 1-1) entered to pitch for Potomac. German quickly retired the side in order in the ninth inning and set up the Potomac walk-off opportunity.

In his fourth inning out of the Fayetteville bullpen, Castellanos struck out CF Gage Canning to begin the home half of the ninth inning, but Banks took the right-handed reliever deep on an 0-1 pitch for his ninth home run of the year, which ties the All-Star outfielder for the team lead. Banks’ home run gave Potomac the 4-3 win in the first game of a three-game set.

With a win in the series finale vs. Wilmington on Saturday and now a win in the series opener vs. Fayetteville, the P-Nats will turn to Monday night in an effort to make it three consecutive victories. LHP Nick Raquet (5-8, 4.97) is scheduled to start for Potomac. Last time out, Raquet pitched just three innings on a no-decision against Wilmington. Three of the right-handed starter’s last four starts have been no longer than four innings. For the Woodpeckers, RHP Shawn Dubin (2-4, 4.25) is set to start in an effort to level the series. Dubin hasn’t been charged with more than two earned runs in any of his last seven appearances.

First pitch at Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium on Monday night is set for 7:05pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:50pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at or on the TuneIn Radio App.