Carolina blows late lead in 5-4 loss
Woodbridge – The Carolina Mudcats blew a ninth inning lead and fell to the Potomac Nationals 6-5 on Saturday night at Pfitzer Stadium.
Carolina grabbed an early 5-4 lead with a productive third inning. Third baseman Justin Toole lead-off the inning with a line drive double to center field. Center fielder Tyler Holt singled on a groundball to left field and Toole reached third base on the play.
While second baseman Tony Wolters was batting, Holt safely reached second with his ninth stolen base of the year. Wolters failed to advance the runners but right fielder Carlos Moncrief singled on a fielder’s choice that scored Toole from third base.
With runners at the corners, first baseman Jesus Aguilar singled to left field and drove in two runs tying the game at three apiece. Designated hitter Jeremie Tice crushed his ninth double of the year and brought Aguilar home giving the Mudcats a 4-3 lead.
After surrendering the lead, the Nationals replaced starting pitcher Trevor Holder with reliever Paul Applebee. Applebee forced Mudcats’ catcher Jake Lowery to fly out to center field for the second out of the inning. However, shortstop Ronny Rodriguez came through with a double to right field that scored Tice and gave the Mudcats a 5-3 lead.
The Nationals added a run in the bottom of the fourth, making it a 5-4 contest and the Mudcats held onto the lead into the bottom of the ninth inning.
With no insurance runs in six innings, Carolina placed their hope of a fifth straight victory over the Nationals in the arm of closer Jose Flores.
Flores, who was trying to earn his eighth save of the year, walked Nationals’ shortstop Rick Hague who was the first batter he faced. While pitching to catcher David Freitas, Flores allowed Hague to steal second base, putting the tying run in scoring position.
Flores struck out Freitas, but he couldn’t find the strike zone against Nationals’ third baseman Zach Walters, issuing his second walk in three batters, which gave the Nationals runners at first and second with one out.
Potomac center fielder Michael Taylor ripped a single to left field and Hague scored, tying the game at 5. Now that the save was blown, Flores’ only hope was to try and get two quick outs to send the game to extra innings.
Left fielder Kevin Keyes became the hero of the evening for the Nationals when his sacrifice fly to deep center field allowed Walters to score from third giving Potomac a 6-5 win.
The Mudcats will wrap-up their three game Virigina road trip with a 1:05 p.m. start against the Nationals on Sunday afternoon.