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Error-plagued Mudcats lose to Nationals, 4-2

Carolina and Potomac made 3 errors a piece on a wet Friday night.

Error-plagued Mudcats lose to Nationals, 4-2
Todd Hankins went 1-for-5 with a RBI in Friday's 4-2 loss to Potomac. (Photo credit: Tony Lastoria)
August 1, 2014
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ZEBULON, NC — Fielding miscues cost the Carolina Mudcats dearly Friday as they fell to the Potomac Nationals 4-2 on a wet evening at Five County Stadium.

Yandy Diaz throwing error brought in two unearned runs as the P-Nats did most of their damage in a three-run top of the third.

Carolina appeared poised to grab the lead in the bottom of the second after Jerrud Sabourin doubled off the wall in left, then advanced to third on a Luigi Rodriguez sacrifice bunt. But the Mudcats couldn’t come through with the breakthrough, as Nationals starter Ian Dickson escaped the jam by forcing Logan Vick to ground into an inning-ending double play. 

The Nationals would quickly make Carolina rue the missed opportunity as they jumped out to a lead of their own against Dylan Baker in the top of the third. With one away, a pair of singles from Shawn Pleffner and Randolph Oduber set the table for Stephen Perez. The Potomac shortstop delivered, doubling to right scoring Pleffner as Oduber moved to third.

The Mudcats then gifted Potomac a pair of runs as a charging Diaz airmailed his throw to the plate on Mike McQuillan’s chopper to third, allowing Oduber and Perez to cross the plate as the Nationals puled ahead 3-0.

Mudcats manager Scooter Tucker admitted his third baseman’s miscue was costly, but was quick to point out it was a difficult play.

“It’s a tough one to throw home softly when you’re coming in hard like that,” Tucker said. “It’s not a play you work on very often, it’s very similar to pitchers having trouble when they’re running towards first which you see a lot.”

Baker (1-2, 5.63) was tagged with the loss, allowing three runs, one earned, on five hits in a 3.2 inning start. The righty struck out two while also walking a pair.

Despite taking the loss, Tucker was happy with Baker’s effort.

“He was good. After the first he did well to limit his pitches and certainly gave us a chance to win,” said the Carolina skipper.

The Mudcats managed to grab one back in the bottom of the frame. Yhoxian Medina got aboard with a one-out infield single to third before Dickson walked Joe Sever. Diaz followed with a grounder to short that threatened to end the inning, but the Nationals couldn’t turn two as Tony Renda’s errant throw to first got past Pleffner at first as Medina put the Mudcats on the board at 3-1.

Todd Hankins then cut the Potomac lead in half in the bottom of the fourth. After Rodriguez walked and stole second, Hankins singled up the middle to score his right fielder then took second as Isaac Ballou overran it in center.  With Medina at the plate, the speedy Hankins appeared to steal third, but home plate umpire Chase Eade called batter interference as Medina fell backing out of the box, ending the home half of the fourth with Potomac still up 3-2. 

Although there appeared to be some confusion on the play, Tucker had no qualms with Eade’s decision.

“He (Medina) certainly got in the way,” Tucker admitted. “It was one of those things if the catcher had gone in front he would have fine, but he went behind so it ended up as one of those unfortunate mistakes.”

Two runs would be all Carolina could manage off Dickson (3-8, 5.27). He earned the win by allowing a pair of earned runs on five hits in 5.0 innings of work. Dickson issued three walks while striking out three.

Benny Suarez and Ben Heller kept the Mudcats close, combining for 3.0 innings of scoreless relief.

But the Nationals managed to extend their advantage off Jacob Lee in the top of the ninth. Pedro Severino singled to right and Lee hit Ballou before Renda’s fielder’s choice saw Severino retired at third. Pleffner then doubled the Potomac lead with a base hit to right making it 4-2 as Ballou scored the game’s final run.

Bryan Harper, the older brother of Washington star Bryce Harper, earned his third save of the year with a scoreless, but rocky bottom of the ninth.

Sabourin singled up the middle and Rodriguez reached on a dropped fly ball in right to put the tying runs aboard before James Roberts’s failed sacrifice led to the first out as Sabourin was retired at third. Logan Vick then earned a walk to load the bases, but Harper buckled down to strike out Hankins for the second out.

Down to their final out, Carolina nearly won the game as Medina’s liner to left landed foul by inches as the shortstop almost snatched a dramatic victory for the Mudcats. But the long foul ball proved meaningless as Medina grounded out to conclude the contest.

Asked about his view of Medina’s teasing shot from the third base coaching box, Tucker managed a sly smile: “It sure looked good there for a second.”

Carolina will look to rebound Saturday as they continue their series with the Nationals. The Mudcats have not named a starter, while Potomac while start southpaw Hector Silvestre (0-0, 4.50).

First pitch is set for 6:00 PM. 

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