ZEBULON-The Carolina Mudcats (6-4) took the first game of the series from the Potomac Nationals (6-4) 8-3.
Francisco Jimenez gave the Mudcats a strong outing, tossing six innings, while giving up only one run on three hits. “He was good, he kept us in the game. At points he lost his concentration when he was facing the bottom of the order, but overall it was a very good outing” said manager Edwin Rodriguez
The Mudcats were able to benefit from five errors by the Nationals which resulted in five unearned runs, four of which came in the bottom of the eighth when the score was tight at 4-3. “It’s a huge part of the game. They need to work on that and learn to do that, especially when you’re facing good pitching. When that happens you really need to take advantage and we did tonight” said Rodriguez.
National starter Robbie Ray ended up with the loss as he tossed five and two third innings, giving up four runs, three of which were earned, on seven hits. Both center fielder Tyler Holt and DH Anthony Gallas recorded five hits and had an RBI each to lead the Mudcat offense, as all but one Mudcat starter would reach base in the game.
The Nationals would get their first hit and first run in the fourth as they were able to scratch the scoreboard first. A lead off double by shortstop Rick Hague to left center got the inning started. Following the double, the Nationals were able to manufacture the run. Hague tagged up and moved to third on a deep fly out to center by left fielder Kevin Keyes, and then scored on a sac fly by DH Jason Martinson.
Ray wasn’t able to hold the lead for long, as the Mudcats answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth. The first three batters reached for the Mudcats as Holt walked to lead off the inning and then moved to second on a bunt single by shortstop Tony Wolters. A double to left by third baseman Giovanny Urshela would push across the first run for the Mudcats as Holt came around to score from second and Wolters threw on the brakes at third. Then with first baseman Jesus Aguilar batting, a wild pitch by Ray allowed Wolters to come in to score as Urshela moved to third. After Aguilar lined out to third, a single by DH Anthony Gallas to left scored Urshela to give the Mudcats a 3-1 lead.
An error by center fielder Michael Taylor gave the Mudcats the opportunity to tack on another run in the fifth. Holt lined a ball to center. Taylor charging on the play had the ball bounce by him. As the ball rolled away, Holt scampered all the way to third before right fielder Randolph Oduber could come over and get the ball back in. Wolters then came up and made the Nationals pay as he singled up the middle, easily scoring Holt, giving the Mudcats a 4-1 lead.
In the sixth, Justin Toole pinch hit for right fielder Carlos Moncrief. Toole proceeded to move to left field pushing left fielder Delvi Cid over to right. “He wasn’t feeling good before the game, so he was getting worse so I took him out” said Rodriguez, making it seem as though Moncrief should be alright within the next few days.
Kyle Blair came in for Jimenez in the seventh and the Nationals struck for two runs against him. The first two batters singled in the inning, resulting in the first run of the inning. Oduber singled to right and then stole second. Catcher Erick Fernandez singled to center allowing Oduber to come around to score. Fernandez moved to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a groundout by second baseman Adrian Sanchez. Fernandez scored on a groundout to short by Hague to cut the Mudcat lead to one at 4-3.
The Mudcats tacked on some insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to put the game out of reach from the Nationals. Cole Kimball, who had come in out of the bullpen in relief in the eighth, would give up three runs. Joe Testa, who came in for Kimball with two outs in the inning, gave up one of his own. Gallas singled to left with one out to start the rally, and second baseman Ronny Rodriguez then reached on an error. Catcher Tyler Cannon then singled to left scoring Gallas as Rodriguez moved to third. Cannon moved to second on the throw home from left. Testa came in for Kimball and gave up a single to Cid, scoring both Cannon and Rodriguez. Cannon moved to third on another error, this one on a throw by Keyes from left. Holt singled to left to score Cid before Testa got Wolters to ground out to end the inning.
That would be all the Mudcats would need as Cole Cook who had come in for the eighth would finish off the game for the Mudcats. The Mudcats will look to again beat the Nationals as they face off again at 7:15 Monday night at Five County Stadium.