Mudcats drop finale and series to Potomac
Woodbridge - The Potomac Nationals took an early lead and never looked back as they defeated the Carolina Mudcats 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at Pfitzer Stadium.
After decimating the Nationals on Friday night 12-5, the Mudcats let two consecutive games slip away and ended their three game road trip to Northern Virginia on a low note.
The Nationals got off to a hot start against Mudcats starting pitcher Mike Rayl. Nationals’ first baseman Francisco Soriano drew a walk from Rayl and quickly stole second base. Before Rayl knew it, Soriano broke towards third and ended up scoring the first run of the game when Mudcats’ catcher Dwight Childs made a wild throw on the pick-off attempt at third base.
The Nationals grabbed a quick lead, but Rayl got back to business and struck out shortstop Rick Hague. With two outs and no one on in the bottom of the first, Nationals’ designated hitter Justin Bloxom stepped up to the plate and crushed a line drive home run to left field giving Potomac a 2-0 lead.
Rayl surrendered a double to Nationals’ center fielder Michael Taylor and then gave up a walk to left fielder Kevin Keyes. Taylor followed Soriano’s lead and stole third for his seventh stolen base of the season.
With runners at the first and third, Nationals’ right fielder Randolph Oduber ripped a single and Taylor trotted in from third to make it 3-0 Nationals. Rayl got out of the first with no further runs scored, but the Mudcats faced a tough uphill battle to get back into the game.
Rayl found his rhythm in the second and third innings retiring six straight batters. The fourth inning appeared to offer more of the same when Rayl forced Keyes to fly out to center field.
Oduber had other plans for his at-bat when he took Rayl deep to left field for his fifth home run of the year. Potomac was now on top of Carolina 4-0 and the Mudcats couldn’t find any offense against Nationals’ starting pitcher Ryan Demmin.
Fortunately for Carolina, the top of the fifth inning offered new hope when Potomac decided to rest Demmin in favor of reliever Shane McCatty. However, McCatty shut down the Mudcats offense just like Demmin did in the first four innings.
Shortstop Ronny Rodriguez was the first batter for Carolina in the top of the sixth inning and he blasted his third home run of the year off McCatty to make the game a more manageable 4-1. The Mudcats added an additional run in the seventh inning making it 4-2 but Nationals’ closer Neil Holland came to the mound in the eighth and shut down the Mudcats to earn his first save of the season.
With the loss, Carolina falls back to .500 with a record of 21-21 and still occupies last place in the Southern Division of the Carolina League.
The Mudcats will travel north to Maryland for a three game stand against the Frederick Keys beginning Monday at 7:00 p.m.