ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (18-16) faced the Potomac Nationals (13-19) looking for the series sweep after clinching the series win the night before.
Behind Francisco Jimenez’s good outing the Mudcats were able to win in a tight one 3-2 over the Nationals taking all three games in the series. Jimenez went five and two third innings giving up two unearned runs while striking out five and giving up only two hits.
The Nationals scored the first run of the game in the third following a one out single by Randolph Oduber, and back-to-back errors. Francisco Soriano grounded to short, but Ronny Rodriguez was unable to field the ball, as it went right through his legs allowing Oduber to move to third. Blake Kelso then laid down a bunt that Jimenez was unable to control as he got to it, allowing Oduber to score.
The Mudcats finally pushed across a run, but failed to fully capitalize on their scoring threat in the fourth. Tony Wolters led off the inning with a double to right, followed by Sydney Moncrief reaching on a hit by pitch. Wolters advanced to third on a wild pitch as Moncrief held at first; Moncrief stole second on the next pitch. Aguilar grounded out to short, scoring Wolters from third and moving Moncrief up to third. That’s the only run the Mudcats would record, as Tice popped out in foul territory beside first, followed by Jake Lowery flying out to left to end the inning, keeping the game tied at 1-1 entering the fifth.
Another error by Rodriguez, this time with two outs in the fifth, allowing the Nationals to take back the lead 2-1. A lead-off double by Kevin Keyes off the left field wall, followed by a hit batter Beau Seabury got the inning started for the Nationals. Randolph Oduber bunted the two over. Francisco Soriano then flied out to shallow left, but not deep enough for Keyes to score, giving Jimenez the opportunity to get out of the inning. It looked like Jimenez did just that when Blake Kelso hit a grounder to Rodriguez, however his throw was low and Aguilar was unable to pick it out of the dirt, allowing Keyes to score.
Three straight hits to lead off the fifth inning resulted in the Mudcats taking their first lead of the game and ended the day for Applebee. Rodriguez led off the inning with an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Anthony Gallas singled to center, allowing Rodriguez to score and when the throw by center fielder Michael Taylor came home, Gallas moved to second. Gallas scored on a single by Tyler Cannon to right giving the Mudcats a 3-2 lead. After the single by Cannon, the Nationals turned to their bullpen, bringing in Trevor Holder to replace Applebee. Applebee went four plus innings, giving up three runs on five hits.
Jimenez started to get a little wild in the sixth after inducing a groundout by Rick Hague to start the inning. He walked back-to-back men, Justin Bloxom and Michael Taylor. Kevin Keyes would fly to deep center that allowed Bloxom to tag and move to third. The Mudcats would turn to the bullpen, bringing in stud Shawn Armstrong. Armstrong got the Mudcats out of the inning, striking out Seabury.
Once the starters were out of the game for both teams, the offenses were unable to get anything going. The Mudcats bullpen was led by Shawn Armstrong who would pitch two and a third scoreless innings, striking out five while not allowing a batter to reach. Trevor Holder would have similar success for the Nationals going three scoreless innings only allowing one batter to reach a two out single by Jake Lowery in the sixth. Jose Flores would get the save for the Mudcats as he pitched a perfect ninth.
Jimenez was the real star of the game. “[It was] a very good outing by Jimenez, he was able to pitch himself out of trouble in the third and fourth innings. He made his pitches when he had to; it was a good win for him” said Manager Edwin Rodriguez. The trouble Jimenez was in was mostly attributed to errors; two by shortstop Ronny Rodriguez and another committed by himself.
The Mudcats, following two games in which they put up a total of 18 runs, were only able to put up three in Sunday’s game. “They pitched well, it’s good to know that we can win when we don’t score much and the game is close like it was” said Rodriguez. The Mudcats were able to put up enough runs on the board to get the win as a two run fifth inning gave the Mudcats the lead for good.
The Mudcats are now three games over 500 for the first time all year and will look to build upon their three game winning streak, as the Salem Red Sox will come to Five County Stadium for a four game series starting Monday night at 7:15.