Mudcats fall to Nationals in shootout, 11-8
Carolina lost despite getting out to an early 6-0 lead after the first inning.
WOODBRIDGE, VA — The Potomac Nationals outslugged the Carolina Mudcats Friday to come away with an 11-8 victory.
The Mudcats fell despite grabbing a six-run lead in the top of the first and outhitting the Nationals 15 to 13.
Carolina’s offense came out hot, jumping all over Potomac starter Brian Rauh. Todd Hankins and Yhoxian Medina opened with singles before Joe Sever walked to load the bases with nobody out. Yandy Diaz also earned a walk, plating Hankins for the game’s opening run. Jeremy Lucas then busted the game wide open, depositing Rauh’s offering over the fence in left for a grand slam as the Mudcats shot ahead 5-0.
Rauh then struck out Alex Monsalve, finally getting the first out of the inning before LeVon Washington started more trouble with an infield single. Washington then took second as Rauh uncorked a wild pitch to James Roberts. Although Roberts struck out, Luigi Rodriguez followed with a bunt single as Washington advanced to third. A fielding error by first baseman Shawn Pleffner then allowed Hankins to reach safely as Washington crossed the dish to make it 6-0 as Rauh’s start came to an early ending.
But Potomac battled back, cutting into the deficit off Mudcats starter Ryan Merritt in the bottom of the inning. With a man on first and one away, Pleffner’s double to center put the Nationals on the board as Tony Renda came around to score. An Oscar Tejada single then plated Pleffner before a Stephen Perez groundout moved Tejada up to second. This set the stage for the most exciting play in baseball, as Randolph Oduber plated a pair on an inside-the-park home run to right center putting the Nationals right back in the game at 6-4.
Potomac grabbed another run back in the bottom of the second on a solo homerun from Pedro Severino as the Nationals backstop brought his team within a run at 6-5.
The Nationals then went on to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth. Khayyan Norfork followed Oduber’s leadoff double to right with a two-bagger of his own to make it 6-6 and completely erase Carolina’s early advantage.
Seeing their lead disappear, the Mudcats offense began building a new advantage in the top of the sixth. Carolina loaded the bases with no outs thanks to singles from Diaz and Lucas and a walk to Monsalve. After Washington struck out swinging, Roberts put the Mudcats back ahead with an infield single as Diaz scored. Lucas then came home on Rodriguez’s groundout to the mound as Carolina surged back ahead 8-6.
However, Potomac would not go away. A walk to Stephen Perez to leadoff the bottom of the sixth sent the Mudcats into their bullpen as Ben Heller replaced Merritt. Perez, Merritt’s responsibility, scored the Nationals seventh run as Oduber welcomed Heller to the contest with a single up the middle as Potomac pulled back within a run.
Usually dominant, Merritt was roughed up by the Nationals in his 5.0 inning start. The southpaw took no decision after allowing seven earned runs on even hits while walking one and striking out five.
The Nationals then shot ahead in the bottom of the seventh with Rob Nixon on the mound for Carolina. Severino opened with an infield hit, then took second on Roberts’s throwing error. Isaac Ballou then brought Severino home with a double to left tying the score at 8. After a Renda groundout, Pleffner put Potomac ahead with a single to short, then alertly took second on the throw to the plate as Ballou scored. Pleffner stole third, then scored on Perez’s double to center as Potomac went up 10-8.
Nixon (1-5, 4.17) took the loss for Carolina, allowing three runs, one earned, on four hits in 0.2 innings of work.
Cody Davis (1-0, 5.40) earned the win for Potomac, going 2.1 innings allowing two earned runs on four hits. Bryan Harper went the last 2.0 innings for the Nationals, shutting out Carolina for his second save of the year.
Carolina falls to 19-16 on the second half and are 48-54 overall. They lead the Southern Division by 1.5 games after Friday’s action. Potomac improves to 18-15 for the second half to sit at 56-46 overall.
The series continues Saturday from G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium as Carolina sends Michael Peoples (7-7, 4.57) to the hill against Ian Dickson (2-8, 5.61) in a battle of righties. First pitch is set for 6:35 PM.