Rayl strong in Mudcats 5-3 win
ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (8-4) completed the sweep of the Potomac Nationals (6-6) as they took the final game of the series 5-3 on Tuesday night.
The Mudcats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and it seemed as though the Mudcats would be able to again cruise to victory as Mike Rayl breezed through the first four innings; however, the Nationals would put up one run in each of the next three innings to give them a rare lead in the series. But a clutch single by third baseman Giovanny Urshela in the bottom of the seventh put the Mudcats back ahead for good.
“That was big, he has been getting clutch hits for us and he is always putting the ball in play," manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "You can count on him to make contact and in that situation that was a very tough pitch that he hit.”
Three straight singles to lead off the second for the Mudcats led to a two run inning off National starter Matt Grace. Shortstop Ronny Rodriguez led off the inning with a single to left and then on a hit and run was able to move to third as right fielder Carlos Moncrief drove a single to right. A single to left by catcher Tyler Cannon pushed across Rodriguez for the first run of the game. A wild pitch by Grace with center fielder Tyler Holt batting allowed Moncrief and Cannon to move up, eventually costing Grace later in the at bat. Holt was able go get his bat on the ball as he grounded out to short which got the job done as Moncrief came in from third giving the Mudcats a 2-0 lead before Grace could get out of the inning.
After getting the first two batters out in the fifth Rayl got himself into trouble as the Nationals put together a two out rally to push across their first run of the night cutting their deficit to 2-1. First baseman Stephen King got the rally started with a two out double off the right field wall. Rayl then walked left fielder Kevin Keyes to bring right fielder Randolph Oduber to bat. Oduber smoked a ball off the right field wall right down the line easily scoring King from second as Keyes stopped at third. Rayl would get out of the inning without any further damage as he struck out third baseman Blake Kelso to end the inning.
An error on a potential double play ball allowed the Nationals to get the game back to even in the sixth inning. A lead off walk to designated hitter Adrian Sanchez came back to hurt Rayl. With second baseman Rick Hauge batting Sanchez took off for second, and as Mudcat second baseman Justin Toole moved towards second to cover the bag Hague connected on the pitch grounding a ball right back up the middle towards Toole who was in perfect position. Toole however let the ball get by him and into center field allowing Sanchez to move up to third. Rayl would get catcher David Freitas to ground into a double play but Sanchez came in to score on the play tying the game. Rayl got out of the inning and finished the night turning in a solid six innings giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits.
“That way a very good outing, he did a great job keeping us in the game. We had chances to give him more runs but it was good to have him keep us in the game like he did,” said Rodriguez.
Grant Sides was the first man out of the pen for the Mudcats in the seventh and gave up his first run pitching for the Mudcats. Center fielder Michael Taylor led off the inning with a long double off the bottom of the center field wall. The Nationals were then able to manufacture a run as King moved Taylor over to third on a sac bunt and then Taylor came in to score on a sac fly by Keyes to give the Nationals their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Adam Carr came in for the Nationals in the seventh in relief of Grace and much like the Nationals the Mudcats were able to strike right away against the bullpen. After a pop out by Cannon to lead off the inning, left fielder Delvi Cid reached on an error by shortstop Jason Martinson. Holt followed the error with a ground rule double to put two runners in scoring position for Toole. With the infield in Toole grounded a ball to the right of Martinson at short, Martinson was able to dive and knock the ball down but when he finally was able to collect the ball Cid had already crossed the plate and Toole was easily safe at first. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela then lined a single to left to break the tie as Holt scored, though Toole was thrown out trying to go to third.
Moncrief tacked on an insurance run in the eighth as he hit a towering solo shot over the right field wall to give closer Jose Flores a two run cushion in the ninth. Flores worked a quick ninth as he recorded his 11th save of the year.