Carolina Mudcats fall to Potomac Nationals on walk-off single
POTOMAC, Md. – In a back and forth contest throughout, the Carolina Mudcats lost 6-5 on a walk-off single to the Potomac Nationals Monday night.
With relief pitcher Louis Head (0-1) on the mound in the bottom of the ninth and the game tied, Nationals third baseman Khayyan Norfork was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, and after advancing to second base, raced around to score the winning run on a walk-off single to give the Nationals the win.
With the win, Potomac (6-5) claimed three out of four against the Mudcats (6-5) to win the series.
Left hander Shawn Morimando took the mound for his third start of the season and pitched a solid five innings, giving up three runs on five hits, but two of those hits were home runs. Morimando also struck out three and walked only one.
Potomac took the early lead, putting two on the board in the bottom of the first inning. A leadoff single put a runner on base early, and then with two outs, Nationals first baseman Kevin Keyes hit a home run over the center-field wall to give the Nationals the early lead.
Carolina began to battle back in the second inning, cutting the lead in half. After right fielder Anthony Gallas led off the inning with a double to left field and advanced to third on a wild pitch, first baseman Charlie Valerio drove him in with a two-out RBI single to center field.
After trading two scoreless frames apiece, the Nationals broke through and added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when Potomac right fielder Brandon Miller led off the inning with a home run to center field.
The Mudcats fought right back in the top of the fifth inning to cut the lead back to one. Second baseman Todd Hankins ripped a double to left field, his second of the game, with one out, and moved to third base on a fly ball. With two out, shortstop Erik Gonzalez hit an RBI single to right field to drive in Hankins and cut the lead to one.
The Mudcats held Potomac scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning, and then went on to tie the game in the top of the sixth inning. After Nationals starter Brian Rauh was relieved to begin the inning, Carolina went to work. CatcherAlex Monsalve led off the inning with a single to center and advanced to third on a single by second basemanTorsten Boss. With two outs, Valerio was walked on a wild pitch and Monsalve raced home to tie the score at three. However, Hankins struck out to end the inning before the Mudcats could score again to take the lead.
Right hander Benny Suarez took over for Morimando in the sixth inning, and despite allowing two runners to get on base, Suarez kept the Nationals from scoring and escaped the inning.
Potomac battled back in the seventh inning and retook the lead after getting the Mudcats to go out one-two-three in the top of the inning.
After the Nationals loaded the bases with just one out and chased Suarez from the game, they took advantage against relief pitcher Carlos Melo. An RBI groundout scored one run, and a throwing error by third baseman James Robertsallowed a second run to score to give the Nationals a two-run lead.
The lead did not last for long.
Monsalve and Gallas went back-to-back with home runs to lead off the eighth inning to tie the game once again. Roberts attempted to make up for his error in the last half inning as he singled with one out and made it to second base, but was unable to score to give the Mudcats the lead.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth, Head relieved Melo with a runner on second base. A groundout allowed the runner to advance to third base, but a strikeout stranded the runner there and kept the Nationals from retaking the lead.
Head was handed his first loss of the season after giving up the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Carolina is scheduled to return to Five County Stadium Tuesday, and look to rebound from a tough loss as the team faces the defending Carolina League champion Salem Red Sox for the first time in 2014. Right hander Michael Peoples is set to get the start.
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.