Michael Taylor was hitless in six at-bats with three strikeouts when he came to the plate a few minutes before midnight Wednesday at Pfitzner Stadium.
But postseason baseball has a way of turning goats into heroes, and the Nationals' No. 4 prospect played the latter part as he lined a walk-off single in the 14th inning that gave Potomac a 2-1 win over Lynchburg in Game 1 of the Carolina League semifinals.
"I was trying to put the bat on the ball. I struggled a little bit earlier in the day," Taylor said in the boisterous Nationals' clubhouse. "I was looking for a pitch to hit. I tried to stick with it [after six hitless trips] and let the ball travel. We ended up getting it in the end."
The P-Nats tied the game, 1-1, in the ninth as Randolph Oduber lined a two-out double to right-center off reliever John Cornely to score pinch-runner Will Piwnica-Worms.
"That was a huge hit for Odie," Potomac manager Brian Daubach said of the 24-year-old outfielder, who batted .238 during the regular season but had three hits in the opener of the best-of-3 series. "He has been frustrated at times this year [playing behind top prospects]."
Lynchburg took a 1-0 lead in the third against Potomac starter Sammy Solis as Emerson Landoni delivered a two-out single to right to score Cory Brownsten. Landoni finished with three of the Hillcats' seven hits.
The teams combined to go 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position in a game that featured 438 pitches. It lasted 4 1/2 hours, making it the Natoinals' longest this season in terms of time and innings, and only a few dozen fans were left from the announced crowd of 1,760.
"The pitchers did a great job," said Lynchburg manager Luis Salazar. "They had more chances than we did early on."
Hillcats starter Greg Ross, released by the Tigers in Spring Training, retired his first nine batters and recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts over six two-hit innings. The right-hander, who turns 24 on Friday, ranked sixth in the league with a 3.27 ERA.
"He was right on," Lynchburg pitching coach Derek Botelho said, adding that Ross had his best slider of the year.
The Nationals fanned 15 times and the Hillcats had 13 strikeouts. Brian Dupra (1-0) got the win with two hitless innings, while Robert Fish (0-1) was tagged with the loss.
Solis, a 2010 second-round pick, yielded a run on three hits and a walk with five strikeouts over five innings. He missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery.
"His health is good. That was a hurdle for us," Nationals director of player development Doug Harris said before the game. "He is building volume and just maximizing his length every day."
Game 2 is Thursday in Potomac.
In other action:
Salem 1, Myrtle Beach 0 (10 innings)
Right-hander Alec Asher of the Pelicans and Luis Diaz of the Red Sox hooked up in a pitchers' duel that remained scoreless into the 10th.
Matty Johnson singled with one out, moved up on a base hit by Henry Ramos and scored on a throwing error by third baseman Drew Robinson after Cody Koback delivered Salem's third straight single.
Asher allowed five hits over seven innings, while Diaz lasted eight and also yielded five hits. Box score »