Easterling spins quality start in narrow road loss

Easterling's outing, Nash's homer not enough at Carolina

Brannon Easterling recorded his third quality start of 2017 in Saturday's loss. (Jody Stewart/Winston-Salem Dash)

By Winston-Salem Dash | May 13, 2017 5:58 PM ET

ZEBULON, N.C. (May 13, 2017) - Despite a quality start from Brannon Easterling and a home run by Telvin Nash, the Dash dropped a 4-3 decision to the Carolina Mudcats on Saturday night at Five County Stadium.

Easterling (2-2) blanked the Mudcats (17-18) in the game's first three innings before a Isan Diaz solo shot that barely snuck inside the right field foul pole tied the game at 1-1. In the sixth, Carolina put runners on first and second, and red-hot Jake Gatewood laced a two-out, two-run double down the left field line to give the Mudcats the lead for good. With that knock, Gatewood extended the longest hitting streak in Minor League Baseball to 22 games.

For the second consecutive game, Winston-Salem (12-24) jumped out to an early lead thanks to a home run from Nash, who clocked an opposite-field bomb beyond the scoreboard in right-center field. Nash has clubbed 13 homers in 48 career games with Winston-Salem, while the former Astros farmhand now owns 115 blasts as a Minor Leaguer.

However, the Dash could not push across another run against Mudcats starter Cody Ponce (3-3), who limited Winston-Salem to one run on seven hits in a career-high eight innings. 

Ponce turned the game over to closer Nate Griep in the ninth, when Winston-Salem threatened to battle back. After a Zack Collins walk and a Nash double with nobody out, Louis Silverio rolled an RBI single through the right side, and Brady Conlan delivered a sacrifice fly to pull the Dash within a run.

Dash manager Willie Harris then elected to insert Johan Cruz as a pinch runner for Silverio. On the next pitch, Daniel Gonzalez lifted a pop up to shallow left field. Carolina shortstop Luis Aviles caught it with Cruz already around second base, so Aviles started an easy 6-4-3 double play that clinched the win for the Muddies.

During the Dash's three-game losing streak, the final out of each contest has been the potential go-ahead run. 

Behind Easterling, Andre Wheeler spun two innings and fanned a pair of Mudcats. His lone blemish was a leadoff home run from Lucas Erceg in the seventh, which proved to be the game-winning swing for Carolina.

Winston-Salem hopes to avoid a sweep in Sunday's 2 p.m. series finale from Five County Stadium. The Dash will send Dane Dunning (1-0, 3.52 ERA) to the bump for his third High-A start, while Carolina summons fellow right-hander Marcos Diplan (1-1, 5.01 ERA). Pregame coverage begins at 1:45 p.m. on wsdash.com/broadcast and the TuneIn Radio App. The game will also be streamed on MiLB.tv through the Mudcats' home feed.

#YourHomeTeam returns to BB&T Ballpark on Monday for an eight-game homestand that begins with the craziest deal in sports. It is an All-You-Can-Eat for Free Night, with hot dogs and burgers free through the seventh innings for all fans in attendance. For tickets, which start as low as $8 when purchased in advance, call (336) 714-2287 or visit wsdash.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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