The Fayetteville Woodpeckers were held scoreless for just the third time this year as the Potomac Nationals snatched a series victory Monday night on Hay Street. Austin Hansen worked five innings on the mound for Fayetteville allowing just one run in his start for the Woodpeckers. On the backend of the tandem Nivaldo Rodriguez, set a Woodpeckers record with fourteen consecutive scoreless innings pitched in his last four outings combined. Still, the Potomac offense tacked on just enough, scoring the first run in the top of the fourth and adding two more in the top of the eighth to complete the 3-0 shutout victory at Segra Stadium.
Austin Hansen (2-2) started his solid night on the hill by striking out Gage Canning and then retiring the next two batters that he faced to end the top of the first. Tim Cate (2-2) had a similar bottom of the first on the mound for the Nationals, fanning both Jonathan Arauz and Chandler Taylor to go three up, three down in the frame. Hansen continued to deal in the top of the second, facing the minimum yet again. In fact the Woodpeckers' hurler did not allow a hit until there was two away in the top of the third. It was Bryan Mejia at the bottom of the order who finally earned a knock, but Hansen immediately sent down Canning to end the inning.
It wasn't until the top of the fourth that Potomac finally notched a run against Hansen, after Cole Freeman started the inning by crushing a triple to right center field. With the go ahead run now 90-feet away, Hansen locked in striking out Aldrem Corredor and forcing Alex Dunlap into a ground out. Jack Sundberg, however, drew a walk to put runners at the corners for the Nationals and Gilbert Lara at the plate. With the Potomac shortstop in the batter's box Sundberg took off to swipe second, the throw to second was just a tad off line allowing for Freeman to sprint home in the successful steal of home that put the Nationals up 1-0. The Fayetteville starter ended up retiring Lara on a line out right back to the mound to end the inning and move into the bottom of the fourth with just a slight Potomac lead.
The Woodpeckers offense made some noise against Cate in the bottom of the fourth, with Jacob Meyers leading off by slicing a single. With one gone, Jake Adams and Corey Julks laced base hits of their own to load the bases and move the tying run to third. This did not rattle Cate who forced Michael Papierski into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. The trio of hits in the bottom of the fourth were the last hits Fayetteville got off Cate, who went through the sixth, allowing just one more baserunner on a walk, and striking out five in the scoreless outing for the Nationals hurler.
The Woodpeckers made a pitching change in the top of the sixth, sending out Nivaldo Rodriguez in the scheduled tandem. Rodriguez came out firing, tossing a scoreless frame and securing a franchise record of thirteen consecutive shutout innings. The top of the seventh went smoothy for Rodriguez as well, allowing a hit but striking out a pair to stretch the scoreless streak to fourteen frames. With Fayetteville still down 1-0, the Nationals offense finally got something going against the Fayetteville reliever, with Gage Canning drawing a leadoff base on balls. Cole Freeman followed by laying down a well placed bunt on the third base line, the throw from Adams at third to Scott Schreiber at first was off target allowing Canning to come home and made it 2-0 on the error. Rodriguez then walked back-to-back batters in Corridor and Dunlap to load the bases for the Nationals with no outs. Jack Sundberg chopped into a twin killing, but Freeman was still able to score pushing the Potomac lead to 3-0. The frame was ended when Lara struck out, but the P-Nats notched two runs to go up three heading into the final inning and a half.
Against Nationals reliever Aaron Fletcher Chandler Taylor drew a two out walk in the bottom of the eighth, but the Fayetteville outfielder was left stranded after Fletcher retired Jake Adams to end the inning. Joey Gonzalez came in for the ninth sending down Nationals in order for his lone inning of work, but a comeback was too much for the Woodpeckers in the bottom of the ninth as Frankie Bartow went three up, three down to end the game and solidify a 3-0 victory for the Nationals.
The Woodpeckers fall to 43-51 on the year and 12-13 in the second half. The Nationals on the other hand are 42-50 now with a 12-13 record in the second half as well. Fayetteville and the rest of the Carolina League get to rest tomorrow in the scheduled day off. The Woodpeckers return to action Wednesday with a trip to Lynchburg. First pitch is set for 7:00pm.
The Fayetteville Woodpeckers are the Advanced Single-A affiliate of the 2017 World Champion Houston Astros and play in their Inaugural Season at beautiful Segra Stadium in downtown Fayetteville. Segra Stadium, a $40 million state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue, features space for over 5,200 fans, natural grass, a 25x70 LED video scoreboard, six luxury suites, four field boxes, the premium AEVEX Veterans Club level, Healy's Bar and outdoor party deck, a kid's zone, and more. With a rich history of baseball in the city of Fayetteville and Cumberland County, the Woodpeckers are thrilled to write a new chapter with their inaugural campaign on Hay Street. Fans are encouraged to visit FayettevilleWoodpeckers.com to purchase tickets, learn more about the team, and find out about upcoming events and promotions at the ballpark. Fans may also reach the Woodpeckers by visiting the BB&T Box Office in front of Segra Stadium, calling (910) 339-1989, or emailing Woodpeckers@Astros.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.