WINSTON-SALEM- NC- Fresh off an eight-hour bus ride from Wilmington which saw the Potomac Nationals arrive in Winston-Salem at 6 a.m., the P-Nats defied the odds by not only showing up at Wake Forest Baseball Park bright-eyed, but by jumping all over the Dash on the strength of four early round-trippers. The bus-lag, however, reared its ugly head in the late innings as the Dash completed an improbable comeback, pushing past the P-Nats by the score of 13-10.
It was all Potomac early on as three runs came around to score in the first off Dash starter Justin Edwards. Michael Burgess blooped an RBI single to center to set the stage for Chris Marrero, who began a monstrous day at the dish by pounding an Edwards offering over the left-field wall for his eighth home run of the season to give the P-Nats a 3-0 cushion.
The team would tack on three more in the third thanks to more flexing from Marrero, who boomed his second home run in as many at bats, a three-run laser to right-center field to give the P-Nats a 6-0 lead. Marrero would finish the game 2-for-3 with five RBI to put his name atop the team lead in RBI with 42.
Brent Morel would cut the lead to 6-2 with a two-run shot off P-Nats All-Star Jeff Mandel in the bottom of the inning. Mandel, starting for the first time in the second half, would grind out a gutsy effort, tossing six innings while giving up five runs (three earned) and striking out three. He would leave with the lead, but the Dash would not quit on a Sunday night in North Carolina.
Potomac would push the lead to 8-2 in the fourth as Devin Ivany and Aaron Seuss would launch back-to-back blasts to lead off the frame. Seuss has been a part of the last three times the P-Nats have gone back-to-back, doing it twice during the 2008 season. With the P-Nats leading 8-2, the rout was on, but then the Nationals' defense would betray them in the bottom of the fourth.
Back to back errors by Boomer Whiting in center allowed for three runs to come across to cut the lead in half at 8-5. In all, the Nats would commit five errors on the night. Mandel would settle down, however, retiring eight straight before turning it over to the bullpen with a 9-5 lead.
Adam Carr would be the first man out of the 'pen, but he would run into a buzzsaw of Dash bats. Four consecutive hits including Morel's second home run of the night, a three-run shot to trim the lead to one, would spell the end of the night for Carr. Cole Kimball (1-5) came on in relief, but a wild pitch brought home the tying run and all of a sudden, what was a laugher for the P-Nats had turned into a nail-biter in just one inning.
The P-Nats would not lay down and took the lead right back in the top of the eighth. Ivany roped a two-out single up the middle, advanced to second on a balk, and took third on a wild pitch by Santo Luis (3-4). Seuss would follow with a bloop double to right to give the P-Nats the lead once again at 10-9. Kimball came on again in the bottom half of the frame, but the Dash would prove too much.
Kent Gerst would lead off with a bunt single, advancing all the way to third when Kimball threw wildly to first. Dale Mollenhauer would then blast a towering fly ball to dead-center field that would glance off Whiting's glove for an RBI triple to tie the game at 10.
The Dash would load the bases with one out, and a questionable hit batter by Kimball would push the go-ahead run across, giving the Dash their first lead of the ballgame. It was not clear whether or not Kimball's pitch hit the knob of the bat or Seth Loman's protective elbow armor, but the umpire ruled it a hit batsmen. Trent Jewett came out to argue the call, and was subsequently ejected for just the second time this season.
Logan Johnson would hit a ground ball through the hole on the right side to score two more, and Henry Mabee would finish off the P-Nats in the ninth for his eighth save of the season.
In the battle of the bullpens, the Dash 'pen threw five innings, allowing just two runs on three hits. By comparison, the Nats' relievers tossed two frames, giving up eight runs on eight hits.
The Dash and Nats will square off in game of this four-game series Monday night with first pitch at 7:05 ET. You can catch all the action live on www.potomacnationals.com with Dan McGinn and Anthony Masterson starting with the pregame show at 6:45 ET.
For more information on tickets, daily promotions, and all things P-Nats, call (703) 590-2311 or log onto www.potomacnationals.com to join the party!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.