(ZEBULON, NC) - The Carolina Mudcats scored twice in the seventh and twice again in the eighth to down the Potomac Nationals 5-2 in a pivotal playoff race game. Coupled with Wilmington's victory over Myrtle Beach, the P-Nats elimination number is one in the Northern Division Second Half race.
Carolina opened up the scoring in the top of first inning against Potomac starter RHP Taylor who was making second start in the Carolina League. Justin Toole hit a one out and singled and was driven in on a Gio Urshela two-run homer that just cleared the left field fence. The Mudcats led 2-0.
The Nationals couldn't get to Mudcats hurler RHP Will Roberts until the sixth inning. JP Ramirez led off the inning with a double to right-center field. Ramirez scored on a Matt Skole RBI single to bring Potomac within 2-1. The P-Nats tied the game 2-2 when Adrian Sanchez scored on a Kevin Keyes groundout with the infield back.
Hill ran into trouble in the bottom of the seventh inning allowing Tyler Cannon to hit a lead off double and Cannon would advance on a wild pitch to get to third with no out. After Ronny Rodriguez popped out, Todd Hankins smashed a single through a drawn in left side of the infield to allow Carolina to regain the lead. Neil Holland came on in relief for Potomac and allowed an RBI double to the first batter he faced in Alex Monsalve which increased the Mudcats lead to 4-2.
Potomac mounted a rally in the top of the eighth. Back to back singles from Francisco Soriano and Sanchez put two on with one out and chased Roberts from the contest. Robert Nixon came into the the contest out of the bullpen. Kevin Keyes hit a single to load the bags for Steven Souza Jr. with two outs. A low fastball on 3-2 was called strike three as the P-Nats left the bases loaded in the eighth.
The first batter of the bottom of the eighth Tony Wolters hit a solo home run out to right off of Ryan Demmin to increase the Carolina lead to 5-2. A Todd Hankins bloop single scored another run and increased the advantage to 6-2 for the Mudcats.
In the ninth, the Nationals went down 1-2-3 and Nixon picked up his first Carolina League save getting the final five outs of the game.
Roberts (5-9) earned the win by walking none and striking out four over seven and a third innings scattering eight hits. Hill (0-1) got his first decision and took the loss giving up four runs over six and a third innings. He didn't walk any batters and struck out four as well.
The Nationals continue their four-game set with the Mudcats tomorrow at 7:15 PM in North Carolina. RHP Rob Gilliam (1-1, 4.66) makes his second start of the season with Potomac against RHP Jordan Cooper (8-7, 3.63) of Carolina. The Potomac Nationals are celebrating their 35th Anniversary of professional baseball and family fun, for all your ticket needs please visit www.potomacnationals.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.