Zebulon, NC-With three separate two-out RBI hits spread over the first five innings, the Potomac Nationals (32-35) emerged victorious over the Carolina Mudcats (34-31) in the first matchup between the teams in 2017. LHP Taylor Guilbeau (W, 1-0) tossed five-shutout innings, while the P-Nats tagged LHP Kodi Medeiros (L, 3-5) for four runs over just 4.2 frames.
Potomac led from the get go on Thursday night, as the P-Nats plated a run in each of the first two innings. CF Victor Robles got hit by a pitch to begin the game, his league leading 13th HBP. A wild pitch moved Robles to second base, and after Medeiros tallied two strikeouts, RF Dale Carey put Potomac on the board with a two-out RBI double to the right field corner.
In the top of the second inning, DH Rhett Wiseman walked with one out, 3B David Masters followed with a single, and after Medeiros got 2B Bryan Mejia on a fly out, Robles made it 2-0 with a two-out RBI single. Robles departed the game after the RBI single.
Guilbeau withstood the few challenges by the Mudcats in his second start of the season. CF Corey Ray led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, but Carolina stranded him at third base. 3B Lucas Erceg began the bottom of the second inning with a base hit, but never made it beyond first base. Ray singled in the third inning, but DH Troy Stokes Jr. grounded into a double play.
The Mudcats finally managed to put multiple runners on base in the fourth inning, as two straight batters reached with two outs, but Guilbeau got 2B Luis Aviles to fly out. In the bottom of the fifth, a pair of singles from RF Carlos Belonis and Stokes Jr. put men on first and second base, while a wild pitch put two men in scoring position. Guilbeau finished off the outing and stranded the runners, as he retired SS Isan Diaz on a ground ball.
The P-Nats plated the eventual winning runs with two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Medeiros quickly retired the first two hitters of the inning, but then walked both Carey and 1B Ian Sagdal . RHP Jordan Yamamoto entered from the Carolina bullpen and immediately walked SS Edwin Lora , which loaded the bases. Wiseman lined a two-out single to right field, which plated both Carey and Sagdal, and made it 4-0.
The Mudcats threatened in the seventh inning against RHP Kyle Schepel , but the right-handed reliever worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam. RHP Gilberto Mendez retired Carolina in order in the eighth inning, but ran into trouble in the final frame. C Max McDowell drew a one-out walk, while Belonis followed with a single. After Mendez struck out Ray, Stokes Jr. drove home two runs with a double off the left field wall. Representing the game-tying run, Diaz took a called third strike from Mendez, which ended the game.
The victory for Potomac was the sixth in the past eight games. Seven different P-Nats hitters recorded at least one hit, while Page and Wiseman tallied a multi-hit effort. The P-Nats won despite just three hits in 17 chances with RISP and 13 men left on base. Carolina left 10 men on and went just 2-11 with RISP.
Friday night, RHP Tyler Skulina (1-0, 1.59) is set to make his first start for the P-Nats. Skulina made 27 starts in Double-A in 2016. For the Mudcats, RHP Cody Ponce (5-5, 3.70) is set to try to level the series. Ponce has given up more than three earned runs in just one of his last seven starts.
First pitch on Friday night is set for 7:00pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:45pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.
The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League play at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia, and are the Carolina League affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Potomac Nationals have claimed five Carolina League Championship titles (1982, 1989, 2008, 2010, and 2014) and nine CL Northern Division Championships. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2017 season and beyond are available, as well as corporate outings for the 2017 season to watch the future stars of the Washington Nationals at The Pfitz. For more information on Potomac Nationals 2017single game tickets, season tickets, mini plans, group outings, and picnic packages, visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com or call the Potomac Nationals Ticket office at 703-590-2311.
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