Woodbridge, VA---With a 7-4 lead entering the ninth inning, it appeared as though the Potomac Nationals (51-43, 17-9) were going to cruise to a second consecutive victory over the Winston-Salem Dash (40-57, 12-15). The Dash had other plans though, as Winston-Salem loaded the bases on a single, a walk, and a hit batsman with one out in the top of the ninth before pinch-hitter Telvin Nash turned a three-run deficit into a one-run lead with a grand slam over the right field wall. In what then looked like it would be a crushing defeat, the P-Nats had a runner on first base and one out for RF Drew Vettleson in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the right fielder cleared the right field wall as well, as Potomac picked up it's third walk-off home run of the season. Vettleson finished the night 4-5 with two home runs and a season high six RBIs.
The game got off to a rough start for Potomac, as the Dash plated three runs in the top of the first inning. A critical error by SS Osvaldo Abreu propelled the inning, as RHP Whit Mayberry (ND) gave up just one earned run in the frame despite a three on the scoreboard. LF Nick Basto made it 2-0 following Abreu's error with a two-run double, while he scored two batters later on an RBI single by 1B Marcus Davis. Mayberry then went more than four innings before he allowed another hit, as he retired 13 consecutive Dash hitters between the second and the sixth frames. The righty allowed four runs, two earned, over seven innings.
Making his fourth start of the season vs. Potomac, RHP Jordan Stephens (ND) was great over the first four innings, but slowly wilted and allowed Potomac to get back into the game. With just two hits in the first four innings, Potomac trailed 3-0 halfway through the game. Vettleson provided his first of four hits on the night with a leadoff home run in the fifth inning, then plated two more in the sixth with a two-out single. Stephens surrendered three runs on five hits over six-innings in his third no-decision vs. Potomac.
Both sides scored in the seventh, though Potomac took the lead with a four-run frame. The Dash went ahead 4-3 on a leadoff home run by Davis in the top of the inning, but Potomac answered immediately against the bullpen duo of RHP Connor Walsh and RHP Jacob Morris. Three straight hitters reached to start the inning against Walsh, as Abreu tied the game with an RBI single. Two batters later, DH Ryan Zimmerman, who struck out four times in the game, drilled a two-run single into centerfield. Zimmerman's lone hit on the night put Potomac on top 6-4, while the Washington Nationals' first baseman scored on a two-out single by Vettleson against Morris, who got the final out of the inning. Walsh was charged with four earned runs in just 0.2 innings. The P-Nats led 7-4 after seven innings.
Out of the Potomac bullpen, RHP Sammy Solis, also on rehab from Washington like Zimmerman, allowed a leadoff single but then struck out the next three men that he faced. After Potomac went quietly in the bottom of the eighth, LHP Justin Thomas entered in search of his fourth save of the season. After the lefty retired the first man in the inning, he gave up a single to Davis, walked 2B Toby Thomas, and hit C Brett Austin in the cleats with an 0-2 pitch. With the bases loaded, Nash pinch-hit for SS Ryan Leonards, and with a full count, Nash cleared everything in right field. Nash's grand slam made it 8-7 Winston Salem. RHP Wirkin Estevez (W, 2-4) then entered and struck out the next two Dash hitters and kept it a one-run game.
The fourth pitcher of the night for the Dash, LHP Ryan Riga (L, 1-1) walked 1B Jose Marmolejos to start the bottom of the ninth. After a failed sacrifice bunt attempt from LF Alec Keller resulted in a force play at second base, Vettleson stepped in and tallied a hit for the fourth consecutive at-bat, as his second home run of the night gave Potomac a walk-off 9-8 win. It was Vettleson's second multiple home run game in eight days, as he also had two home runs at Winston-Salem on July 15th. His six RBIs were the most in a single game for a Potomac player thus far in 2016.
With an opportunity for a series victory and potentially more, the P-Nats will host the Dash for a pair of games Saturday night at Pfitzner Stadium. Game one will see Potomac RHP Austen Williams (0-3, 4.91) take the hill against Dash RHP Zach Thompson (1-0, 6.55). In game two, RHP Trey Lambert (0-0, 4.63) will make his first start of the season for the P-Nats, while RHP Kelvis Valerio (3-3, 4.70) is set for his fifth start of the season for Winston-Salem. The doubleheader begins at 5:00pm, while game two will begin approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the opener.
The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network will carry live coverage Thursday night beginning with the "P-Nats Leadoff Show" at 4:45pm. P-Nats Gameday Audio on the Potomac Nationals Baseball Network is available at www.potomacnationals.com or via the TuneIn Radio App.
Gates open Saturday at 4:30pm, as fans can celebrate "Halfway to Festivus" with the P-Nats. The first 1,500 fans to the ballpark before game one will take home a Frank Costanza Festivus bobblehead, presented by Paxton Companies. The night will include many Festivus themed promotions as well as another jersey auction, presented by Paxton Companies, with the proceeds from the auction set to benefit the Human Fund. After game two, WTOP presents a fireworks show and kids can run the bases. The series vs. the Dash concludes Sunday night, first pitch at 6:05pm. Sunday night Is Military Appreciation Night, presented by Honor Brewing, Reality Realty, and Great American Buffet. The Pfitz will play host to military members and their families for a night honoring their service to our country. Postgame fireworks will follow Sunday's game as well, presented by WTOP.
The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League play at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia, and are the Class-A Advanced 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. Potomac Nationals 2016 season tickets, mini plans, and single game tickets are now on sale. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2016 season and beyond are available. Corporate outing reservations for the 2016 season to watch the future stars of the Washington Nationals at The Pfitz may be placed now as the P-Nats offer discounted group ticket rates and all-inclusive picnics. Visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com or call the Potomac Nationals Ticket Office at 703-590-2311 for more information!
-- Potomac Nationals --
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.