The bullpen came through for Potomac with four and 1/3rd scoreless innings and a bases-loaded escape in the 5th as the P-Nats fileted the Mudcats, 7-5.
The offense wasn’t too shabby, either, scoring six times with two outs to give Ivan Pineyro, the newest member of the rotation, a cushion to work with. Adrian Nieto homered in the first inning to complete a three-run rally that begun with a Michael Taylor double to right, while Jason Martinson followed Taylor’s second opposite-field double with his second RBI single to left.
Turns out the 21-year-old would need the padding, as he gave up single runs in the first two innings and long hit in the third. He struck out the side in the fourth, but issued a walk.
While he featured a nasty changeup, Pineyro left way too many pitches up and the Mudcats collected three straight hits to open the 5th and cut the lead to 6-3. It’s always a matter of debate how much leeway the manager has in lifting a starter in the minors, but only an idiot would argue that Pineyro wasn’t hung out to dry.
Instead, Pineyro walked three of the next five batters as Carolina scored twice more. Greg Holt was finally summoned with two outs and the bases loaded to face the inning’s ninth batter, and he got the final out of the 5th to preserve the 6-5 lead.
Potomac got the insurance run in the 7th thanks to an error on a would-be 3-6-3 DP off the bat of Kevin Keyes following a walk and a stolen base by Martinson and a single to center by Nieto.
Holt would dance around two singles in the 6th to get the win, while Brian Rauh came within a two-out triple of two perfect innings in the 7th and 8th to deliver the ball the new closer, Robert Benincasa.
The Mudcats’ Jerrud Sabourin singled to open the 9th, completing a 4-for-4 night with a walk. Benincasa, however, worked around him to strike out the side and earn his first High-A save.
The win moves Potomac to 2-0 on the season as all-star Robbie Ray takes the mound in the series finale, opposed by Carolina’s Nick Pasquale (0-4, 4.31).