If Potomac clinches both halves, the proper thing to do is to send a “Thank You” to Carolina.
That’s because the Mudcats lost to the P-Nats for the ninth straight time on Sunday night by a 7-6 score. Combined with yet another loss by the Hillcats, Potomac now leads the Northern Division by three games with two weeks left to go.
By no means of course, has it been easy. All three games this weekend were one-run decisions, which even Harold Reynolds could tell you means that just one break or play that had gone other way could have reversed the outcome.
Early on, it certainly looked like Carolina was about to get some semblance of payback — overall, it’s been 15 of 19 games won by
Potomac — as they jumped on Matt Swynenberg for three runs in the 1st on a single-triple-double-error sequence with two outs.
Following a 1-2-3 bottom of the 1st, the Mudcats loaded the bases in the top of the 2nd with a single and two walks before hitting a long flyball to deep center that Isaac Ballou ran down for the third out.
Potomac went in order again in the 2nd, but got things going in the bottom of the 3rd. IF Khayyan Norfork caught his counterpart at 3B napping with a perfectly placed bunt for the first P-Nat baserunner. Brandon Miller and Pedro Severino both walked to get the bases tipsy.
After a nifty snag of a popup by the Mudcat dugout, Tony Renda steered one into right for a 1-0 score. Carolina got pinch-hitter Estarlin Martinez (no word on why Pleffner was lifted) to strike out, Randolph Oduber got the Homer Simpson RBI with a HBP, then Stephen Perez laced one into right-center for a two-run single and a 4-3 P-Nats lead.
Swynenberg worked through the 4th, retiring the last seven batters for an uneven performance of three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks. Potomac added one more in the 4th, two more in the 5th to open up a 7-3 lead.
The game seemed in hand when Bryan Harper took the hill in the 9th — following two and 2/3rds scoreless relief from Cody Davis, who got the win — having retired three of four batters faced by way of the K, beginning with a whiff that stranded two in the 7th.
Give credit to the Mudcats, as they loaded the bases with two singles and a walk to chase Harper, then unloaded them against Jake Walsh with a walk and a single before Walsh got his bearings and retired the next three batters for the save, his first at High-A.
It’s their last scheduled off day today before Potomac begins a stretch of 17 games in 14 days — all against the rest of the Northern Division. They’re in the driver’s seat, though, leading Lynchburg by five in the loss column with four games left (this Tuesday through Thursday), Wimington by five with five games left (next Tuesday through Friday), and Frederick by seven with eight games left.