Dash Don't Do As Roman Does: Mitch 4-for-4, but Nationals take it late

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Mitch Roman had four hits and big-leaguer Manny Bañuelos struck out seven in less than five innings, but the Dash dropped this one to the Potomac Nationals after some late back-and-forth.

Bañuelos made his first rehab appearance with the Dash after two such starts for the AZL Sox. He was shelled in that first start in Arizona, laid down the law in the second, and found a decently happy medium in today’s game. Here’s a fun fact: when a major league pitcher is rehabbing the minors, even if they’re doing so at a level that doesn’t use the same juiced ball as the majors (so, any non-AAA level), they still have to use the juiced ball while they’re on the mound. So for almost five innings, the Potomac Nationals got their first look at a baseball that carries more than any baseball has carried before, and a few of them were able to capitalize on that.

Most notably among these was Alex Dunlap, Potomac Nationals catcher, who absolutely crunched a baseball in the bottom of the second, sending it flying to center field; it’s possible that it would have been a home run even without the major league ball, but it probably wouldn’t have scraped off the batter’s eye, anyway. 

Dunlap would return to haunt Bañuelos again in the fourth. KJ Harrison led the inning off with a double, then advanced to third on Gage Canning’s single. Dunlap followed this up with a deep double to left, past the outstretched glove of the 6’4” Craig Dedelow at the track, to give the P-Nats a 2-0 lead. Bañuelos wriggled out of a major league jam, runners on second and third with nobody out, in a major league way: he induced a ground ball out to shortstop, holding both runners, then struck out the next two batters swinging.

He almost made it through five full, slicing through the first two outs of the fifth with ease, but walked Aldrem Corredor on a full count, his 86th pitch of the night and his Sox-dictated limit. He exited having pitched 4.2 innings, allowing five hits (three doubles, one home run) and two runs, striking out seven and walking none.

Jake Elliott came on in relief and made short work of the rest of the fifth inning, had no trouble in the sixth, then got a little bit got in the seventh. A leadoff walk and subsequent single put two on with nobody out, and they both advanced on a sacrifice bunt. A sac fly was then able to score the runner from third before Elliott induced a grounder to end the inning, breaking a tie and putting the P-Nats back up, 3-2. 

Bennett Sousa relieved Elliott, and although his first inning of work was plagued by two singles, he also struck out the side. In the ninth, though, despite strong defensive efforts, he was unable to strand all of his baserunners. A leadoff walk advanced to second on a bunt, then tried to score on a single; Dedelow had other ideas. An eye-popping cannon of a throw from left zeroed perfectly into Evan Skoug’s waiting glove, and the runner ran directly into it for the out.

They were not so fortunate in the next at-bat, however, and the follow-up single wasn’t hit to a spot where any fielder could get to it in time to even have a chance at stopping the run from scoring, making it 4-3, P-Nats. Skoug, in a final act of defiance, absolutely nailed the runner trying to steal second to end the ninth.

It was a little bit of a slow day at the plate for everyone except Steele Walker, who doubled and singled, and Mitch Roman, who was responsible for a plurality of Dash hits (four of eleven). They were unable to get more than one baserunner aboard at one time until the fifth, when, unsurprisingly, Steele Walker and Mitch Roman contributed to the first two Dash runs. Roman singled directly into the shift, literally hitting a ground ball to one of the three infielders waiting for him on the left side of the diamond, but it bounced off his glove and he fumbled the throw, allowing Roman not just to reach safely on a single but to make it all the way to second. Roman scored on Tate Blackman’s single, Blackman advancing to second on the throw, and Walker’s 23rd Dash double (33rd on the season) drove Blackman in to tie it up at two.

They would score just one more, in the eighth, tying it up one more time. Dedelow, who has singled at least five times this year on bunts down the third base line against the shift, hit a chopper that way that no shifted infielder was able to get for a single, but then was picked off and caught in a rundown. With two outs, Carlos Perez singled and was replaced on the basepaths by Yeyson Yrizarri. Jameson Fisher walked, putting two on for Roman; he came through with his fourth hit of the night, a single to right field that scored Yrizarri, but was thrown out trying to make it a double. 

There was some late excitement in the ninth, when, with two outs, Steele Walker hit an infield single to third. Tyler Frost singled to right, and Walker went for it, rounding third as the tying run, but the relay was on point and he ran into a catcher’s mitt full of third out.

The Dash wrap up their homestand on Sunday at 2 pm, Taylor Varnell on the mound.

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