Due to the impending potential impact of Hurricane Florence on the North Carolina coastline, the Carolina League decided Tuesday afternoon that the Mills Cup between the high Single-A Potomac Nationals and the Buies Creek Astros would be changed from a best-of-five series to a one-game, winner-take-all championship in Buies Creek, N.C. on Tuesday night.
Potomac tallied a run in the fifth on a Nick Banks RBI double to go up 1-0. In the eighth, the Astros tied it at 1-1 on a Jake Adams solo shot. The game went into extra innings. Jonathan Arauz’s sacrifice fly in the 11th brought home the winning run. The P-Nats fell 2-1 in 11.
The P-Nats had a good chance to score in the top of the inning, but Andruw Monasterio struck out in an epic battle with two men on to end the threat.
The P-Nats pitching staff, led by starter Joan Baez, allowed only two runs in 10 2/3 innings on seven hits, striking out 10 but walking six batters.
This was the 10th time the P-Nats battled for the Mills Cup. They have won the title five times, most recently in 2014.
Even with the loss in a one-game playoff, the P-Nats’ 2018 season will not soon be forgotten, and the players will use the experience of winning a playoff series and playing in a championship game to help them along in their careers. Losing in a winner-take-all game in the 11th inning when you found out the best-of-five series was being shortened to one game just four hours before first pitch is nothing to feel sorry about.
Their accomplishments will help them get a head start on the offseason and prepare them for 2019, something six other Carolina League teams wish they had the benefit from heading into October.