It might not have clinched the division (it didn’t) but The season finale for the Potomac Nationals gave the home nine some momentum for the playoffs…and a regular-season finish to remember for a longtime P-Nat.
For five seasons, Brian Peacock has been a part of the Potomac Nationals, his stay extended by a variety of season-ending and season-shortening injuries, ranging from the frightening (drilled in the noggin) to the sublime (hairline fracture of vertebrae via body slam) to the mundane (broken pinky). He’s gone from a 22-year-old hopeful to a 27-year-old “OG,” but a fan favorite for his grit and hustle.
Not to mention, he’s still a decent ballplayer.
Potomac began the bottom of the eighth two innings removed from a seeing a 2-1 lead evaporate (slowly) in the top of the sixth. A double, a walk, and an error loaded the bases for Destin Hood with nobody out. Kinston’s third baseman snagged a liner to the 5/6 hole and beat the runner back to the bag for what seemed like a rally-killer.
But Peacock, the catcher (though he did pitch in a blowout this year) was unfazed and delivered the clutch, two-out hit: a double to right field that plated the tying runs. After a wild pitch, and a Steven Souza single, Peacock would score what would prove to be the game-winning run.
Potomac would pile on three more runs with a steal, a Zach Walters single, and back-to-back doubles by Sandy Leon and Jose Lozada (on a first-pitch fastball, natch) before Cutter Dykstra, who led off the inning with a double, ended it with a grounder to short.
The big inning would make a winner out of Rob Wort, though the first man out of the pen, Trevor Holder, got four key outs and stranded two runners in the 6th inning to keep the game within reach. Hector Nelo got the last three outs in keeping with the LaRussa model of bullpen usage.
With the win, Potomac finishes the second half with a 39-31 mark, same as the Frederick Keys but lost the division title on a tiebreaker. The two teams will meet in the first round for the second straight year with Games One and Two
(and five, if necessary) set for Frederick on Wedenesday and Thursday and Games Three and Four (if necessary) slated for Friday and Saturday.
UPDATE: As referenced in the comments, both the Carolina League and the Potomac Nationals official recap are stating that the team has indeed won the second-half title, with the former implying that they won the title outright while the latter clarifying that Potomac and Frederick have tied for the division title. There is also some conflicting data regarding the host of a possible Game 5. I have contacted the league office asking for a clarification.
UPDATE #2: The Carolina League office has confirmed that Frederick will indeed be the host of a Game 5, if necessary.