Kinston’s three-run rally with two outs in the second inning proved to be too much for Potomac to overcome, as they dropped the first game of the doubleheader by a 5-3 tally.
Evan Bronson got the start but was not sharp this afternoon, allowing a long leadoff double to start the game and then misplaying a sacrifice bunt to set up runners on the corners with nobody out. After a popup to the three-hole batter, Adam Abraham, it appeared for just a moment that he would clean up his own mess, like the good pitchers do and like he’s done before.
Instead, he would walk the next two batters to give Kinston a 1-0 lead.
Bronson would get a liner to second and a strikeout to end the first, then the same sequence again to the first two batters of the second inning. And again, it looked like the worst had passed.
But the one thing that Bronson can’t control is the insistence by the Nationals of playing Justin Bloxom at third, and it was Bloxom’s 37th error in his 76th game at the position that started the Kinston rally in the second. Yes, you can put the blame on Bronson for failing to buckle down to the next two batters, who singled and homered, but it’s human nature to lose focus when things go awry and hard to ignore when a preventable problem keeps recurring.
Potomac would respond in its half of the 3rd as Cutter Dykstra singled and Eury Perez was safe on a sacrifice attempt to set up runners on first and second. Francisco Soriano’s subsequent bunt attempt was popped up and for a brief moment it appeared that Kinston’s Toru Murata had pulled a fast one by intentionally allowing the ball to drop and firing to second to attempt the 1-4-3 DP.
To his credit, Soriano ran out the play and it saved the P-Nats from an embarrassing moment, if not the umpires. Dykstra strayed from second but retreated to second *after* the throw to second came and went. With the force removed from Dykstra and Soriano beating the relay to first, the only out was the force on Perez. Had Murata thrown to third, he might have gotten away with the gambit and gotten the double play.
Instead, Jose Lozada ripped a first-pitch fastball (when will the Carolina League ever learn?) down the left field line for a two-run double and cut the Kinston lead in half, 4-2.
Bronson worked around threats in the 3rd and 4th innings before working a 1-2-3 fifth. He would throw away a pickoff move that sent Kinston outfielder Delvi Cid all the way around from first to put the Indians up, 5-2. He was lifted after his fourth and final walk for Neil Holland, who stranded the runner with the help of nifty 7-3 double play by Soriano, who has been pressed into OF duty with the shortage of OFs since J.P. Ramirez and J.R. Higley were placed on the DL.
Unfortunately, Kinston’s Murata also settled down to retire seven of the next eight batters, including a double play to end the fifth, before giving up another big hit to Lozada, a solo shot to right field in the 6th. Steven Souza would single two batters later, but he would be the final baserunner as the Kinston closer Preston Guilmet came on in the 7th and final inning to set down the P-Nats in order for his league-leading 35th save
Prior commitments made for a short afternoon, but in the nightcap, Potomac fell again 2-1, giving the Kinston Indians the second-half division title.
For the second straight day, Wilmington beat Frederick
to keep Potomac mathematically alive, but it will require another Frederick loss and a win to break the streak. This wouldn’t be the 2011 season if the weather weren’t a part of the narrative, and yes, there is rain in the forecast for tomorrow.