The big Nats may have trouble coming back from deficits of more than two runs, but seven runs? No problem for the P-Nats.
Potomac rallied for six runs with two outs in the 5th, then took the lead with two runs in the 6th to turn a 7-0 deficit into a 8-7 lead. Three relievers combined for four and 2/3rds innings of relief to stave off Salem as Potomac held on for a 9-8 win.
Caleb Ramsey’s grand slam was the big bang in the fifth, a frame that began slowly. With one out, Billy Burns lined one into center and stole second while Randolph Oduber struck out, a gamble of sorts when you’re down seven runs (perhaps not with the Carolina League’s stolen-base leader). Michael Taylor ended the shutout with an RBI double to left and scored when Jason Martinson followed with a safety to center.
It looked like that would be it as Adrian Nieto ripped one to first that Salem’s David Renfroe got a glove on, but booted for his fifth error. Kevin Keyes followed with a high chopper that went for an infield single and loaded the bases. Given those two breaks, Caleb Ramsey made the most out of a 3-1 fastball, launching it over three levels of sponsorship signage into the parking lot behind right field for four runs on one swing.
In the 6th, Justin Miller, who made the first out of the 5th, redeemed himself with a leadoff double. After a Burns sacrifice, Oduber got his shot at redemption for making the second out of the 5th, a rising line drive that went into the woods behind left field for a two runs and an 8-7 lead.
Taylor and Martinson kept it going with a pair of walks, then executed a double steal that paid off as Adrian Nieto’s bid for a third Potomac homer fell 15 feet short, but deep enought for the reigning Carolina League Batter of the Week to stride home with the ninth P-Nat run.
The offensive onslaught was great, but what made it necessary shouldn’t be overlooked. For the second straight start, Taylor Hill gave up seven runs on 10 hits and didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. Against an offensive powerhouse like Lynchburg, that’s forgivable. Versus the league’s worst lineup? Not so much. As the P-Nats make their second turn through the Carolina League, this is something to watch for: players who dominated early but are now struggling as the proverbial word has gotten out.
The Potomac ‘pen has taken its fair share of abuse in this space, but last night they got the job done.
Greg Holt let in the two runs he inherited from Hill, but was otherwise quite effective: striking out four over two and 2/3rds with two hits and a walk allowed as he earned his second win of the season.
Rob Wort let in the final Salem run in the 8th with an adventurous inning as he walked a man with one out, picked him off, hit a batter, walked another, and gave up an RBI single before Keyes snared a sharp grounder for the inning’s third out, the tying run just 90 feet short.
The defense also helped the pitcher out in the 9th as Derek Self gave up a pair of singles that were erased by Nieto (caught stealing) and Martinson on a 6B-3 DP to end the game. It was Self’s fourth save in eight chances.
The win keeps pace with both Frederick and Lynchburg as the three teams remain just a game and a half apart in the Carolina League North. Blake Schwartz (4-1, 1.00) gets the ball for Potomac with Mike Augliera (4-1, 3.44) as his counterpart on the mound for Salem.