Bumped from his spot on defense, Adrian Nieto put on a show on offense last night, having a hand in all five runs in a 5-3 Potomac win over Winston-Salem.
The 23-year-old Floridian backstop went 2-for-2 with three runs scored and two runs driven in, batting as the designated hitter* for the second straight night with Wilson Ramos catching on a rehab assignment. Ramos went 0-for-3 but threw out a baserunner and ran well when he took to the bases after getting plunked in the 5th.
* Whoever let told PA guy to stop that “hitter by designation” crap, thank you.
Nieto drew walks in each of his first two plate appearances. The other Adrian, Sanchez that is, drove him in with a two-out single in the 8th and cue-shot on a hit-and-run play in the 4th. (As an aside, Sanchez played shortstop last night and racked up six assists, showing some fire on defense that’s been missing for most of this season. Perhaps someone told him about Tony Renda?)
After ripping an RBI single to RF in the 5th, Nieto was on his way to his third walk in his fourth plate appearance, even going so far to toss his bat on a 3-0 count, which unfortunately, was a strike. Perhaps he realized the error of showing up the umpire, taking a little extra time to dry off his bat.
Winston-Salem’s Bryan Blough, however, opted not to see if Nieto would be punished for his faux pas by throwing something on the edges. Perhaps he forgot that first base was open, vacated by Mike Gilmartin who was on second after a slow roller moved him up after leading off the inning with a single and Michael Taylor grounded out to short for the second out of the 7th.
Instead, Blough fed Nieto a 3-1 fastball that he did not miss, smacking long home run off the third level of signage above the right-centerfield wall. The blast put Potomac on top 5-3.
Robert Benincasa came on in the 8th, the third Potmac pitcher of the night. Brian Rauh had started and turned in five innings with three runs allowed on six hits, walking none and striking out none. Richie Mirowski, who seems to have found his niche as a setup man, struck out three and let up a single while pitching the 6th and 7th. He would get his team-leading seventh win for his efforts.
Benincasa gave up a leadoff single to Dash No. 2 batter Adam Heisler, but bore down and showed why it’s actually possible, if not advisable, to have your “closer” pitch the 8th as he retired the meat of the Winston-Salem order then mowed down the next three in the 9th (six in a row) for the two-inning save, his fourth in as many appearances since his promotion last month.
Weather permitting, the two teams will conclude their three-game series tonight. Ivan Pineyro (0-0, 9.64) takes the hill for Potomac with Myles Jaye (5-2, 4.96) his counterpart for Winston-Salem.