It was too little, too late as the P-Nats rallied for three in the bottom of the ninth but still fell two runs short, 5-3.
Adrian Nieto drew a leadoff walk while Mike Gilmartin drew a two-out walk. Justin Miller, Francisco Soriano, and Cutter Dykstra went back-to-back-to-back with singles to score two runs. After Salem gifted Potomac with an error on a Adrian Sanchez groundout to advance Dykstra and Sanchez to second and third, Michael Taylor came up with a chance to tie the game.
Instead, Taylor struck out for the third time in the game, bringing his playoff tally to seven whiffs in three games.
Early on, this had the makings of yet another pitcher’s duel. Matt Purke strung four zeroes atop the scoreboard, retiring seven straight at one point while his counterpart, Heri Quevedo, got the first six outs on the ground and struck out the side in the third.
Salem got on the board first with three runs in the 5th. And there was nothing cheap about them — two booming doubles to center sandwiched around a walk and a single, followed by a warning-track sacrifice fly. The damage carried over into the 6th as a clearly flustered Purke gave up a third double and walked the next batter while trying to finesse him with breaking pitch after breaking pitch.
Colin Bates came on and walked his first batter to load the bases. With nobody, this had the makings of another big inning. Instead, Bates got two grounder to third, the first of which was tossed home to force the runner, the second: around the horn for the 5-4-3 DP.
Baseball’s equivalent to a goal line stand, however, did not result in the offense marching back down the field. For the second time in the game, Quevedo quashed a would-be rally with double-play ball in the last of 6th.
Salem tacked on what proved to be the game-winning runs with a two-out single followed by a long HR by the Nos. 3-4 batters Henry Ramos and Keury De La Cruz, giving Salem a 5-0 lead that they were able to hold despite the late Potomac comeback.
The series continues tonight in Woodbridge with Potomac opting to send out Brett Mooneyham as the starter despite his three abysmal outings to finish the regular season. Salem will give the ball to Mike Augliera, who went 1-2 with an ERA of 6.64 in four starts against Potomac in 2013.