Let the drumbeat from the MASN commenters for Tony Renda begin…
With his fourth hit of the night, the 5’8″ (in his helmet and cleats) Potomac second baseman completed a three-run rally in the 9th for a 5-4 win and a four-game sweep of the defending Carolina League champions.
Combined with a walkoff loss by the Lynchburg Hillcats, the P-Nats returned to first place since falling out of a first-place tie on Memorial Day with a 13-4 loss to the Red Sox.
The comeback was heavily aided by Salem, thanks to three critical mistakes. The first came with one out and Shawn Pleffner on first base as Salem’s Reed Gragnani booted a Khayyan Norfork grounder to put runners on 1st and second. The second was a balk that took away the double play.
Still leading 4-2, Salem opted not to walk Will Piwnica-Worms, who had been 0-for-3 up to that point. A single to center made him 1-for-4 with two RBI as both Pleffner and Norfork came in to score.
The third mistake was a grounder to third off the bat of Pedro Severino that Sox third baseman Ryan Dent misfired to second for the second error and second missed chance at a double play. Renda then delivered the gamewinner to plate Piwinica-Worms for the 5-4 win.
The 4-for-4 effort, which also included a double and a single and a two-base-error ruled as a triple, extended Renda’s current hit streak to six games, over which he’s gone 12-for-30 with seven runs, five walks drawn, and five RBI.
The win went to Travis Henke, who got the last two outs of the 7th and blanked Salem in 8th and 9th innings with one hit allowed and three strikeouts. John Simms made the start, giving up the first two Salem runs on seven hits, including a solo shot in the 5th, over four and 2/3rd innings.
Bryan Harper followed Simms, striking out the last batter of the 5th to strand two runner. He worked around a single and a walk in the 6th, but couldn’t do likewise in the 7th, literally throwing away a sacrifice attempt that led to the second two Salem runs (both unearned).
Potomac now hits the road for three against the third-place (but still in contention, two games behind) Wilmington Blue Rocks then the two teams switch venues for another three-game series this weekend. Like last season, the two teams play just six games in the first half but 14 times in the second.