Luke Erickson

Luke Erickson is a season-ticket holder for the Potomac Nationals, but makes a point of seeing games in Hagerstown and Harrisburg at least once a summer. When the PNats are away on the weekend, Luke finds a minor-league game somewhere to watch, and generally attends 70-80 baseball games a year up across several states. A former sportswriter with newspapers in Massachusetts and Oregon, Luke lives in Western Fairfax County with his wife and two sons.

May 112012
 

Our weekly look at the leaders, trailers, and outliers in the Washington Nationals minor leagues.

SYRACUSE CHIEFS 13-21, 6th place I.L. North, 8½ games behind

Good Mark Teahen .351/.405/.459 in May
Bad Rafael Martin 8.78ERA, 1.725 WHIP
Interesting Zach Duke 2-0, 1.80 ERA in last 3 starts

HARRISBURG SENATORS 17-16, 2nd place E.L. West, 6 games behind

Good 262 team pitching Ks leads E.L.
Bad .310 Team OBP is 11th in 12-team E.L.
Interesting Jesus Valdez .788 OPS last 10G

POTOMAC NATIONALS 13-17, 2nd place C.L. North Division, 4½ games behind

Good Adrian Sanchez .391/.404/.478 vs. RHPs as a RHB; 10-game hit streak
Bad Zach Walters 7E in 12G at SS
Interesting Trevor Holder 1.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP in last 3 appearances (9IP)

HAGERSTOWN SUNS 17-14, 3rd place Sally League North Divison, 5½ games behind

Good Nathan Karns 1.88 ERA, 15.4K/9IP (41/24)
Bad Matt Skole 11E in 29G at 3B
Interesting J.P. Ramirez .459/.474/.541 in last 10G
May 112012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 5-1 vs. Rochester,
7:00 p.m.
Lannan (2-3, 6.10) vs.
Manship (2-0, 2.45)
Harrisburg Lost, 7-0 @ Akron,
7:05 p.m.
Rosenbaum (4-0, 0.81) vs.
Wright (3-1, 1.13)
Potomac Won, 5-2 @ Carolina,
7:15 p.m.
Winters (1-4, 5.51) vs.
Goodnight (1-2, 5.06)
Hagerstown Lost, 6-3 @ Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Meyer (2-3, 4.28) vs.
Tropeano (2-2, 1.87)

Syracuse 5 Durham 1
• Maya (W, 2-4) 7IP, 7H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 4K
• Lehman 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Paul 1-3, R, HR, 3RBI
• Negrych 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Maldonado 1-3, R, HR, RBI

Durham outhit Syracuse 8-6, but three of those six went over the fence as the Chiefs beat the Bulls, 5-1 and took the series 3-1. Yunesky Maya turned in seven strong innings, giving up an unearned run on seven hits and a walk to win his 2nd game of the season. Xavier Paul, Jim Negrych, and Carlos Maldonado each went deep, with Paul’s shot driving in three. Pat Lehman and Josh Wilkie both turned in a scoreless inning to close out the game. The eight-game homestand continues tonight as Rochester comes to town for the next four games.

Akron 7 Harrisburg 0
• Mandel (L, 3-2) 3IP, 6H, 6R, 5ER, BB, 0K, HR
• Davis 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Kobernus 2-4
• Hood 2-4, E(1)

Jeff Mandel got manhandled for four runs in the bottom of the first and it was more than Akron would need as the Aeros flew past the Senators, 7-0. Akron opened their half of the 1st with four straight singles, with a stolen base and an error in between, before Mandel would settle down to get three of the next four batters out. The Aeros, however, would post a picket fence with single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th to put the game out of reach. Jeff Kobernus and Destin Hood both went 2-for-4 as Harrisburg was held to just seven hits, shut out for the second time this week and the third time in the last 10 games.

Potomac 5 Salem 2
• Swynenberg (W, 3-1) 5IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 2K
• Wort (H, 2) 2IP, H, 0R, BB, 5K
• Cameron Selik (S, 4) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Keyes 2-3, 2R, 2B, HR, 4RBI
• Walters 2-4, R

Perhaps all Potomac needed was a good night’s rest and a chance to take some BP, as emerging staff ace Matt Swynenberg, the back of the ‘pen, and Kevin Keyes led the P-Nats to 5-2 win in the series finale. Swynenberg faltered late, but turned in a two-runs-in-five-innings start for his team-leading 3rd W. Rob Wort and Cameron Selik combined for four shutout innings of relief with just a hit and walk and eight strikeouts between them. Kevin Keyes doubled, homered, scored twice, and drove in four runs to power the Potomac offense. Prior to the game, RHP Adam Olbrychowski was placed on the 7-Day DL with LHP Joe Testa assigned from Harrisburg taking his spot on the roster.

Lexington 6 Hagerstown 3
• Karns 4IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 8K, HBP
• Lucas 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Ramsey 1-2, 2RBI, BB
• Newsome 1-3, R, 2B, BB

A four-run seventh was the undoing of the Suns as the Legends doubled them up, 6-3. Nathan Karns went four innings in his first start, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk and striking out eight. Christian Meza took the loss after giving up two hits in the seventh and leaving with one out and a 3-2 lead. Greg Holt walked the next two batters to lose the lead then gave up a two-run single and a sac fly for the eventual margin of victory. The Suns were held to just seven hits, going 3-for-12 with RISP and stranding eight baserunners. RHP Alex Kreis was placed on the 7-Day DL, retroactive to May 8, making room for OF Chris Curran, who was assigned from Potomac.

May 102012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 15-8 vs. Durham,
7:00 p.m.
Roark (1-5, 5.70) vs.
Torra (2-3, 5.45)
Harrisburg Lost, 8-2 @ Akron,
7:05 p.m.
Mandel (3-1, 2.97) vs.
McFarland (5-1, 2.62)
Potomac Lost, 10-0;
Lost, 6-2
@ Salem,
7:00 p.m.
Swynenberg (2-1, 3.77) vs.
Pressly (2-0, 7.06)
Hagerstown OFF DAY @ Lexington,
7:05 p.m.
Karns (0-0, 1.35) vs.
Dufek (0-0, 5.14)

Syracuse 15 Durham 8
• Wang (W, 1-0) 7IP, 8H, 2R, 2ER, BB, K
• Severino (SV, 3) 1⅓ IP, H, 0R, 2BB, 2K, 2-2 IR-S, WP
• Teahen 3-5, R, 2B, BB, 5RBI, SB
• Hoffpauir 3-3, 2R, 2BB, 3RBI
• Brown 2-3, 3R, 2B, 3BB,

It was a battle of attrition in the late innings, turning what should have been a three-hour cruise into Gilligan’s Island in a 15-8 win for Syracuse. Chien-Ming Wang turned in seven decent innings, scattering eight hits and giving up two runs while the Chiefs offense broke out and built a 10-2 lead. The Bulls gored the Chiefs ‘pen for six runs in the top of the 8th, with Austin Bibens-Dirkx facing four batters and giving up the minimum of four runs possible with three singles and grand slam allowed. The Chiefs steered things around in the bottom of the inning with a five-run rally, highlighted by Mark Teahen’s two-run double and lowlighted by a pair of ejections after a Seth Bynum strikeout (Bynum, manager Tony Beasley). Atahualpa Severino, who had gotten the final out in the 8th, retired the side in the 9th to end the game after three hours, 38 minutes.

Richmond 8 Harrisburg 2
• Demny 5⅓ IP, 5H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 7K, HR
• Frias 2IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 0K
• Nicol 2-3
• Kobernus 2-4, 2R
• Valdez 2-4, 2B

A pair of three-run rallies vaulted Richmond over Harrisburg for an 8-2 win and a two-game sweep of the rain-shortened series. The Senators collected nine hits, with three players getting two hits apiece, but went a dreadful 1-for-9 with RISP and stranded eight baserunners. Paul Demny took the loss, charged with five runs on five hits and three walks, with reliever Pat McCoy letting the last two runs before giving up two of his own over one and 2/3rds innings. The Senators hit the road for seven games, beginning with a four-game set against the Akron Aeros tonight.

Salem 10 Potomac 0 (comp. of susp. gm.)
• Olbrychowski (L, 1-4) ⅔ 5H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, K, 2HR
• Applebee 2⅓ IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Taylor 1-2, 2B, 2BB, OF assist at 3B
• Sanchez 1-2

Down 6-0 after 3½ innings, Salem had its way with relievers Shane McCatty and Wilson Eusebiom scoring a pair of runs off both to run the score to 10-0. Potomac was held to just three hits, with David Freitas and Adrian Sanchez both singling and Michael Taylor collecting his league-leading 13th double.

Salem 6 Potomac 2 (5 inn, rain)
• Ray (L, 0-1) 1⅔ IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, K, 2HR
• Holder 2⅓ IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 4K
• Hague 1-1, R, 2BB, SB, RBI
• Bloxom 1-3, 2B, RBI

Robbie Ray lasted just 15 batters before the Salem Red Sox chased him from the game, sending him to the showers after six runs and seven hits, including a solo HR and a grand slam. Trevor Holder turned in another fine relief outing, but the offense was limited to just two hits: a single by Rick Hague, a double by Justin Bloxom. Rain halted play after five full innings, saving the bullpen further work after having pitched 9⅔ innings in less than 24 hours.

HAGERSTOWN SUNS — OFF DAY
After a 5-2 homestand, the Suns hit the road for seven games, beginning with a four-game set with the Lexington Legends. Prior to yesterday’s game, Kylin Turnbull was assigned from “Auburn,” taking the roster spot of Steve Souza, who had been placed on the 7-Day DL, retroactive to May 6.

May 092012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 4-2;
Lost, 2-1
vs. Durham,
7:00 p.m.
Wang (rehab) vs.
Cobb (1-3, 3.38)
Harrisburg Postponed vs. Richmond,
10:35 a.m.
Demny (2-1, 4.97) vs.
Westcott (2-2, 4.78)
Potomac Losing, 6-0
(susp., mid-4th)
@ Salem,
11:00 a.m.
Ray (0-1, 10.38) vs.
Workman (2-0, 2.76)
Hagerstown Lost, 8-1
(6½ inn.)
OFF DAY n/a

Syracuse 4 Durham 2 — GAME ONE
• Duke (W, 3-1) 7IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 5K
• Paul 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Maldonado 1-3, 2B
• Negrych 0-1, BB, RBI, SH, SF

Zach Duke went the distance in the opener of the doubleheader, giving up two earned on three hits and a walk while striking out five. The Chiefs gave him a three-run lead in the bottom of the 2nd, highlighted by Xavier Paul’s solo HR. A walk, single, sacrifice and another single plated the two Bulls run in the 3rd. A walk, bunt single, error and a sac fly gave Syracuse the final run in the last of the 5th.

Durham 2 Syracuse 1 — GAME TWO
• Atkins (L, 2-3) 5IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K
• Pena 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Paul 1-2, R
• Carroll 1-3

The Chiefs dropped the nightcap as the offense managed just four hits and two walks. Syracuse got on the board first with a pair of one-out singles from Xavier Paul and Mark Teahen and an RBI groundout by Carlos Rivero. Mitch Atkins needed more than the one run to win, as Durham broke through against him with a pair of runs in the 5th. The Chiefs would get a runner to second in the 6th and draw a two-out walk in the 7th, but couldn’t push either across.

HARRISBURG — PPD
Rain postponed the The Harrisburg Senators game Tuesday night against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Friday, July 13th.

Salem 6 Potomac 0 — SUSP (mid-4th)
Salem opened with back-to-back HRs — one over the wall, one inside the park — as the Red Sox chased Adam Olbrychowski after 2/3rds of an inning and 10 batters faced. The rain came and stopped play after 3½ innings. They’ll try to finish this one this morning at 11 a.m., then play a seven-inning game aftewards, weather permitting.

Augusta 8 Hagerstown 1
• Turnbull (l, 0-2) 3IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, K
• Dupra 2⅓ IP, 6H, 6R, 6ER, 3BB, K
• Leonida 1-2, R
• Dykstra 1-3, RBI

Rain shortened this one officially, but a four-run sixth put this one away for all intents and purposes as Augusta won 8-1 to split the four-game series. Kylin Turnbull took the loss, giving up two runs early, while Brian Dupra got knocked around for six runs on six hits and three walks in the decisive 5th and 6th innings. Cutter Dykstra’s RBI single in the 5th plated Cole Leonida to break up the GreenJacket shutout.

May 082012
 

With the break afforded this week after a 10-game homestand, it’s time to take a step back and take a look at what I’m seeing from this year’s edition of the Potomac Nationals.

Like last year, there are some players that are starting to heat up along with the weather, but also seem to be benefiting from the extended time at home. This is worth noting because while some parks are hitter’s parks, the Pfitz is basically neutral: not a hitter’s park (like Winston-Salem), not a pitcher’s park (like Wilmington). In other words, what you see is what you get.

Without further ado, here’s what I’m seeing so far:

FIRST BASE
Justin Bloxom – A dreadful first month, both offensively and defensively, but one of the aforementioned players that’s been playing better on this last homestand (.286/.316/.400). The experiment with third base is over, but the return to first hasn’t been as smooth as you’d otherwise expect. Not sure if knees are bothering him, but mobility on defense seems diminished from last season.

SECOND BASE
Adrian Sanchez – Just came off the DL, but picked up right where he left off and has a seven-game hit streak with 13 hits and four doubles over that stretch. Is no longer switch-hitting, as apparently the powers that be would rather see his short, quick stroke from just the right side. Defensively, he’s a step down from the last two to come through (Lombardozzi, Kobernus), which is probably what you should expect.

SHORTSTOP
Zach Walters – Has played here the most, but it’s been a spot that’s been in rotation with injuries and recent activations, Walters included. His proclivity for errors that marred his AFL stint last fall hasn’t subsided, but still possesses a cannon throwing arm. Hit .289/.317/.342 in Woodrbridge after a 1-for-18 start on the road.

Rick Hague – Recently activated and has picked up where he left off last April. He and Walters have been splitting time at SS, in part because of Hague’s shoulder injury. One has to think that Hague might be the exception to the level-a-year rule considering that he turns 24 in September and there is nobody blocking his path at AA and AAA. But that’s speculation, not prediction; he’s played seven home games against two clubs. One would also think that he’ll given a full turn through the Carolina League before the bump (please).

THIRD BASE
Blake Kelso – Has actually played three of four IF positions seamlessly and plays hard. It’s hard not to use the word “scrappy” for a guy like him, but he hustles and does the little things right. My guy in Hagerstown compares him to Jeff Keppinger, and aside from having less power, I’d say that’s a pretty good comp.

LEFT FIELD
Kevin Keyes – It’s hard to believe that he’s actually hit six singles — he strikes out a lot, but when he connects… it’s always faster out than it came in, and usually light-tower high. Defensively, there have been worse left fielders at the PFitz. He’s not fleet of foot and has an fringe-average arm.

Wade Moore – He’s roughly split time between LF and DH, but this year the DH spot has been used more “rotationally” versus a veteran bat (e.g. Jose Lozada). He’s shown flashes of power (.391 SLG) and a good walk rate (10.1%) and is adequate as a fielder.

CENTERFIELD
Michael Taylor – It’s not hard to see why the prospect gurus and the Nationals have been gushing about him: speed, power, arm, glove and moves like Jagger (making sure you’re paying attention). As Sickels put it, he’s in the refinement stage. The arm is powerful, for example, but not always accurate (as you’d expect from a former SS). He’s fast, but his baserunning instincts are below-average (hence, 7CS). He’s easily this year’s Destin Hood, but more advanced than Hood was at this point last season.

RIGHT FIELD
Randolph Oduber – The “Groovin’ Aruban” struggles with the strike zone but runs and fields well (has the range for CF, the arm for RF) and has some pop. Might be better served hitting lower in the lineup, but in a so-so offense, he’s been batting leadoff since Taylor’s been used in the 5th slot.

CATCHER
David Freitas – There’s not much question whether or not he can hit, but the focus this season is whether or not he’ll stick at catcher. His footwork and throwing skills are below-average, but his framing/receiving skills are good. A lot might depend on Sandy Leon – as the two were born five days apart in March 1989. If the powers that be decide Leon can hit well enough to be a backup catcher, it might be time to shift Freitas to first — especially with Marrero and Moore essentially about to “graduate.”

BENCH
Francisco Soriano – Obviously, not a first impression. Soriano has become an “OG” of sorts, but a useful player off the bench that can play multiple positions and bat in the 1/2 and 8/9 slots in the lineup and will give you some speed and some gap power, too.

Beau Seabury – The current backup catcher, he’s essentially a replacement for longtime backup Brian Peacock. Has obviously played sparingly but has held his own on offense and provided the kind of defense you’d expect from a 26-y.o. collegiate player.

STARTING PITCHERS
Adam Olbrychowski – Started the season terribly but has gone into the seventh inning the past two starts, getting both more grounders and more K’s, particularly with an offspeed pitch that has to be at least 12mph slower than his fastball.

Kyle Winters – By the luck of the draw, I’ve only seen him once — this past Saturday night, where he struck out 10, but also gave up four runs.

Matt Grace – Has pitched better each time I’ve seen him, but still gets hit hard and often, as the .330 OBA suggests and seems to have every other hit go for extra bases.

Matt Swynenberg – Have only seen twice: his complete game on April 22 and last Friday. In the former he seemed to have the batters swinging at his pitches, but in the latter, he seemed less in command and the hitters were able to get (and hit) their pitches.

Bobby Hansen Jr. – Likewise, have only seen twice and with four starts total, it’s tough to make any fair inferences, especially when those two road games have been against the league’s #1 and #2 offenses.

Robbie Ray – One start. Read about it here.

RELIEVERS
Last year I punted because I had seen so few of them more than once and a couple had already been released, but this year I’ll take a stab at giving some feedback even if that’s still largely the same situation…

Rob Wort – Made the 2011 Watchlist after a strong finish to the 2010 season, but seemed lost last season, struggling with his control and command. This year, it’s like late 2010 again. When he’s not getting K’s, he seems to be getting the IF pops that are every bit as important for relievers to get.

Cameron Selik – Has had a couple of rough outings, but his last two have been sensational: Five straight Ks last Wednesday and and a ninth-inning naildown with “only” two Ks. Seemed to run out of gas as a starter last season, but his new role of closer (and the ability to go multiple innings) suits him well so far.

Neil Holland – Another one of those luck of the draws: I’ve seen all three of his scoreless outings at home. A sidewinder that can go multiple innings and is hell on RHBs.

Trevor Holder – The same maddening inconsistency since 2010: Can get hammered just as easily as he can shut down an opponent.

Ryan Demmin – A much better pitcher than he was last year, when he was jumped from Vermont to Potomac but had to repeat SS-A and finish the season in Low-A. Like Holland, I’ve only seen him a couple of times and he’s pitched well.

Paul Applebee – He’s pitched five times in long relief — three bad outings, two good. I’ve two of the former and one of the latter. He and Demmin are the lefties in the ‘pen, and as you might guess the softer-tosser (Applebee) tends to work the longer outings.

May 082012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Durham,
5:00 p.m.
Duke (2-1, 4.18) and
Atkins (2-2, 4.18) vs.
Paduch (1-0, 1.13) and
Archer (1-4, 6.30)
Harrisburg Lost, 2-0 vs. Richmond,
7:00 p.m.
Demny (2-1, 4.97) vs.
Westcott (2-2, 4.78)
Potomac OFF DAY @ Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Olbrychowski (1-3, 5.53) vs.
Celestino (2-1, 3.60)
Hagerstown Won, 11-3 vs. Augusta,
10:35 a.m.
Dupra (2-3, 3.20) vs.
Escobar (1-1, 2.33)

SYRACUSE — PPD
Folks that were dying to see a modern scoreboard will have to wait one more night until tonight’s doubleheader against the Durham Bulls, weather permitting.

Richmond 2 Harrisburg 0
• Ballard (L, 1-2) 5IP, 7H, 2R, 0ER, BB, 4K
• Pucetas 3IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• McConnell 1-2, 2B, BB
• Pahuta 1-3, BB

The Harrisburg bats continue to slumber, collecting just four hits in a 2-0 loss to Richmond. Mike Ballard was the hard-luck loser, giving up two runs over five innings on seven hits and a walk, with errors by Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus allowing baserunners to advance an extra base to make both runs unearned. Chris McConnell doubled, while Tim Pahuta, Chris Rahl, and Kobernus each singled as the Senators went 0-for-7 with RISP and stranded five runners.

POTOMAC — OFF DAY
After yesterday’s off day, the P-Nats are now entering a long stretch without a scheduled day off (41 days) and three extra games to make up, thanks to three rainouts. Tonight, they begin a six-game road trip through Salem, VA for three and Zebulon, NC for three — the first matchup between the P-Nats and the Mudcats since the switch of leagues (Southern to Carolina), levels (AA to High-A), and affiliation (Cincinnati to Cleveland).

Hagerstown 11 Augusta 3
• Estevez (W, 4-1) 7IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 3K, 0HR
• Holt 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Dykstra 4-6, R, RBI, SB
• Ramirez 3-5, 2R
• Miller 3-5, 2R, RBI

Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez improved his home record to 4-0 as the Hagerstown offense continues to shine for him in an 11-3 win. Led by Cutter Dykstra’s 4-for-6 at the top, the Suns buzzed the GreenJacket pitchers for 17 hits, with eight of nine starters collecting hits (Adrian Nieto was the “beer man” with an 0-for-5). Jason Martinson and Brett Newsome both drove in three runs, while Matt Skole drew two of the three walks given up by Augusta. Estevez went a season-high seven innings, setting down nine straight at one point, but gave up three runs on seven hits. In his seven starts, Hagerstown has scored 69 runs, which helps explain the 4-1 record despite the 6.69 ERA.

May 072012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 11-2 vs. Durham,
7:00 p.m.
Duke (2-1, 4.18) vs.
Paduch (1-0, 1.13)
Harrisburg Lost, 2-1 vs. Richmond,
7:00 p.m.
Ballard (1-1, 3.14) vs.
Fitzgerald (1-1, 3.41)
Potomac Won, 3-1 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 4-1 vs. Augusta,
7:05 p.m.
Estevez (3-1, 7.36) vs.
Davis (2-0, 2.25).

Lehigh Valley 11 Syracuse 2
• Lannan (L, 2-3) 5IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Teahen 2-3, R, BB
• Paul 2-4, 2-2B, RBI
• Brown 1-3, BB, SB

The IronPigs scored in seven of eight innings in an 11-2 romp over the Chiefs as Syracuse dropped its fifth straight game. John Lannan had four Ks, two on the mound, two at the plate as Lehigh smacked him for six runs on seven hits and two walks over five innings. Three relievers also got burned. Offensively, Xavier Paul, Corey Brown, and Mark Teahen combined for five of the seven Syracuse hits. The Chiefs return to Syracuse for a pair of four-game series against the Durham Bulls and Rochester Redwings.

Binghamton 2 Harrisburg 1
• Gilliam 6IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 3BB, 6K; 1-2, 2B
• McCoy 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Frias (L, 0-2) 1⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 2K
• Pahuta 1-3, BB

The Sens were on the wrong end of this 2-1 score as the B-Mets took the game in walkoff fashion. Robert Gilliam got the start and collected one of just four Harrisburg hits (a double), allowing an unearned run on five hits and three walks while fanning six. The lone Senator run came on a Chris Rahl steal of third and an error with two outs in the 4th. Marcos Frias took the loss on a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth. Harrisburg returns to City Island for a three-game set with Richmond before heading back out on the road on Thursday.

Potomac 3 Wilmington 1
• Grace (W, 2-3) 6⅓ IP, 8H, R, ER, BB, K, HR
• Wort (H, 1) 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Selik (SV, 3) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 2K
• Kelso 2-4, R, 2B
• Keyes 1-4, R, HR, RBI
• Sanchez 2-3, R, 2B

Strong pitching from start to finish highlights this Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge.

Augusta 4 Hagerstown 1
• Hill (L, 3-2) 5IP, 5H, 3R, 1ER, BB, 2K, HR
• Hawkins 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Skole 1-2, 2BB, RBI
• Ramirez 1-3
• Burns 0-1, BB (20G on-base streak)

The Suns will be glad not to face Kyle Crick again anytime soon as the 19-y.o. tossed six innings of one-hit ball in a 4-1 win for Augusta over Hagerstown. Combined with his previous outing, Crick held the Suns to just three hits over 10 innings with five walks and 16 strikeouts. Taylor Hill took the loss for the Suns, giving up three (one earned) over five innings. Matt Skole, J.P. Ramirez, and Caleb Ramsey had the three hits for Hagerstown, with Skole collecting his league-leading 34th RBI.

May 062012
 

Strong pitching from start to finish led the Potomac Nationals to a 3-1 win on Sunday afternoon.

Matt Grace turned in a season-high six and a 1/3rd innings, scattering seven hits in the field, with an eighth going deep over the LF wall in the 4th innings for the lone Wilmington run. The southpaw also set down a stretch of seven straight before leaving with one out in the 7th and the bases loaded, clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Enter Rob Wort, arguably the team’s most valuable reliever right now. With zero margin for error, the lean righthanded struck out the first batter he faced and got a popup to end the inning. In the 8th, he struck out the side to increase his total to 24 in 14⅓ innings, but surprisingly it was his first hold of the ’12 campaign.

Offensively, this was not one of Potomac’s finest efforts — just three runs on ten hits. But the first run and the first hit came off the bat of the hulking left fielder, Kevin Keyes, who scorched a line about 12′ above the 400-foot sign in center field to lead off the third.

Potomac would get the second run two innings later after an Adrian Sanchez double and Beau Seabury single set up a 1st-and-3rd situation with nobody out. Randolph Oduber tapped one down the third base line but Wilmington’s Cheslor Cuthbert decided to go for the outs instead of the play at the plate.

The insurance run came in the last of the 8th, as Blake Kelso legged out a double and took third on Ricky Hague’s single to right. It looked like the Blue Rocks were going to escape for just a brief moment when Oduber bounced a grounder again, this time to second, but instead threw it away. Everybody came in to score, but the umpires ruled the ball had gone dead, and sent back two Bloxom and Oduber to third and second.

Zach Walters was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out and Michael Taylor whiffed and Kevin Keyes flew out to center to strand the sixth and seventh batters of the game.

Cameron Selik worked around a one-out single to earn his third save, slinging dropping a 2-2 changeup slider on Jake Kuebler for a swinging strikeout to end the game.

The loss gives Potomac the series win at 2-1 and finished the 10-game homestand at 6-4. Tomorrow, however, is their last secheduled off day until the All-Star break (June 18-20), with Potomac slated to make up three April rainouts for 44 games over 41 days, as they embark on a six-game road trip to visit the Salem Red Sox and (finally) the Carolina Mudcats (formerly the Kinston Indians).

May 062012
 

Capped by a three-run shot, the Blue Rocks hung a four-spot on the P-Nats in the 9th to ice an 8-3 win and reclaim second place in the C.L. North.

Leading 4-3, Wilmington was content to play small ball to get the insurance run, sacrificing a leadoff walk off Shane McCatty to set up the Blue Rock’s top hitter (and sole switch hitter), Angel Franco.

With first base open, manager Brian Rupp elected not to bring in a lefthander to turn Franco around nor order an intentional walk. Franco delivered the insurance run with a double down the left-field line that Kevin Keyes boxed around but recovered in time to gun down Franco at third.

Thus, with two out and the bases empty, back-to-back singles set up Brett Eibner’s 4th HR of the season and put the game away.

The P-Nats actually led this game at one point, 2-0, after Zach Walters’ two-out, two-RBI single in the bottom of the first. Starting pitcher Kyle Winters coughed up the lead in the second with a three-run four-hit second. Winters would strike out a career-high 10 over six innings and finish with four runs allowed on seven hits.

The fourth run, however, was unearned — a cricket wicket by Ricky Hague in the third — and after Michael Taylor’s RBI double (#11, which leads the Carolina League) in the 4th, that was the difference in what was a 4-3 ballgame until the 9th. Twice Hague had a chance to redeem himself, with Adrian Sanchez (3-for-4 in his return from the DL) advancing from first to third both times on passed balls and wild pitched, but tapped out to short and struck out instead.

The loss halted a modest three-game win streak for Potomac, returning the P-Nats to third place in the Carolina League’s Northern Division. LHP Matt Grace (1-3, 7.36) faces off against Leondro Perez (2-1, 3.66) in rubber match of the series finale.

May 062012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-1 @ Lehigh Valley,
1:35 p.m.
Lannan (2-2, 5.19) vs.
Elarton (2-1, 3.51)
Harrisburg Won, 2-1 at Binghamton,
1:05 p.m.
Gilliam (1-3, 5.03) vs.
Peavey (2-1, 6.35)
Potomac Lost, 8-3 vs. Wilmington,
1:05 p.m.
Grace (1-3, 7.36) vs.
Perez (2-1, 3.66)
Hagerstown Won, 4-1 vs. Augusta,
1:05 p.m.
Hill (3-1, 3.15) vs.
Crick (0-1, 2.30)

Lehigh Valley 4 Syracuse 1
• Maya (L, 1-4) 6+ IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 0K, 0HR
• Severino ⅔ IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 0K, 2-2 IR-S
• Lehman 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K, 3-0 IR-S
• Brown 2-3, R, BB, HR, RBI
• Teahen 1-3, BB

An ugly four-run rally in the bottom of the 7th was the difference in a 4-1 Syracuse loss to Lehigh Valley. Among the miscues: Carlos Rivero’s two-base throwing error, an IF single off his glove, a SB when he neglected to call time to talk to the pitcher, and three walks (two unintentional) by Atahualpa Severino. Up until the 7th, starter Yunesky Maya was cruising: just four hits allowed over six innings. The offense, however, was next-to-nil besides Corey Brown’s leadoff HR and third-inning single and Mark Teahen’s first-inning single and third-inning walk. The Chiefs would finish with just six hits and three walks total.

Harrisburg 2 Binghamton 1
• Rosenbaum (W, 4-0) 9IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, BB, 4K
• Perez 2-5
• Leon 1-4, 2B, RBI
• Lozada 1-4, RBI

For the second time in four starts, Danny Rosenbaum has thrown a nine-inning complete game, winning the Saturday matinee, 2-1. He needed a few more pitches (109 vs. 95) and relied on his defense a little more (4K vs. 9K) as they turned three double plays for him, two of them ending the inning. The Sens took full advantage of an errant pickoff throw that moved up two runners into scoring position as Sandy Leon drove in the first run with a groundout and Jose Lozada drove in the second with an RBI single. Eury Perez was the sole Sen to collect multiple hits with a 2-for-5 afternoon.

Potomac 5 Wilmington 4
• Winters (L, 1-4) 6IP, 7H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 10K
• McCatty 1IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 0K
• Sanchez 3-4, R, 2B
• Taylor 2-4, 2B, RBI

A four-run 9th quashed any chance for back-to-back walkoffs Last Night In Woodbridge.
Prior to the game, 2B Adrian Sanchez was activated from the 7-Day DL, swapping places on the roster with OF Chris Curran.

Hagerstown 4 Augusta 1
• Meyer (W, 2-3) 7IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 6K, 2WP
• Barrett (SV, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Souza 2-4, 2R, 2HR, 3RBI
• Ramirez 2-4, RBI, SB

Backed by two HRs by Steve Souza, Alex Meyer turned in his best outing as a pro thus far as the Suns beat the GreenJackets, 4-1. Meyer went seven innings, allowing the one Augusta run on four hits and three walks while setting down six on strikes. Todd Simko and Aaron Barrett each followed with a scoreless inning to preserve the win, earning the hold and save respectively. Souza drove in three while going 2-for-4 to lead the Hagerstown offense.