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.

Jun 052013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-4 @ Scranton/WB,
7:05 p.m.

Demny (AAA debut) vs.
Nuno (2-0, 1.54)
Harrisburg Lost, 6-5 vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Treinen (4-5, 4.38) vs.
Gamboa (1-3, 4.30)
Potomac Won, 9-2 @ Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Ray (3-2, 2.60) vs.
N. Martinez (4-2, 2.70)
Hagerstown Won, 8-2 vs. Kannapolis,
7:00 p.m.
Anderson (4-2, 2.50) and
Mooneyham (1-0, 0.63) vs.
Olacio (1-7, 7.63) and
Ortiz (0-1, 3.00)
DSL Nationals Won, 12-4 @ DSL Pirates2,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD



Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 6 Syracuse 4
• Mandel (L, 1-2) 5⅓ IP, 11H, 6R, 6ER, 0BB, 3K, 2HR
• Accardo 2⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 3BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Jeroloman 3-4, R
• Perez 3-5, R, E

The RailRiders ran roughshod on spot starter Jeff Mandel, putting up three crooked numbers en route to a 6-4 win. Mandel was charged with all six runs on 11 hits, including two home runs, but walked none and struck out three. Jeremy Accardo finished the game with two and 2/3rds innings of one-hit, scoreless relief. The Chiefs got all four runs in the 3rd, highlighted by a three-run shot by Chris Rahl. Lineup bookends Eury Perez and Brian Jeroloman both singled three times as Syracuse rapped out ten hits total.
While unconfirmed, it would appear that Ross Ohlendorf has exercised his opt-out clause, as referenced in this WaPo story.

Bowie 6 Harrisburg 5
• Gilliam 4⅓ IP, 5H, 5R, 4ER, 2BB, 4K, 2HR
• Grace 2⅔ IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Bloxom 2-4, R, HR, 3RBI
• Head 2-4, R, 2B

Steve “Did You Know My Dad Was Al?” Bumbry homered off losing pitcher Pat McCoy in the 9th as Bowie overcame a 5-3 deficit to edge Harrisburg, 6-5. The BaySox also went deep twice against starter Rob Gilliam over his four and a 1/3rd innings. Matt Grace pitched two and 2/3rds scoreless in his AA debut, allowing three hits but walking none and fanning one. Justin Bloxom homered (as did Destin Hood) and drove in three, as he and veteran Jared Head both went 2-for-4 with a run scored to pace the Sens offense.

Potomac 9 Myrtle Beach 4
• Schwartz (W, 5-1) 7IP, 3H, 0R, 3BB, 5K
• Bates 1IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Sanchez 3-5, 2R, 2RBI
• Oduber 3-5, R, 2B, RBI
• Leonida 2-4, 2R, 2B, BB

A pair of four-run innings was more than enough for Blake Schwartz to work with as the bottom of the P-Nats order spanked the Pelicans for a 9-2 win, the seventh straight for Potomac. The Minnesota native won his team-leading fifth game in just eight starts with seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits and three walks while setting down five. The nos. 6-9 batters combined for nine hits, six runs, three doubles and three RBI. The win, combined with a Lynchburg loss, extends the P-Nats lead in the C.L. North to two games over Frederick and lowers the magic number to clinch the first half to 12.

Hagerstown 8 Kannapolis 2
• Purke 4⅔ IP, 3H, 0R, 2BB, 8K
• Rauh (W, 3-2) 4⅓ IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 3K
• Renda 4-5, 3R, 2-2B, SB
• Martinez 2-4, R, SB
• Norfork 2-5, 2RBI, SB

The Suns ran the Intimidators into the wall for an 8-2 win that broke a four-game skid. Matt Purke struck out eight in his second start of the season, but (presumably) hit his pitch limit and was lifted after four and 2/3rds innings, with three hits, two walks, and no runs allowed. Brian Rauh piggybacked again and finished the game for the “W,” giving up both Kannapolis runs on four hits and a walk while striking out three. Tony Renda, one of six Hagerstown All-Stars named yesterday, led the attack with two singles and two doubles (now tied for the league lead at 22) and stole his 11th base.

DSL Nationals 12 DSL Pirates2 4
• Yrizarri 4IP, 6H, 1R, 0ER, BB, K
• M. Salazar (W, 1-0) 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Gutierrez 3-6, 2R, 2B, 2RBI
• D. Rosario 2-5, 2R, BB, RBI
• Florentino 2-3, R, RBI, 2BB, SB

The D-Nats scored nine unanswered runs from the 3rd to 8th before D-Pirates2 got three runs late in a 12-4 smackdown. Venezuelan newcomer Deibi Yrizarri got the start, scattering six hits over four innings, with one unearned run and a walk allowed. Returnee Melvin Salazar got the win in relief with two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk. Kelvin Gutierrez led the attack with a 3-for-6 game, driving in two and and scoring twice.

Jun 042013
 

Catching Up On Transactions
Wavered between the row of ketchup bottles or forlorn Spike due to the unusually large number of releases and retirements announced today by the Hagerstown Suns. But with updates expected (e.g. Ian Krol in DC?), let’s go with the Heinz and start with the releases, beginning with a couple that were announced in the most recent transactions post by Baseball America.

RELEASED
• LHP Ben Hawkins (Potomac)
• RHP Dean Weaver
• RHP Chris McKenzie
• OF J.R. Higley

RETIRED
• RHP Jason Smith

ACTIVATED
• LHP Brett Mooneyham (DL)
• RHP Pedro Encarnacio (TIL)
• IF Matt Foat (XST)

What’s probably the most surprising thing about this is the swiftness and openness with which this was announced. Ordinarily, players are shuffled off to Viera, then quietly released a few days or weeks later. Occasionally, the news will break via Twitter in the form of gracious goodbye.

I’d like to think that perhaps this is new way of doing things, but I’d have to see it done more consistently to believe it. In any case, the usual reminder to please remember that friends & family (and agents) are watching and to keep the comments civil.

UPDATE #1
As you may have guessed, this was written while the [dust]storm was swirling. Here’s what’s now been confirmed by multiple online sources as it pertains to the minors:

• 2B/3B Anthony Rendon has been recalled to Washington
• LHP Ian Krol has been recalled to Washington

To make room for these two, LHP Zach Duke has been released and RHP Henry Rodriguez has been designated for assignment. Corresponding moves to the Syracuse and Harrisburg rosters have not yet been announced (hence the enumeration of the update).

Jun 042013
 


The South Atlantic League announced its All-Star teams today and six Hagerstown players, along with manager Tripp Keister and pitching coach Franklin Bravo, got the nod:

  • RHP Dixon Anderson
  • RHP Robert Benincasa
  • RF Brandon Miller
  • RHP Ivan Pineyro
  • 2B Tony Renda
  • C Pedro Severino

Surprisingly, this is the first All-Star appearance for all six players. For highlights on each player, visit the official press release from the Suns.

Jun 042013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 6-5 (11 inn.) @ Scranton/WB,
7:05 p.m.

Ohlendorf (4-5, 4.32) vs.
Cotham (1-3, 7.99)
Harrisburg OFF DAY vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Gilliam (1-1, 4.50) vs.
Jones (3-2, 4.68)
Potomac Won, 2-1 (10 inn.) @ Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Schwartz (4-1, 1.51) vs.
Asher (4-3, 2.86)
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. Kannapolis,
7:00 p.m.
Purke (0-0, 4.50) vs.
Cose (4-3, 1.72)
DSL Nationals Won, 6-5 @ DSL Pirates2,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD



Syracuse 6 Pawtucket 5 (11 inn.)
• Rosenbaum 6IP, 8H, 4R, 2ER, 2BB, 5K
• Roark (W, 3-2) 3⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 3BB, 2K, 2-0 IR-S
• Brown 4-5, 2R, 2B, 2HR, 2RBI, OF assist at HP
• Costanzo 3-5, 2R, 2B, 2HR, 3RBI
• Marrero 2-5, R, RBI

Corey Brown tied it on offense in the 9th and preserved the lead on defense in the 11th as the Chiefs rallied in extras to win, 6-5. The win ended a three-game slide and prevented a series sweep. Starter Danny Rosenbaum gave up four runs (two earned) on eight hits and two walks while striking out five. Tanner Roark got the win and pushed his IP streak without an earned run to 22⅔ over 11 appearances with three and a 1/3rd innings, assisted by both Brown and Zach Walters on a 7-6-2 play at the plate to end the game. The nos. 4-6 batters combined to go 9-for-15 with four HR, two 2B, and all six RBIs.
Roster moves: LHP J.C. Romero opted for free agency (was on 7-Day DL)

Harrisburg — OFF DAY
After an off day yesterday, the Senators’ six-game homestand resumes with a three-game series against the Bowie BaySox. Thanks in part to a six-game losing streak by Erie, Harrisburg is now just three games out of first place in the E.L. West.

Potomac 2 Myrtle Beach 1
• Hill 8⅔ IP, 3H, R, ER, 2BB, 7K
• Selik (W, 1-1) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, 1-0 IR-S
• Martinson 1-4, R, HR, RBI
• Nieto 1-4, R, HR, RBI

Jason Martinson’s HR in the 7th tied it at 1-1, Adrian Nieto’s HR in the 10th won it, 2-1 for Potomac over Myrtle Beach. Taylor Hill recovered from two disastrous outings to post his best, and the longest of the season for the P-Nats: eight and 2/3rds innings, with one run allowed on just three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Cameron Selik got the win by stranding a runner in the 9th and pitching a perfect 10th. Potomac was held to just four hits total with Randolph Oduber the sole P-Nat to get multiple hits with a pair of singles. The victory was the sixth in a row for Potomac, which now has the Carolina League’s best record at 32-24 and leads the Northern Division by 1½ games. Roster move: RHP Brian Dupra transferred from Syracuse.

Hagerstown — OFF DAY
After a miserable 1-5 road trip, the first-place Suns return to the Muni for four games in three days against the last-place Kannapolis Intimidators. Officially, today’s starter is TBD, but four pitchers have pitched since last Wednesday when Matt Purke emerged out of hiding was activated from the DL and is therefore listed as the probable.

DSL Nationals 6 DSL Cardinals 5
• Reyes 4⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 8K
• Feliz (W, 1-0) 1⅔ IP, 3H, 3R, 0ER, 0BB, K, 1-0 IR-S
• D. Rosario 1-2, 2R, 2BB
• Mota 1-2, R, RBI, 2BB, SB

A five-run 5th broke open a 1-0 game as the D-Nats held off a late charge by the D-Cards for a 6-5 win. 18-y.o. Luis Reyes got the start but went just 4⅔ innings, allowing one hit and one walk while fanning eight. 19-y.o. John Feli got the win, giving up three unearned runs on three hits over one and 2/3rds innings. Returnee Dinocio Rosario and 17-y.o. Israel Mota both went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks to lead the offense.

Jun 032013
 

Caleb ClayThrow a complete game shutout, earn Pitcher of the Week award for the period of May 27 to June 2.

Done and done for Caleb Clay, who achieved the feats with a three-hit shutout in 2-0 Harrisburg win on Saturday and the award today from the Eastern League.

Clay also pitched six and a 1/3rd strong innings last Monday, allowing a run on five hits and two walks while striking out nine, but did not factor in the decision for the Senators 3-1 win over Reading. For the week, Clay pitched 15⅓ innings and allowed just one run on eight hits and five walks while striking out 18.

The 25-year-old was signed during the offseason after being granted six-year free agency from Boston, which drafted him as the 44th pick of the 1st Round in 2006. Clay compiled a 15-28 mark with the Red Sox, including 13 saves as he spent the majority of the last two seasons with Portland (AA) as a reliever.

Thus far this season Clay is 5-2 with a line of 3.69/3.86/1.14 in 11 starts. His five wins leads the team while his 63⅓ innings pitched is just a 1/3rd of inning less than teammate Blake Treinen.

Clay is the third Harrisburg pitcher to be so named, following Paul Demny (May 6-12) and Nathan Karns (April 15-21).

Jun 032013
 

Rehabbing major leaguer Jayson Werth clubbed two three-run home runs to lead Potomac to its fifth straight win, 10-6, and complete the sweep of divisional rival Lynchburg.

The six runs driven in, however, masked another poor showing from A.J. Cole, who got the win despite allowing runs in each of the first three innings and four overall. The 21-year-old gave up four runs total on six hits, including a pair of home runs.

To his credit, he walked none and struck out eight. The problem is that when the Hillcats connected, there was little in-between — a loud out or a long drive, as just three of the 17 outs he recorded came on the ground.

Offensively, the Potomac lineup continues to improve as they continue to show patience (eight walks) while still delivering hits when they’re needed (5-for-12 with RISP). Like Friday night, the first inning was emblematic of this balance.

Billy Burns and Werth both drew walks while Michael Taylor singled to load the bases. Jason Martinson refused to take the bait of a steady diet of breaking pitches (the word is out) and drove in the first run with the inning’s third walk. Kevin Keyes followed with a two-run single to left to push the early lead to 3-0.

Patience would also play a part in both the Werth home runs. Francisco Soriano and Burns both walked with two outs in the 4th to set up the first big fly, a shot over the Budweiser sign in right-center (pictured). In the 8th, Soriano walked again and Billy Burns beat out an infield hit, then the two bookends trotted home ahead of Werth’s second shot, a first-pitch fastball deposited just short of the scoreboard in left field, turning a 7-6 lead into the 10-6 final outcome.

Potomac heads to Southern Division-leading Myrtle Beach for the next four games before returning for their final home series of the first half, a weekend set against the current second-place Frederick Keys.

Jun 032013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 10-3 @ Pawtucket,
7:05 p.m.

Rosenbaum (5-3, 3.54) vs.
Aceves (2-1, 3.13)
Harrisburg Won, 6-2 OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Won, 10-6 @ Myrtle Beach,
7:05 p.m.
Hill (4-2, 4.20) vs.
Eickoff (4-3, 4.01)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-2 OFF DAY N/A
DSL Nationals OFF DAY vs. DSL Cardinals,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD



Pawtucket 5 Syracuse 3
• Torra (L, 0-2) 5IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 2K
• Rendon 1-2, R, 2B, BB, K, E
• Brown 1-3, RBI

Pawtucket twice put up four-spots on the scoreboard, overcoming an early 2-0 Syracuse lead for a 10-3 romp. Starter Matt Torra was charged with four runs on six hits and a walk over the first five innings. Relievers Brian Dupra and Ryan Perry were lit up for six runs combined, five of the runs coming via the long ball. Anthony Rendon walked, scored a run, doubled but committed an error at second base. Eury Perez and Zach Walters each hit solo HRs for the early 2-0 lead, but otherwise the Chiefs were held to just five hits and three walks total.

Harrisburg 2 Trenton 0
• Garcia 1IP, H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Jordan (W, 3-0) 7IP, 3H, 2R, ER, BB, 4K
• Souza 2-4, 2R, HR, RBI
• Leon 2-3, R, 2B, BB, RBI

Taylor Jordan won for the third time in five outings as Harrisburg pulled away late from Trenton, 6-2. Christian Garcia put in his rehab inning in the first, allowing a hit with no walks or strikeouts. Jordan pitched the next seven, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk while fanning four. Steve Souza’s solo HR highlighted a three-run 8th as part of a 2-for-4 game that extended his streak to 10 games, his seventh with multiple hits since coming off the DL on May 24th.

Potomac 10 Lynchburg 6
• Cole 5⅓ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 8K, 2HR
• Mirowski 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Werth 2-4, 3R, 2HR, 6RBI, BB
• Keyes 2-5, R, 2RBI
• Taylor 2-5, R, 2B

Jayson Werth went deep twice to power Potomac to its fifth straight win Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge.

Lexington 3 Hagerstown 2
• Pineyro 5⅔ IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 10K, HR, WP
• Smith (L, 0-1) 1⅔ IP, 2H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 1K
• Renda 2-5, RBI, SB
• Piwnica-Worms 1-2, 2B, 2BB

The Legends rallied for three in the 8th to break a 2-2 tie and complete the sweep of the Suns with a 5-2 win. Starter Ivan Pineyro struck out 10 but got the no-decision with two runs allowed on five hits and a walk over five and 2/3rds innings. Jason Smith took the loss with the decisive trio of runs coming on his watch over one and 2/3rds innings. Tony Renda went 2-for-5 while Brandon Miller connected on a solo HR but the clutch hit eluded Hagerstown as they went 0-for-11 with RISP and stranded 10 baserunners.

DSL Nationals — OFF DAY
After getting shut out 8-0 on Saturday, the DSL Nationals rematch against the DSL Cardinals today, as the six-games-a-week grind begins.

Jun 022013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-3 @ Pawtucket,
1:05 p.m.

Torra (0-1, 5.73) vs.
De La Rosa (0-1, 3.45)
Harrisburg Won, 2-0 vs. Trenton,
2:00 p.m.
Jordan (2-0, 1.00) vs.
Turley (5-2, 4.10)
Potomac Won, 5-4 vs. Lynchburg,
1:05 p.m.
Solis (0-0, 1.50) vs.
Weber (3-1, 2.61)
Hagerstown Lost, 3-2 @ Lexington,
1:35 p.m.
Pineyro (4-3, 3.35) vs.
Binford (4-2, 2.73)
DSL Nationals Lost, 8-0 OFF DAY TBD vs. TBD



Pawtucket 5 Syracuse 3
• Tatusko (L, 0-2) 7IP, 7H, 4R, 3ER, 2BB, 5K
• Cedeno 1IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K
• Costanzo 2-3, BB
• Marrero 1-3
• Rendon 1-4, R, BB

Pawtucket scored in each of its last four at-bats, including unearned runs in the 7th and 8th, which were the difference in a 5-3 win over Syracuse. Starter Ryan Tatusko took the loss but went seven innings with four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks while striking out five. Anthony Rendon walked and singled in his first two PAs but finished 1-for-4. Corey Brown homered for the third straight game while Chris Marrero singled to extend his hit streak to 10 games.
Roster moves: RHP Brian Dupra assigned from Auburn, RHP Erik Davis recalled to Washington.

Harrisburg 2 Trenton 0
• Clay (W, 5-2) 9IP, 3H, 0R, 3BB, 9K
• Souza 1-3, BB, SB, CS
• Hood 1-2, RBI, SF

Caleb Clay went the distance in a three-hit shutout, the first nine-inning number by a Senator since 2005, as Harrisburg blanked Trenton, 2-0. Clay struck out nine (tying his career best) and walked three while throwing 117 pitches, 70 for strikes. Steve Souza Jr. singled, walked, and stole a base while Destin Hood went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and an RBI to lead the Senators offense.
Roster move: IF Anthony Rendon promoted to Syracuse.

Potomac 5 Lynchburg 4
• Solis 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 1K
• Fischer 3IP, 0H, 2R, 0ER, 4BB, 1K
• Keyes 2-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Nieto 2-4, R, 2RBI

Caleb Ramsey’s one-out, walkoff double in the 9th propelled Potomac to a 5-4 win, its fourth in a row, and sole possession of first place in the Carolina League North. Starter Sammy Solis went the first five innings, giving up two runs on six hits but walking one and setting down one on strikes. David Fischer walked four and gave up two unearned runs in three hitless innings after Solis. Derek Self got the win in relief after tossing a 1-2-3 ninth. Kevin Keyes and Adrian Nieto both went 2-for-4 with two RBI to pace the P-Nats attack.
Roster move: LHP Matt Grace promoted to Harrisburg.

Lexington 3 Hagerstown 2
• Lee 5IP, 4H, R, ER, 3BB, 6K, WP, BK
• Hudgins (BS, 2;L, 2-1) 1IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 0K
• Martinez 1-3, BB
• Perez 2-4, R

Hagerstown took a 2-0 lead with single runs in the 3rd and 5th innings, but Lexington got one in the 5th and two in the 6th and won the battle of the bullpens, 3-2. Starter Nick Lee struck out six over five innings but walked three while giving up a run on four hits. Will Hudgins gave up two of the Legends’ three extra-base hits along with a walk to take the loss for his single inning of work. The Suns were held to just seven singles and went 0-for-7 with RISP and stranded eight baserunners.

DSL Cardinals 8 DSL Nationals 0
• Valerio 4IP, 3H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Rosario (L, 0-1) 2⅔ IP, 4H, 4R, 1ER, 2BB, K
• Corredor 3-4, 2B
• Gutierrez 2-4

The DSL Cardinals scored seven runs in their final two “ups” to blast the DSL Nationals, 8-0. Second-year man Maximo Valerio pitched four scoreless, allowing a walk and three hits while striking out three. 17-y.o. Ramses Rosario took the loss, giving up four runs (one earned) on four hits, with two walks and one strikeout. 17-y.o. Aldrem Corredor went 3-for-4 with a double to lead the D-Nats offense.

Jun 012013
 

Transactions for NPP 3Score one for the local beat writers, who got the news first and got it right… As reported last night by the Patriot-News, Anthony Rendon has indeed been promoted from Harrisburg to Syracuse.

At Syracuse, Rendon will work with manager Tony Beasley and play second base, the Nationals tacitly admitting the obvious that the parent club needs him at second base this sooner rather than later.

Also promoted was LHP Matt Grace, going from Potomac to Harrisburg. Grace was a 2010 Draft pick out of UCLA and was a starter until this season, where he’s been uneven (4 blown saves) for the P-Nats but 2-0 with a pitcher’s line of 3.18/2.80/1.17 (ERA/FIP/WHIP).

Corresponding moves by Potomac and/or Hagerstown have not yet been announced.

Last, but not least, RHP Erik Davis has been recalled from Syracuse. He’ll be taking the place of OF Bryce Harper, who was placed on the DL retroactive to May 27. Davis was picked up in a trade in March 2011 and added to the Nats 40-man roster this past November.

Jun 012013
 

Potomac sent nine men to the plate in the first two innings to rack up nine runs en route to a 10-1 win over the first-place Lynchburg, the third straight win for the Woodbridge nine.

Much of the damage was self-inficted. Hillcats thrower A.J. Holland walked the bases loaded to start the game, then gave up a one-run single to Jason Martinson and a two-run safety to Adrian Nieto. A wild pitch brought in the fourth run, a fourth walk ended Holland’s night after just six batters faced.

Veteran reliever James Hoyt got out of the first inning with a flyball, groundout and a strikeout. But the second inning was nearly a repeat of the first. A pair of walks sandwiched around a Jayson Werth single (you did know he was playing, right?) got the bases drunk and Jason Martinson sobered ’em up with a three-run double.

Adrian Nieto doubled in Martinson, Kevin Keyes got a hometown single as the Hillcat third baseman waved at it and missed for an unruled error to move up Nieto and Caleb Ramsey capped the rally with sacrifice fly to left field.

After two it was 9-0.

The unfortunate side effect of the two crooked numbers was the time Robbie Ray spent cooling on the bench. After the four-run first, it didn’t seem to faze him as the 21-year-old struck out the side. But following the five-run second, his command wavered badly as turned in a Nuke LaLoosh inning of three walks and three strikeouts that ended his night early — the second time this month he was done after just three innings with seven strikeouts.

Colin Bates took over for Ray in the 4th got the win with four innings of scoreless relief, followed by single frames by Rob Wort and Richie Mirowski. After Hoyt, the Lynchburg ‘pen matched their counterparts five goose eggs, but the pressure will be on tonight’s Hillcats starter to go deep.

That’ll be the task for Ryan Weber (3-1, 2.61), with Sammy Solis (0-0, 1.50) making his third trip to the hill since missing 2012 after elbow surgery.
                                                                    #                                     #                                     #

With the end of the first half in sight (two weeks from tomorrow), the Carolina League North is in for yet another photo finish.

Lynchburg leads Potomac and Frederick by a half game but is in the driver’s seat in that they play those two teams for the next six games, then finish with 10 games against the Southern Division’s second- and third-place teams.

Frederick is playing last-place Wilmington tonight and tomorrow, but it doesn’t get easier for them as they play first- or second-place teams the rest of the way, including eight games against Potomac, though the last five will be at Harry Grove.

On paper, Potomac’s schedule is a little easier than Frederick’s but just five of the next 17 games are at the Pfitz. Whatever “break” they get from playing last-place Carolina for three on June 10-13 is more than offset than four games against the first-place Myrtle Beach.

Which leads us to Wilmington, which could sneak up on everybody by simply splitting with Frederick, then making hay against the Southern Division’s also-rans while the rest of the Northern Division plays each other.

Stay tuned to this space as we track the stretch run.