Five times the Lynchburg Hillcats scored in the second inning, but five times the Potomac Nationals scored after the second out of the inning, including once in the 9th and once in the 10th for a thrilling 7-6 win in extras.
Francisco Soriano drove in a lumbering Kevin Keyes from first base for the deciding run with a double to the right-centerfield wall to complete the comeback from deficits of 5-0 and 6-1. Keyes led the 15-hit attack with a single, double, and a home run, while also drawing a walk.
As with any comeback win, often unsung is the effort of the bullpen, which threw eight and a 1/3rd innings with just one run allowed on four hits, no walks, and eight strikeouts. Ryan Demmin was the first man out and finished off the second inning without throwing a pitch, catching an ill-advised steal of third with a five-run lead, the first of two critical baserunning blunders.
The big southpaw turned in four innings of solid relief, retiring the first seven batters he faced before giving up back-to-back doubles in the 5th. Another single came after that, with Michael Taylor ever-so-slightly overrunning the ball, but staying on his feet to unleash an off-target bullet to the infield. Steven King laid out to cut it off and keep it from skipping past Freitas. The defensive sequence wasn’t technically pretty, but the runner stayed put.
After single runs in the 4th and 5th innings — David Freitas RBI double, a Soriano sac fly to drive in Keyes — the P-Nats came up big in the 6th with three runs, highlighted by Keyes’ 14th HR to pull within one.
Demmin gave way to Drew Storen in the 7th, and the rehabbing closer set down the side in the 9th. He still looks deliberate and tentative, but it was nice rebound after rough outing on Sunday in Harrisburg. Jimmy Barthmaier hit a batter but retired the the other six batters he faced in the 8th and 9th innings.
Potomac went down in order in the 7th, and left ‘em loaded in the 8th, but as pictured above, got the tying run that made the 10th inning heroics. With two outs, Xavier Nady finally showed proof that he has played above the level with his second single of the game. Adrian Sanchez pinch-ran and took third on a Freitas single to left. Jason Martinson delivered nearly the same hit to the same place to plate Sanchez.
Neil Holland got the win, thanks in part to the aforementioned second baserunning blunder. After giving up a leadoff single, Lynchburg elected to bunt over the go-ahead run. Perhaps it was a calculated gamble that Ricky Hague, who had covered for King vacating first to field the sacrifice, would be slow to notice or maybe it was the hubris that comes with a leadoff man’s speed. In any case, like a Monty Python character in drag, nobody was fooled as Freitas directed Hague to fire over to third for the 1-4-5 double play.
Game Three of the four-game series is scheduled to have Robbie Ray (3-6, 5.11) take the mound against Gus Schlosser (9-4, 3.45), though multiple reports have Chien-Ming Wang pitching tonight as well.