On a warm August night, the sunlight fading like the hopes of playing past Labor Day, the Potomac Nationals put it all together in all three phases of the game for a 4-0 win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
Three pitchers combined on the seven-hit shutout, led by starter Austen Williams. The 22-y.o. Texan was perfect through three and allowed three hits total through six innings. He walked one and struck out three to earn his fourth win for Potomac and 12th overall, which for what it’s worth, leads the Nationals minors.
He was followed by Derek Self, who was his usual self in turning in two scoreless but uneven innings with three hits allowed, no walks, and one whiff for the hold, his third for Potomac. Dupra closed out the ballgame in the 9th with one hit allowed and one strikeout.
Offensively, it wasn’t so much the bats as it was the legs of Rafael Bautista. The young Dominican drew a leadoff walk, then stole second and third rather easily, then scored on Grant DeBruin’s two-out single — the first of three RBI for the veteran minor-leaguer.
Two innings later, Bautista singled and stole second. In the 5th, he doubled, stole third (that’s four, if you’ve lost count) and stole home on a flyball to shallow center field, though technically it was sacrifice fly for Alex Keller.
In his final at-bat, he easily beat out a tapper to third but was picked off trying for his official fifth base. Final line: 3-for-3, 2R, 2B, BB, 4SB. In total, the P-Nats rapped out 11 hits, with DeBruin also getting three, and John Wooten going 2-for-4 with a double. They were 4-for-11 with RISP and left on just six.
With the win, Potomac improves to 22-25 in the second half but trails the Lynchburg Hillcats by five and a half games and just three games left between the two teams. Their elimination number stands at 18 with 23 games left to play.
The series continues tonight with a matchup of Brian Rauh (2-1, 2.21) for Potomac vs. Alec Mills (6-6, 2.73) for Wilmington.