Aug 312010
 

Despite late-inning heroics, the Potomac Nationals couldn’t take both games of the doubleheader and had to settle for a split to open up the last regular-season road trip of 2010 with a 5-2 win and a 3-2 loss.

GAME ONE
In opening game, Potomac pounced on Salem’s Michael Lee, connecting for three doubles on their first three hits as Derek Norris, Jamar Walton doubled before and after a two-out walk to Tyler Moore to take a 2-0 lead in the first.

Dan Lyons got double number three to lead off the second and came in on an RBI single by Francisco Soriano, who in turn scampered in when Chris Curran tripled him in. Bill Rhinehart would single after a walk to Norris to complete the rally and the scoring for game one.

Zach Hammes came on in relief of Lee and stifled the P-Nats bats over the next four innings while Salem picked away at the Potomac lead, which began with two runs in the bottom of the second off starter Jimmy Barthmaier, who went five innings and gave up five hits.

Rob Wort came on in relief in the sixth and failed to retire a batter, issuing two walks around a double. A.J. Morris preserved the lead with a first-pitch double play that plated the third Salem run and got the final out in the sixth.

The seventh, however, was a little different as Morris issued two walks and knocked down a ball that went for an infield single but also got two strikeouts and a flyball to earn his second save for Potomac and preserve the 5-3 win.

GAME TWO
Pitching on two days’ rest, Pat Lehman got the nod to start the nightcap and sailed through the Salem lineup with just two base runners allowed over the first three innings. In the fourth, Alex Hassan and Oscar Tejeda hit back-to-back jacks to erase an early 1-0 lead that came courtesy of a Norris solo HR in the first. Lehman would finish the inning, allowing five hits over his four innings of work with no walks and two strikeouts.

But like the first game, Potomac’s offense was the long hit or no hit at all. After the Norris big fly, the next five batters would go down in order. Then Robby Jacobsen committed the cardinal sin of making the first out at third by trying to stretch a leadoff double into a triple in the fourth, then six batters went down in order until Jamar Walton doubled with one out in the 5th.

Thus, the 2-1 lead looked almost safe as Salem veteran Mark Holliman went for the complete game and started the seventh. Bill Rhinehart doubled high off the RF wall to lead off the inning and Tyler Moore made a loud out to chase Holliman. Sean Rooney greeted Sox reliever Cesar Cabral with a double to left to cash in “Dolla” Rhinehart and pinch-hitter Jose Lozada singled to left, but too sharply for Rooney to come in from second. The rally was then killed when Cabral got Sean Nicol to roll (hey, that rhymes) into a 6-4-3 double play.

Justin Phillabaum, who had pitched the sixth, came out to pitch the seventh and immediately surrendered a leadoff single that Salem turned into a double as pinch-runner Ryan Dent stole second.

Potomac seemed for just a brief moment to have fortune on their side when a towering popup to shallow center caught Dent in-between as Chris Curran sprinted in after misjudging the arc of the ball and got the double-play call. But a walk and an error kept the inning alive, and .

With the top of the order coming up (and a lefthanded batter), Gary Cathcart summoned Joe Testa to escape the jam. The lefty-on-lefty matchup was rendered moot with a walk, loading the bases. And the game was lost when a 3-2 fastball was deemed too inside for the walkoff walk, and a 3-2 Potomac loss.

With the split and a Wilmington win, the Potomac lead is down to 1½ games (two in the loss column). The series continues tomorrow with Marcos Frias set to take the mound against Miguel Gonzalez.

Aug 262010
 

April and Sue are both hitting the road for vacations, and we know this will shock you… but we’re going to see some baseball along the way. With our foreign correspondent trekking through the hinterlands of Canada and Northern New England and yours truly heading down I-81 to see some Appy League action (really advance scouting?) in Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia, Internet access may not be so reliable. But we’ll do our best to keep the News and Notes afloat and hope to have some features for you as well.

Jun 292010
 

It took a ten-hour drive over two days, but the Vermont Lake Monsters did not disappoint, delivering a 2-0 win on mild summer Monday night.

Pitching was the name of the game. Both teams would get four hits, but two of the Lake Monsters’ would leave the yard, courtesy of Stephen King and Ronnie Labrie.

They would be the difference, but it wasn’t nearly that simple. With eleven baserunners total, Tri-City would threaten to score in each of the first seven innings.

Taylor Jordan’s line of 5IP 3H 0R 2BB and 5K looks a lot more dominant today on virtual paper than it did in person yesterday. Which is not to say that he was lucky, only that it didn’t feel like he was cruising at any point last night.

To his credit, he worked out of every jam regardless of whether he created it (two walks, a hit batsmen) or his defense failed him (two errors), mixing his fastball, change and curveball just enough to be effective.

Jordan was followed by Ben Graham, a sidearmer that had sharp movement on nearly every pitch, except for his curve, which tends to float and then softly break. Prediction: That will be shelved once he faces more disciplined hitters.

Graham would provide three solid innings of relief, then turn it over to Dustin Crane for a 1-2-3 ninth, punctuated by a strikeout.

Some more Quick Hits…
…Leadoff hitter Chad Mozingo displayed a patient eye, working the count full in his first at-bat. Out in left, has a very strong arm nearly tossing out one runner at second base, and freezing that same runner at third base on a flyball to medium left to keep the game at 0-0

…Stephen King looked much better than I’ve ever seen him before on defense, highlighted by turning an awkward feed from second into a smooth double play in the sixth

…Ronnie LaBrie’s and Blake Miller’s errors, however, were of the high-school variety, neither getting in front of the ball to knock it down.

…Connor Rowe struggled with breaking pitches in both of his first two at-bats before drawing a walk. Defensively, covers a lot of ground in center.

…Centennial Field may be the oldest ballpark in affiliated baseball, but it’s not the worst by any means. Most of its disrepair and decay are reversible, and attributable — like most older ballparks — to a lack of proper maintenance, not structural problems.