Apr 102011

The 2011 edition of Potomac Nationals is apparently aware that walkoff wins on Sunday afternoon are a new tradition in Woodbridge, as Rick Hague doubled over the centerfielder’s head with two outs in the bottom of the tenth for a 7-6 win.

The double was Hague’s second hit and second RBI of the game, as the P-Nats pummeled Hillcats pitchers for 13 on the afternoon, with every batter getting a hit and four batters getting two, highlighted by Steve Souza’s second home run in as many days (and at-bats) with a solo shot in the second inning. Souza would also collect two RBI on the afternoon.

It made a winner out of Pat Lehman who misplayed a sacrifice bunt inthe 9th into a hit after a leadoff single and lost a valiant battle to Lynchburg’s Rick Gosselin after another sacrifice set up a 2nd-and-3rd with one out as the Hillcat DH chopped a grounder to Souza for an RBI groundout.

Lehman pitched a scoreless tenth, surviving an error that Brian Peacock erased by throwing out pinchrunner-turned-OF L.V. Ware for the second time in the game.

Trevor Holder pitched the first six innings, allowing three runs on six hits, but three of those went for extra bases, including a two-run blast to LF that would have been out most parks (except maybe Yellowstone). It’s a pattern that persists from last August-September: when his pitches are up in the zone, hitters will make him pay.

Like Souza and Hague, King and J.P. Ramirez also notched two hits to take the edge off both having an 0-for-4, 2K line in the boxscore last night. King did commit the 10th-inning error, but it was hardly a black mark after notching nine assists and snaring a line drive in the ten previous chances over two games. Similarly, Steve Souza’s transition across the diamond has been a success, as the 21-year-old has simply made all the plays and looked smooth.

With the win, the P-Nats split the series and play host to the Winston-Salem for the next three, the first meeting between the two 2010 Mills Cup finalists.

Aug 222010

The Winston-Salem Dash reasserted themselves as the class of the Carolina league with a 9-8 victory (and a series win) over Potomac today. But with a four-run eighth and the tying run being cut down at the plate in the ninth to end the game, Potomac let it be known that this may not be the last time these two teams meet in 2010.

The allure of a rehabbing pitcher is a great marketing tool to draw casual fans to a minor-league, but regular readers of this space already know that rehab starts are overrated. This Sunday was no exception.

Despite the threat of rain, Yunesky Maya took the mound in Potomac and looked every bit the pitcher who hadn’t faced experienced professional hitters in more than a year. And make no mistake: This Winston-Salem team can hit. As a team, they’re averaging a line of .287/.351/.432 in a league where the median is .260/.330/.386

Maya’s command was spotty, but he got hitters out the first time through the lineup while fiddling with both his pitches (fastball, slider, curve) and his arm angle (overhand and three-quarters). At times his motion was fluid, but more often than not, he was slow and deliberate. The most impressive of his pitches was his curve, which he threw at two distinctly different speeds.

The second time through the lineup, the Dash took advantage of Maya’s rust as the first six batters reached base in the fourth inning before he retired the No.9 hitter by strikeout, as the Dash scored five runs on five hits and two walks during the inning. The fifth inning wasn’t any better, as the cleanup hitter smacked a long solo HR to right field and the second batter walked before he was lifted with no outs by manager Gary Cathcart.

Maya’s final line: four-plus innings, six runs (all earned) on seven hits, with three walks and four strikeouts.

Put in a 6-1 hole by a rehabbing pitcher, the Potomac offense did not, however, roll over. They would mimic their opponents in the sixth with a walk and four singles sandwiched around a strikeout by Jose Lozada, who smacked a would-coulda-grand slam for a very loud strike one, to cut the lead to 6-3.

Winston-Salem answered right back with three runs in the seventh to go back up 9-3. Like a punch-drunk boxer, the response would come late, in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Lozada doubled, Jerome Walton singled to score him for a 9-4 tally, then Francisco Soriano walked to load the bases for Chris Curran.

Curran blistered a ball down the first base line that the first baseman was unable to handle — a questionable ruling as an error — but a play that sent home both Walton and Soriano to narrow the gap to 9-6. Sean Nicol’s infield single off Dash closer Tyson Corley would complete the four-run rally, Winston-Salem 9, Potomac 7 after eight full innings.

In the bottom of the ninth, Potomac would rally once again with one out. Sean Rooney doubled to left, Lozada singled to move him to third, and Walton singled to score Rooney. Soriano would fly to right, Lozada tagging to take third. A wild pitch sent Lozada scampering home for the possible game-tying run, but the catcher got a strong rebound and gunned it to Corley for the tag, the third out, and a 9-8 final in favor of the Dash.

The loss, combined with a Wilmington win in Lynchburg, reduces the Potomac lead back to 1½ games as the Blue Rocks come to town tomorrow for a three-game showdown. Trevor Holder is set to take the hill against Aaron Crow, the Washington Nationals No. 9 draft choice that went unsigned in 2008.