Apr 192012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-1
(11 inn.)
vs. Pawtucket,
12:00 p.m.
Duke (1-1, 4.91) vs.
Wilson (1-0, 1.80)
Harrisburg Won, 7-1 @ Trenton,
7:05 p.m.
Ballard (0-1, 5.23) vs.
Romanski (1-0, 5.23)
Potomac Postponed vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Hansen (1-1, 7.88) vs.
Celestino (1-1, 3.60)
Hagerstown Lost, 6-2 vs. Lakewood,
7:05 p.m.
McKenzie (0-1, 10.50) vs.
Kleven (1-1, 2.45)

Pawtucket 6 Syracuse 1 (11 inn.)
• Lannan (ND) 6IP, 6H, R, ER, BB, 2K
• Arnesen 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Brown 1-3, 2BB
• Michaels 1-3, R, 2B, BB

The Chiefs had held the PawSox to just two runs over the previous 22 innings, but the levee broke in the top of the 11th with a five-run implosion as Pawtucket defeated the Chiefs, 6-1. John Lannan finally turned in the kind of start you’d expect from a major-leaguer at AAA, with just a solo HR given up over six innings. The problem is that the Syracuse offense, which was shut out on Tuesday, was just as woeful on Wednesday: Just five hits and five walks over 11 innings. Hassan Pena took the loss, loading the bases on a walk and two singles, and sending in the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk. Josh Wilkie nearly escaped the jam with a first-batter strikeout (out #2 of the inning), but then gave up a bases-clearing double to put the game out of reach, and a single to add insult to injury. Bryce Harper went 0-for-5 to drop his season average to .222

Harrisburg 7 Altoona 1
• Rosenbaum 9IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 9K, 95-71 B-S
• Pahuta 2-4, 2R, HR, 3RBI
• Rahl 2-4, R, HR, 2RBI
• King 2-4, RBI

Already the most accomplished Nats pitching prospect in the organization, Danny Rosenbaum put another notch on his belt with a four-hit, nine-inning complete game in a 7-1 win over Altoona. The 24-year-old southpaw needed just 95 pitches to do it, pounding the zone with 71 strikes. Can’t say that this surprises me; I’ve seen something like it before. The Senators also gave Rosenbaum plenty of support, with the 4-5-6 batters (Pahuta-Rahl-King) each going 2-for-4, with Pahuta and Rahl smacking back-to-back jacks in the 7th. The Senators finished their first homestand with a 4-3 mark and now hit the road for Trenton and Altoona before returning to City Island next Friday.

Potomac vs. Frederick — PPD
The rains that pelted the DC area yesterday forced the first postponement of the 2012 campaign. The game will be made up with a doubleheader on Tuesday, June 5th, which might be pivotal as last year’s two playoff teams from the Carolina League’s Northern Division were already set for a four-game series. Currently, both are in second place, two and a half games behind Lynchburg. The P-Nats return to Woodbridge tonight for a four-game series against the Salem Red Sox.

Delmarva 6 Hagerstown 2
• Turnbull (L, 0-1) 4⅔ IP, 9H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 5K
• Hill 3⅓ IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 3K, 1-0 IR-S
• Jimenez 2-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Burns 1-3, R

The Shorebird batters turned into the Lehman Brothers in the middle innings, putting up crooked numbers in three consecutive innings for another 6-2 win over the Suns. Kylin Turnbull took the loss with all six runs charged against him over four and 2/3rds innings, giving up nine hits and two walks. Taylor Hill finished the game with three and 1/3rd scoreless innings. Despite the solid relief, the Hagerstown nine couldn’t mount a late-inning charge and were limited to just six hits and one walk. Hendry Jimenez was the leading batter with a 2-for-4 night, driving in both Suns runs with a third-inning double. The Suns will be back in action tonight at the Muni for a four against the Lakewood BlueClaws.

Apr 182012
 

As referenced in this morning’s News & Notes, the Potomac Nationals have indeed added another pitcher, activating RHP Shane McCatty from Extended Spring Training, per an official team release.

McCatty is a 34th round pick from the 2009 Draft. He spent 2011 in Hagerstown primarily as a reliever, appearing in 30 games with one start. He compiled a 2-3 record with one save, a 6.63 ERA, and a 1.632 WHIP.

Via Twitter, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus and Matt Eddy of Baseball America are both reporting that the Nationals have signed 27-year-old infielder Jim Negrych, an ’06 Sixth-Round Pick that spend 2011 in AA for the Marlins, posting a .304/.370/.402 line.

No assignment or corresponding move for the Negrych signing has been officially announced. As always, if one is made or found in the next day or so, this space will be updated.

Apr 182012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 1-0 vs. Pawtucket,
6:00 p.m.
Lannan (0-2, 13.50) vs.
Cook (2-0, 1.50)
Harrisburg Won, 4-0 vs. Altoona,
7:00 p.m.
Rosenbaum (1-0, 2.13) vs.
Baker (2-0, 0.82)
Potomac Won, 5-3 @ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Hansen (1-1, 7.88) vs.
Copeland (1-0, 0.00)
Hagerstown Lost, 6-2 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Turnbull (0-0, 3.72) vs.
Bridwell (1-0, 2.70)

Pawtucket 1 Syracuse 0
• Maya (ND) 7⅓ IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 3K
• Wilkie (L, 0-1) 1⅓ IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 2K, HR, IR-S 3-0
• VanAllen ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, IR-S 1-0
• Hoffpauir 2-3

Ryan Lavarnway’s solo shot off Josh Wilkie was the sole score of the night to send the Chiefs to a 1-0 defeat. The two teams combined for just 11 hits, with Lavarnway and Syracuse’s Jarrett Hoffpauir the only muti-hit performances of the night. Yunesky Maya turned in 7⅓ innings but left the bases loaded in the 8th. Wilkie escaped that jam with a double play ball. The Chiefs got the tying and winning runs on in the last of the ninth, thanks to singles by Seth Bynum and Tyler Moore, with a wild pitch setting up a 2nd-and-3rd with two out situation for Bryce Harper. Facing the 35-year-old Brandon Duckworth, the 19-year-old scorched a liner… right at second baseman Tony Thomas to end the game.

Harrisburg 4 Altoona 0
• Mandel (W, 1-1) 7IP, 4H, 0R, BB, 4K; 2-3, 3RBI
• Nelo (SV, 1) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, K
• Hood 1-3, R, 2B, BB, SB
• Rahl 1-4, R, RBI

Jeff Mandel must have felt like he was back in high school, throwing seven shutout innings while going for 2-for-3 with 3RBI, as he powered the Senators past the Curve for a 4-0 shutout. The 26-year-old also picked up his first win of the season while lowering his ERA to 0.96. Hector Nelo picked up the save despite allowing four baserunners in two innings, walking a pair in the 8th and giving up two singles in the 9th. Destin Hood doubled, walked, and scored a run to lead the position players on offense.

Potomac 5 Frederick 3
• Winters (W, 1-1) 6IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 6K, HR
• Eusebio (H, 1) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Oduber 2-4, 2R, 2B
• Taylor 1-3, 2B, 2RBI

After coughing up a two-run shot early, Kyle Winters settled down to turn in a quality start of six innings pitched to earn his first win for the P-Nats. Wilson Eusebio followed with two scoreless to give the ball to Rob Wort, who did his best imitation of Chad Cordero by walking one, giving up three straight singles, the striking out the side with the bases loaded for the save. Randolph Oduber paced the offense from the leadoff spot with a 2-for-4 night, followed by Michael Taylor, who doubled in the first two runs in the top of the 1st. David Freitas also connected for solo shot in the 6th. Just prior to the game, Brent Greer and Josh Smoker were placed on the 7-Day DL. A follower reported to me on Twitter that Greer had broken his finger during BP; no word on Smoker. The roster now stands at 24 with three catchers, as Sam Palace was activated from the DL, with C James Skelton the likely option to replace Greer on an emergency basis (73G experience).

Delmarva 6 Hagerstown 2
• Meyer (L, 1-2) 5IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 7K
• Newsome 2-4
• Leonida 2-4
• Skole 1-4, RBI (16, leads SAL lg.)

Alex Meyer made it out of the first inning, matching zeros with O’s uber-prospect Dylan Bundy for the first three, but ran into trouble in the 4th and 5th innings as the Shorebirds pecked him for three runs en route to a 6-2 win over the Suns. For the second straight game, Hagerstown did all its scoring in the 9th. Delmarva committed two errors to lead to the two unearned runs. Brett Newsome and Cole Leonida both went 2-for-4 to combine for four of the seven Suns hits. OF Brian Goodwin is eligible to come off the DL, but is not yet ready to return to game action, per the Suns radio broadcast last night.

Apr 172012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-3 vs. Pawtucket,
6:00 p.m.
Maya (1-1, 4.50) vs.
Germano (1-1, 3.60)
Harrisburg Lost, 5-2 vs. Altoona,
7:00 p.m.
Mandel (0-1, 1.54) vs.
Colla (0-1, 7.00)
Potomac Won, 6-4
(11 inn.)
@ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Winters (0-1, 4.09) vs.
Simon (0-1, 7.20)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-4 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Meyer (1-1, 7.94) vs.
D. Bundy (0-0, 0.00)

Pawtucket 4 Syracuse 3
• Roark (L, 0-3) 5⅓ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 3K, 3HR
• Severino 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 3K, IR-S: 2-0
• Harper 2-4, R, 2B; 1PO, 1E(3) in CF
• Johnson 2-4, 2B, RBI, CS
• Moore 1-4, 2K; 1PO, 0E in LF

The big fly was Tanner Roark’s undoing as all four PawSox runs came on the three round-trippers he gave up in a 4-3 loss by the Chiefs. All three Syracuse runs came in the bottom of the seventh, the last coming when ex-Nat Garrett Mock let in one inherited run (SSDU) then struck out the side (WTF). Josh Johnson was 2-for-4 in his AAA debut. Bryce Harper doubled and scored a run, but also committed his third error of the season. Tyler Moore played his first game in LF and made a putout. His single in the 4th extended his hit streak to seven games.

Altoona 5 Harrisburg 2
• Demny (L, 0-1) 3IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 5BB, 2K
• Frias 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Rahl 2-4, R, RBI, 2SB
• Kobernus 2-4, R, 2B

Paul Demny continues to give up the free pass, with three unintentional and five total in a 5-2 loss to Altoona. The 22-year-old has walked four or more in all three starts for a total of 13 in 11⅔ innings. Two of the three he walked scored in the three-run third, chasing him from the game as he had already thrown 79 pitches. Jeff Kobernus and Chris Rahl both went 2-for-4 to pace the Senators offense, with Rahl swiping both second and third in the 4th, but the rest of the lineup managed just three hits and struck out nine times (10 total).

Potomac 6 Frederick 4 (10 inn.)
• Swynenberg 3⅔ IP, 9H, 4R, 3ER, BB, K
• Selik (W, 1-1) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Taylor 3-5, 2B, RBI, OF assist (3B)
• Oduber 2-5, 2RBI, CS, OF assist (HP)
• Nicol 2-5, 2R, HR, RBI

A day after getting smacked like a cheatin’ spouse on daytime talk show, the P-Nats ‘pen turned in a sensational effort to help the offense mount a comeback for a 6-4 win in 10 innings over the Keys. Ryan Demmin, Neil Holland, and Cameron Selik combined for six and a 1/3rd shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out six. Randolph Oduber’s two-out single in the 10th was the gamewinner. The Groovin’ Aruban also gunned down a runner at the plate, one of two kills from the outfield. Michael Taylor had the other, cutting down a runner at third while going 3-for-5 to lead the hit parade.

Delmarva 5 Hagerstown 4
• Dupra (L, 0-3) 5IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, BB, K
• Karns 3IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 4K, WP
• Nieto 3-4, R
• Martinson 1-5, R, HR, 3RBI

Highlighted by Jason Martinson’s three-run blast with two out, Hagerstown rallied for all four of their runs in the 9th but fell short in a 5-4 loss to Delmarva. It was, however, the sole clutch hit as the Suns went 1-for-7 with RISP and stranded eight. Brian Dupra had a no-no through three and third, but got tagged for four runs on six hits by the last 10 batters he faced and took the loss, his third on the season. Adrian Nieto was the leading Suns batter with a 3-for-4 night.

Apr 162012
 

As is usually the case, the news of some transactions is trickling in. Here’s a recap:

• Xavier Paul was placed on the restricted list yesterday. Further details have not surface, but the suspicion is that it may be related to the leave absence he was granted last month during spring training.

• Andrew Shay of The Patriot News is reporting that Josh Johnson has been promoted to Syracuse (H/T to Carl Goldstein for the heads-up in the comments).

• Marc Tomkins of the Tampa Bay Times has tweeted that the Nationals have sold Matt Buschmann to the Tampa Bay Rays (via MLB Trade Rumors).

• Chris McConnell has been reassigned from Syracuse to Harrisburg

It may certainly be possible that there is a correlation between the Paul and Johnson moves, but the Buschmann transaction appears incidental. As noted in the comments, there are more players in Extended Spring Training than is usual for this time of year and this may be simply in lieu of giving Buschmann his release.

As always, if/when more details come to light in the next 24 hours or so, this space will be updated.

UPDATE: Chris McConnell (above)

Apr 162012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 7-2 vs. Pawtucket,
6:00 p.m.
Roark (0-2, 6.30) vs.
Ohlendorf (1-0, 0.00)
Harrisburg Lost, 9-3 vs. Altoona,
7:00 p.m.
Demny (0-0, 4.15) vs.
Poreda (1-0, 0.00)
Potomac Lost, 13-2 @ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Swynenberg (1-0, 6.43) vs.
TBD
Hagerstown Lost, 7-4 @ Delmarva,
7:05 p.m.
Dupra (0-2, 3.86) vs.
Chalas (1-0, 7.20)

Syracuse 7 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2
• Atkins (W, 1-1) 7IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 4K
• Teahen 4-5, 2R, 2B, RBI, SB
• Rivero 3-5, R, 2B, 2RBI
• Bynum 2-4, 2B, BB, RBI

Four doubles keyed a four-run rally as the Chiefs snapped a three-game losing streak with a 7-2 win over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Mitch Atkins got the win with seven strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks. Mark Teahen led the 13-hit attack with a 4-for-5 afternoon. Bryce Harper doubled and scored two runs while Tyler Moore homered for the fifth time in six games. Syracuse puts on the home whites for the next seven games, with four against Pawtucket and three against Buffalo.
Xavier Paul was placed on the restricted list yesterday, but no further details could be found at virtual press. Last month, Paul was given a leave of absence for “personal reasons.” It should also be noted that with Brett Carroll currently on waivers, it’s entirely possible this is yet another example of roster shenanigans.

Reading 9 Harrisburg 3
• Gilliam (L, 1-2) 5IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 0BB, 6K
• McCoy 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Perez 1-3, 2BB, 2SB
• Johnson 3-3, 2B, BB
• Howell 2-4, RBI

With two in the 1st and four in the 5th, the Reading Phillies built a 6-0 lead en route to a 9-3 win to split the four-game series. Robert Gilliam took the loss in his third start, allowing those six runs on seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Josh Johnson reached base four times to lead the offense, with Eury Perez drawing two walks and stealing two bases. Altoona is next to visit as the Senators host them for the next three games before heading back out on the road to Trenton, New Jersey.

Lynchburg 13 Potomac 2
• Grace (L, 1-1) 4IP, 11H, 7R, 6ER, BB, 3K, HR
• Eusebio ⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Moore 2-3, R, BB
• Taylor 1-3, BB, CS(5)

It was a game to forget on this Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge.
Lakewood 7 Hagerstown 4
• Estevez 5⅓ IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 5K
• Simko (BS, 1; L, 0-1) 2⅔ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 2K, IR-S 3-3
• Newsome 1-2, R, HR, RBI
• Martinson 1-3, R, 3B, BB, RBI
• Ortega 2-4, 2B, SB

For five innings, Wirkin Estevez had a no-hitter. When he left with one out in the 6th, he still had a 3-0 lead — even after surrendering three straight singles before getting a strikeout. But Todd Simko couldn’t stop the bleeding, letting in all three runners and three of his own as the Lakewood BlueClaws put up six runs en route to a 7-4 win, the second straight loss for the Suns. Bryce Ortega led the seven-hit attack with a 2-for-4 afternoon while Brett Newsome clubbed a pinch-hit HR and Jason Martinson tripled and scored the final Hagerstown run. The Suns continue their road trip with a three against Delmarva before returning home to host the BlueClaws for a four-game series starting on Thursday.

Apr 152012
 

Until Wade Moore appeared to pull up lame to end the 8th, the best that could be said was that nobody got hurt.

With runs in seven of the nine innings, Lynchburg dismantled Potomac by a 13-2 count this afternoon. The Atlanta farmhands plowed the P-Nats pitchers for 21 20 hits, 10 of which were for extra-bases.

If the Mets hate Willie Harris, than Evan Gattis can’t be much more loved by Potomac — not after a 5-for-6 game, with a double, a three-homer, and six RBIs. In six games against the P-Nats this year, the 25-year-old catcher is 11-for-22 with two HR and nine RBI.

Truth be told (no, tell us lies) — the team was horrific on defense. That “2” in the “E” column? Could have been three, as one fielder ran past a ground ball without touching it. In fact, after the game ended, just one error had been charged but was later changed from “1” to “2”

Not that it matters in the big scheme of things. Even with stellar fielding, this would have been a blowout. One cannot readily dismiss seven doubles, a triple, and two home runs and play the game of woulda-coulda-shoulda.

The loss drops Potomac to 3-6 for the season and ends the brief homestand 1-2. It’s a quick trip to Frederick for three games before returning on Thursday for a four-game set against Salem.

Apr 152012
 

Sometimes you need to be reminded that this is still just A-ball.

Don’t get me wrong: There are flashes of brilliance, like Kevin Keyes turning on a 95+ mph first-pitch fastball and knocking over the light tower in left field, or Randolph Oduber ripping a double to left with two outs in the 9th.

Then are moments like the top of the 6th. It started innocently enough with a leadoff walk. Then a stolen base, the third of the night without a runner being caught. A tapper back to the mound, it’s now one out. Then a high popup to shallow right field.

Second baseman Adrian Sanchez, first baseman Justin Bloxom and the right fielder (Oduber) all converged, but the ball fell fair. It could have been scored an error, probably should have been. But that’s not the point.

Lynchburg took advantage of the extra out to score their fifth run with a mere sacrifice fly that should have been the third out of the inning.

With a final score of 6-4, that extra run probably didn’t cost the Potomac Nationals the win — 12 strikeouts is a much better culprit — but on another night, it might have.

Lynchburg’s J.R. Graham should also get some credit. Aside from the big boys, the 3-4-5 batters Bloxom, David Freitas and Keyes, who combined to go 4-for-8 with a walk, a home run, two doubles, and a strikeout against him, the 5’11” fireballer handled the rest of the lineup with ease (0-for-12, 5Ks).

Adam Oblrychowski took the loss, pitching 5⅓ innings and giving up five runs on six hits and two walks while striking out four. Paul Applebee followed, giving a solo shot in the top of the 7th for a run over 1⅔ innings while Neil Holland tossed two scoreless to finish the game, retiring all six batters he faced.

The loss denied the P-Nats a chance to even their season record, instead, the Potomac Nine are 3-5 — three games behind the 6-2 Hillcats in the Carolina League’s Northern Division.

Matt Grace (1-0, 1.80) gets the start this afternoon with 21-year-old Aaron Northcraft (1-0, 1.59) taking the hill for Lynchburg.

Apr 152012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-3 @ Scranton/WB,
2:00 p.m.
Atkins (0-1, 0.00) vs.
R. Ortiz (6-3, 4.26 in ’11)
Harrisburg Won, 4-3 vs. Reading,
2:00 p.m.
Gilliam (1-1, 3.75) vs.
Pettibone (0-1, 2.84)
Potomac Lost, 6-4 vs. Lynchburg,
1:05 p.m.
Grace (1-0, 1.80) vs.
Northcraft (1-0, 1.59)
Hagerstown Lost, 14-4 @ Lakewood,
1:05 p.m.
Estevez (1-0, 10.00) vs.
Martinez (1-0, 3.38)

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 6 Syracuse 3
• Duke (L, 1-1) 5IP, 9H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 4K, HR
• Pena 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, K
• Rivero 2-4, R, 2B, RBI
• McConnell 2-4, 2B
• Brown 0-3, 2BB, OF assist at HP

Despite collecting five extra-base hits, the Syracuse Chiefs could only muster three runs to lose their third straight, 6-3 to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Zach Duke allowed runs in four of the five innings he pitched, giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks. Carlos Rivero and Chris McConnell paced the offense, each going 2-for-4 with a double. Bryce Harper doubled and scored in the 8th to go 1-for-4 while playing CF.

Harrisburg 4 Reading 3
• Ballard (ND) 5⅔ IP, 9H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• Lehman (SV, 4) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Lozada 2-4, 2R, 2B
• Kobernus 2-4, 2SB, RBI
• King 1-1, RBI

Stephen King’s pinch-hit RBI in the bottom of the 8th broke a 3-3 tie to help send the Senators to a 4-3 win. It also took the edge off the ‘pen squandering a three-run lead, as manager Matt LeCroy nearly emptied it by using four relievers to get to closer Pat Lehman. The top of the lineup continues to be killer, with Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus combining for three RBI, two singles, and double. Kobernus stole two more bases to bring his E.L.-leading total to seven.

Lynchburg 6 Potomac 4
• Olbrychowski (L, 0-2) 5#8531; IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 4K
• Holland 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Freitas 2-4, 2-2B, 2RBI
• Keyes 1-3, R, HR, BB, RBI

Free swinging and less-than-stellar defense doomed the P-Nats Last Night In Woodbridge.

Lakewood 14 Hagerstown 4
• McKenzie (L, 0-1) 2IP, 6H, 6R, 4ER, 3BB, 1K, 0HR
• Martinson 2-4, 2R, RBI, E(3)
• Ramsey 2-5, 3B, 2RBI
• Skole 1-3, RBI, BB, E(2)

A six-run 3rd and a seven-run 6th by the BlueClaws blocked out the Suns for a 14-4 loss. Hagerstown’s four errors didn’t help the cause as all four Suns pitchers were charged with runs, with starter Chris McKenzie taking the loss. Jason Martinson (2-for-4) and Caleb Ramsey (2-for-5) paced the Hagerstown offense, which scored its four runs on just seven hits and four walks.

Apr 142012
 

With four walks and five runs in the first inning, Potomac took advantage of Lynchburg’s wildness to score five runs and built a 7-0 lead as the P-Nats cruised to an 11-4 win in the home opener.

The worry, of course, is that when a pitcher struggles like Ronan Pacheco did at the start is that a lucky break will enable him to survive. Walks to Michael Taylor, Blake Kelso, and Justin Bloxom loaded the bases with one out for Kevin Keyes. One sharp ground ball could end the threat.

Instead, a 10-foot swinging bunt that Pacheco couldn’t field cleanly, as the catcher had to leave home plate and throw out Keyes for the second out and the first Potomac run. But there were still two out and the big inning could be stopped.

No such luck for Pacheco on this Friday the 13th.

The “Groovin’ Aruban” (Randolph Oduber) followed with a single up the middle to score two more. SS Nick Ahmed got to it but couldn’t knock it down. After another walk to doorstop catcher James Skelton, Adrian Sanchez doubled in Oduber and Skelton to extend the lead to 5-0. Francisco Soriano grounded out to end the inning: nine batters up, four walks, two hits, one left on.

Meanwhile, P-Nats starter Bobby Hansen worked around his miscues in the early going. A one-out double in the first. A hit batsmen and a walk with two out in the second.

Veteran catcher Evan Gattis worked a walk from Hansen in the first but hammered him for a solo shot in the third. Evan Salcedo blasted a double over Michael Taylor’s head. On another night, one that wasn’t in the low-to-mid-50s after sundown, it might have went out. If there’s one troubling aspect to this start, it’s that five of the eight hits he gave up were for extra bases.

Still, after getting knocked from the box after two in his first outing by these Hillcats, Hansen lasted six innings and gave up three runs on the eight hits and three walks and struck out three for his first win of the season. The defense came up big in his final inning with Skelton scampering up the line to swipe a tag on throw from Taylor for the second out of the inning and Soriano ranging deep in the hole to gun down a runner at second to end the inning.

Until the seventh inning, Lynchburg was still outhitting Potomac. The lead was still comfortable, but Kevin Keyes made the outcome all but certain with a three-run shot off the top tier of billboards in right-centerfield. An impressive shot on its own, never mind on a cold night.

Wilson Eusebio pitched the seventh and eighth innings, retiring six batters but walking three. Josh Smoker worked the ninth, but fell victim to his own wildness, uncorking a wild pitch on a strikeout to the leadoff batter then hitting a batter after erasing that mistake with double play ball. Salcedo struck for another double for the fourth and final Hillcat run.

The three-game series continues tonight with Adam Olbrychowski slated to pitch for Potomac against Lynchburg’s J.R. Graham.