Jun 052014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 11-2 vs. Indianapolis,
7:00 p.m.
Jordan (0-2, 4.32) vs.
Wilk (3-5, 4.95)
Harrisburg Won, 5-4 vs. Reading,
7:00 p.m.
Simmons (0-0, 2.79) vs.
Loewen (AA debut)
Potomac Won, 2-1 @ Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Bacus (2-1, 3.13) vs.
Binford (3-3, 2.68)
Hagerstown Won, 5-4 @ Greensboro,
7:00 p.m.
Johansen (4-2, 4.98) vs.
German (5-1, 2.24)
DSL Nationals Won, 11-9 @ DSL Giants,
9:00 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD


Indianapolis 11 Syracuse 2
• Roenicke (L, 1-3) 3⅓ IP, 8H, 7R, 6ER, 3BB, K, HR
• Stange 3⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 3BB, 2K, 2-1 IR-S
• Leon 2-4, 2B, RBI
• Souza 2-4, E
• Hood 2-4, R

Indianapolis put the brakes on the latest Syracuse win streak, pummeling the Nats’ AAA entry for an 11-2 win. Josh Roenicke took the brunt of it, hammered for seven runs on eight hits and three walks. The big blow was a three-run shot in the Indians’ four-run 3rd. Sandy Leon, Steve Souza, and Destin Hood each went 2-for-4 as the Chiefs were held to eight hits and had just three chances with runners in scoring position. Roster move: RHP Christian Garcia placed on the 7-Day DL, retroactive to June 2 (shoulder discomfort per MLB.com’s Bill Ladson).

Harrisburg 5 Reading 4
• Poveda 6IP, 9H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 9K
• Herron (W, 2-2) 1⅓ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Grace (SV, 2) ⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K, 3-0 IR-S
• Ramsey 3-4, R, RBI
• Dykstra 3-4, 2B, RBI
• Keyes 2-4, 2R, 2B, RBI

For the first time this season, the Senators dug themselves out of a four-run hole and scored the five runs of the game for a 5-4 win. Omar Poveda survived a three-run first and gutted out six innings, striking out a season-high of nine. He allowed all four Fightin runs on nine hits. Tyler Herron got the win with a huge assist/save by Matt Grace as the southpaw struck out the first batter he faced and got the second to ground out to leave the bases loaded in the top of the 9th. Cutter Dykstra and Caleb Ramsey both went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead the Harrisburg offense, followed closely by Kevin Keyes, who scored the gamewinner after leading off the 8th with a double, taking 3rd on a flyout, and chugging home on a wild pitch.

Potomac 2 Wilmington 1
• Brach (W, 1-0) 6IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 4K, HBP
• Benincasa (SV, 9) 1⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K, 2-0 IR-S
• Pleffner 3-4, 2R, 2-2B, HR, RBI
• Renda 2-4

Shawn Pleffner wasted no time in showing why (hey now) he’s (an) All-Star, (getting his game on) with a 3-for-4 night with a pair of doubles and a solo HR in a 2-1 Potomac win over Wilmington. Brett Brach spun six solid innings, giving up an unearned run on three hits and no walks while striking out four, and getting his first win. Robert Benincasa got the last four outs, stranding two in the 8th and working around a walk in the 9th for his ninth save. Tony Renda went 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot while Will Piwnica-Worms drove in a run with a sacrifice fly as the P-Nats managed just seven hits total in the pitcher’s duel. Combined with Lynchburg’s third straight loss, Potomac has opened up a 1½ game lead in the C.L. North and has a magic number of 11 with 12 games left in the first half.

Hagerstown 5 Delmarva 4
• Voth (W, 3-3) 7IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, BB, 5K
• Walsh (SV, 6) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Difo 2-4, R, 2B, RBI
• Ballou 2-3, R, BB, RBI
• Bautista 2-4, R, 3SB

The Suns scorched the Shorebirds for five runs in the 5th to overcome a 3-0 deficit and held on for 5-4 win. All five tallies came with two outs as Hagerstown struck for five straight hits, including a two-run homer by John Wooten and doubles by Wilmer Difo, Drew Ward, and Spencer Kieboom. Austin Voth went seven innings and let in three runs (two earned) on seven hits and a walk while striking out five to even his won-loss record at 3-3 (yes, really). Jake Walsh pitched around a walk in the 9th to earn his sixth save. The three-game sweep lowered Hagerstown’s magic number to six as they notched their 40th win in 59 games. The Suns hit the road for tied-for-second-place Greensboro for four games, then Lakewood for three and could return to the Muni next Friday having clinched the first-half title.

DSL Nationals 11 DSL Red Sox 9
• Nunez 3⅔ IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 4K
• Charlis (W, 1-0) 2+ IP, 5H, 4R, 2ER, 0BB, 4K
• Vargas (SV, 1) 2IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, 2K, 1-1 IR-S
• Mota 3-4, 3R, 2B, HR, BB, 4RBI
• A. Martinez 3-5, 2R
• Agustin 1-3, 2R, BB, HR, RBI, SB

The two teams combined for 32 hits and eight errors but the D-Nats struck first and won the slugfest, 11-9 for their third straight victory. Starter Jose Nunez gave up just an unearned run on five hits and two walks over the first three and 2/3rds while striking out four. The win went to Fiyeral Charlis, though he was charged with four runs over two-plus innings. Miguel Vargas was credited with the save, allowing an inherited runner and one of his own over the last two innings. Israel Mota and Telmito Agustin both homered as eight of nine batters hit safely.

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Longtime readers already know this, but for the more recent visitors to this space… I don’t cover the MLB draft because I’m simply too busy keeping track of the teams and the players that are already here than to speculate, worry, or otherwise spend time on the guys who might be here. I can, however, refer you to a couple of folks who have put in that work…

…Ryan Kelley runs down the Top 50 Draft Prospects over at District Sports Page.

…Sean Hogan focuses on possible targets for the Nats, who pick 18th this year.

Jun 042014
 

With the release of the 2014 Carolina League All-Star Team roster, there will be multiple Potomac players for the second straight year.

SS Stephen Perez and 1B Shawn Pleffner are both scheduled to attend the 2014 Carolina-California League All-Star Game in Wilmington on June 17th.

It’s the first All-Star nod for Perez, who’s batting .297/.406/.396 with 14 steals, 26 RBI, and 35 runs scored and has appeared in 53 of the 57 games the P-Nats have played. His .406 OBP mark is 4th best in the Carolina League while his 32 walks is second-best. He’ll be the Carolina League’s starting SS.

Pleffner was a NYPL All-Star in 2012 and was held in purgatory Extended Spring Training until late April. If he had enough PAs to qualify, his .308 batting average would be in the Top 10. In 37 games he’s made just one error, and is arguably the best defensive 1B to play for Potomac over the past several seasons. He’ll be on the Carolina League’s bench.

Last season, three P-Nats were named to the exhibition — Billy Burns, Robbie Ray, Blake Schwartz — breaking up a streak of three straight seasons of just one player — Zach Walters, 2012; Destin Hood, 2011 (replaced by Jeff Kobernus); and Michael Burgess, 2010.

Jun 042014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 5-1 vs. Indianapolis,
7:00 p.m.
Roenicke (1-2, 4.11) vs.
Jackson (2-1, 5.26)
Harrisburg Lost, 5-1 vs. Reading,
7:00 p.m.
Poveda (1-2, 5.82) vs.
Garner (4-3, 3.86)
Potomac Lost, 5-3 @ Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Brach (0-0, 3.60) vs.
Dziedric (5-3, 2.94)
Hagerstown Won, 8-5 vs. Delmarva,
6:35 p.m.
Voth (2-3, 2.49) vs.
Harvey (3-3, 1.68)
DSL Nationals Won, 6-3 @ DSL Red Sox,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD


Syracuse 5 Indianapolis 1
• Hill (W, 8-1) 6IP, 7H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K
• Cedeno (H, 2) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Souza 2-4, R, HR, RBI
• Hood 2-4, R, 3B, RBI, SB
• Goodwin 1-2, 2B, RBI, 2BB, SB

The offense put up a run in the 1st and posted a picket fence in their final three innings, providing more than enough support for Taylor Hill as the 25-y.o. pitched the Syracuse to a 5-1 victory over Indianapolis — their third straight win and 12th in 15 games. Hill turned in yet another quality start (#7), allowing one run on seven hits with no walks and two K’s to notch his league-leading 8th win. Zach Walters and Steve Souza both homered while Destin Hood tripled and Brian Goodwin doubled as the Chiefs made the most out of their seven hits and five walks collected on the night.

Reading 5 Harrisburg 1
• Kroenke (L, 0-1) 5IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Martin 2IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 2K
• Latimore 1-4, R
• Keyes 0-2, BB

Quincy Latimore’s two-out single in the bottom of the 9th broke up Reading’s bid for a combined no-hitter as Harrisburg lost again, 5-1. Zach Kroenke made his third start for the Senators and gave up two runs on four hits and two walks over five innings while fanning two. The longball continues to bedevil the southpaw as both runs came on a homer in the 1st. Reading lost the perfect game in the 7th when Latimore reached on dropped third strike and eventually scored with the help of an error and a second wild pitch. The Fightins only led 2-1 before Neil Holland was lit up for three runs on four hits in the 8th.

Wilmington 5 Potomac 3
• Spann 6IP, 5H, 3R, 2ER, 3BB, 5K
• Mendez (L, 2-3) 2IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K
• Oduber 3-4, RBI
• Norfork 2-3, R, HR, RBI, E, CS

The Blue Rocks broke a 3-3 tie with two in the bottom of the 7th as they beat the P-Nats, 5-3 in the series opener. Matt Spann was dinged for three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks but struck out five. The loss went to Gilberto Mendez, as he gave up the final two Wilmington runs on two hits and no walks while setting down three on strikes while pitching the 7th and 8th innings. Randolph Oduber went 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead the Potomac hit column, followed closely by Khayyan Norfork, who was 2-for-3 and hit a game-tying HR in the 7th. The race for the first-half title in the Carolina League Northern Division has tightened considerably. Lynchburg lost again, which keeps Potomac in 1st place by a ½ game while Wilmington is now just one game behind.

Hagerstown 8 Delmarva 5
• Giolito 3IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• Pivetta (W, 8-2) 4IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 4K, 2HR
• Mesa 3-4, 2R, 2B, 3RBI
• Ward 2-4, R, HR, 2RBI
• Difo 2-5, R, SB

Hagerstown scored in five straight “ups” to defeat Delmarva, 8-5 as Lucas Giolito returned to the mound for the first time in more than three weeks. As such, he was limited to three innings, in which he allowed three hits, no runs, no walks, and struck out five. Nick Pivetta, who was coming off a two-week layoff, got the win, though he was ineffective with four runs allowed on six hits and a walk over four innings. Narciso Mesa went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored while Drew Ward smacked his 5th HR while going 2-for-4 as the Suns pounded out 12 hits total and extended their lead to five games over Delmarva. The Suns’ third straight win has reduced their magic number to clinch the Sally North to eight vs. both Delmarva, who they play tonight for the final time in the first half, and Greensboro, which will host Hagerstown for four games beginning on Thursday.

DSL Nationals 6 DSL Red Sox 3
• Pena 4IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 4K
• Cespedes (W, 1-0) 2⅓ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 4K, 1-0 IR-S
• S. Guerrero 2-4, R, SB
• G. Ramirez 2-4, R
• Vilorio 2-4

The D-Nats put up a four in the 4th and two in the 6th as they doubled up the D-Red Sox, 6-3. Wilber Pena got the start and was touched for two runs on three hits and a walk over four innings. Angher Cespedes was the more effective of the two relievers who followed and was thus awarded the win with one walk allowed over two and a 1/3rd no-hit, no-run innings. He stuck out four of ten batters faced. Sandy Guerrero, Gilberto Ramirez, and Luis Vilorio each went 2-for-4 as the D-Nats notched 10 hits total.

Jun 032014
 

Ripple
As is often the case, the effect of activating someone on the parent club ripples throughout the minors…

WASHINGTON
• Removed 3B Ryan Zimmerman from Potomac roster, activated from 15-Day DL
• Released LHP Niko Spezial*
• Released RHP Andy Santana*
• Released OF Hayden Jennings*
* Per latest BA Transaction post.

SYRACUSE
• 1B-OF Tyler Moore optioned from Washington

HARRISBURG
• LHP Sammy Solis placed on the 7-Day DL

POTOMAC
• UT Mike McQuillan activated from the 7-Day DL

HAGERSTOWN
• OF Narciso Mesa reassigned from Potomac
• RHP Nick Pivetta activated from the 7-Day DL
• RHP Cody Davis activated from the 7-Day DL

AUBURN
• OF Greg Zebrack reassigned from Hagerstown
• RHP Reynaldo Lopez reassigned from Hagerstown
• LHP R.C. Orlan reassigned from Hagerstown

A corresponding move to make room for Moore has not yet been announced; Syracuse is at 25-man limit while Harrisburg is at 24 and could absorb a player reassigned if Washington so chooses.

It’s obviously concerning that Solis, who was hit hard on Memorial Day but did not appear to have diminished velocity, is back on the DL after just three starts total. As perverted as this may sound, we can only hope that it’s just his back (on which he has had surgery and was the reason cited for his previous trip to the DL) and not his left arm that’s bothering him because a bad back can be more readily treated versus a bad shoulder or elbow.

For the folks champing at the bit for promotions, the Nationals will sometimes realign the Low-A and High-A rosters after their All-Star Break (June 16-18) and in between when the Auburn and GCL rosters are set. (Auburn begins play June 13; the GCL on June 21).

As always, if/when further moves related to these become known, this space will be updated.

UPDATE:

Multiple online sources are now reporting that it is indeed elbow soreness that’s sent Sammy Solis to the DL. This, of course, is about as bad as it gets for a pitcher who’s already had one TJ surgery (2012).

Jun 032014
 


For the second straight season, six Hagerstown players have been named to the Northern Division’s entry into the Sally League’s All-Star game on June 17th. But, instead of just two coaches in 2013, manager Patrick Anderson, hitting coach Luis Ordaz, and pitching coach Sam Narron have been asked to join their charges at L.P. Frans Stadium in Hickory, NC.

Without further ado, here’s who’s been named:

  • 2B Wilmer Difo
  • C Spencer Kieboom
  • RHP Nick Pivetta
  • RHP Austin Voth
  • LHP Jake Walsh
  • RHP John Wooten

Also, for the second straight year — all six players appear to be going to an All-Star game for the first time. Manager Patrick Anderson was named to the same position on the 2013 GCL postseason all-star team after guiding the 2013 G-Nats to the GCL Championship.

For highlights on the Hagerstown players, visit the Suns official press release.

Jun 032014
 

Let the drumbeat from the MASN commenters for Tony Renda begin…

With his fourth hit of the night, the 5’8″ (in his helmet and cleats) Potomac second baseman completed a three-run rally in the 9th for a 5-4 win and a four-game sweep of the defending Carolina League champions.

Combined with a walkoff loss by the Lynchburg Hillcats, the P-Nats returned to first place since falling out of a first-place tie on Memorial Day with a 13-4 loss to the Red Sox.

The comeback was heavily aided by Salem, thanks to three critical mistakes. The first came with one out and Shawn Pleffner on first base as Salem’s Reed Gragnani booted a Khayyan Norfork grounder to put runners on 1st and second. The second was a balk that took away the double play.

Still leading 4-2, Salem opted not to walk Will Piwnica-Worms, who had been 0-for-3 up to that point. A single to center made him 1-for-4 with two RBI as both Pleffner and Norfork came in to score.

The third mistake was a grounder to third off the bat of Pedro Severino that Sox third baseman Ryan Dent misfired to second for the second error and second missed chance at a double play. Renda then delivered the gamewinner to plate Piwinica-Worms for the 5-4 win.

The 4-for-4 effort, which also included a double and a single and a two-base-error ruled as a triple, extended Renda’s current hit streak to six games, over which he’s gone 12-for-30 with seven runs, five walks drawn, and five RBI.

The win went to Travis Henke, who got the last two outs of the 7th and blanked Salem in 8th and 9th innings with one hit allowed and three strikeouts. John Simms made the start, giving up the first two Salem runs on seven hits, including a solo shot in the 5th, over four and 2/3rd innings.

Bryan Harper followed Simms, striking out the last batter of the 5th to strand two runner. He worked around a single and a walk in the 6th, but couldn’t do likewise in the 7th, literally throwing away a sacrifice attempt that led to the second two Salem runs (both unearned).

Potomac now hits the road for three against the third-place (but still in contention, two games behind) Wilmington Blue Rocks then the two teams switch venues for another three-game series this weekend. Like last season, the two teams play just six games in the first half but 14 times in the second.

Jun 032014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 4-2 vs. Indianapolis,
7:00 p.m.
Hill (7-1, 1.57) vs.
Brigham (2-3, 3.20)
Harrisburg OFF DAY vs. Reading,
7:00 p.m.
Kroenke (0-0, 5.40) vs.
Milner (3-2, 3.88)
Potomac Won, 5-4 @ Wilmington,
7:05 p.m.
Spann (4-0, 1.85) vs.
Almonte (3-2, 4.72
Hagerstown Won, 4-2 vs. Delmarva,
6:35 p.m.
Giolito (2-0, 2.51) vs.
Rennie (2-4, 5.11)
DSL Nationals Won, 7-3 vs. DSL Red Sox,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD


Syracuse 4 Buffalo 2
• Laffey (W, 6-3) 5⅓ IP, 6H, 2R, ER, 6BB, 2K
• Mattheus 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Souza 1-2, R, 2BB, HR, RBI
• Solano 1-3, R, BB, HR, RBI
• Goodwin 1-3, R, HR, 2RBI

Syracuse went deep three times for all four runs as they beat Buffalo, 4-2 and reclaimed first place in the I.L. North. Aaron Laffey danced with the devil in the pale moonlight danger by walking six and giving up six hits over five and a 1/3rd innings but let in just two while notching his sixth win. Three relievers combined for three and 2/3rds scoreless relief with Zach Jackson and Ryan Mattheus earning hold and Mike Gonzalez going 1-2-3 in the 9th for his 5th save. Steve Souza reached base three times with two walks and a home run while Brian Goodwin’s two-run shot in the 5th gave the Chiefs a 3-2 lead. Jhonatan Solano provided the insurance run with his 8th big fly.

Harrisburg — OFF DAY
The Senators return home for a pair of three-game series against the Fightins and the RubberDucks again over the weekend.

Potomac 5 Salem 4
• Simms 4⅔ IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 7K, HR
• Henke (W, 3-0) 2⅔ IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Renda 4-4, R, 2B, 3B, BB, RBI
• Pleffner 1-3, R, BB, RBI

The P-Nats reclaimed 1st place with their fifth straight win Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 4 Delmarva 2
• Silvestre (W, 2-2) 7IP, 7H, R, ER, 0BB, 3K, HR
• Walsh (SV, 5) 2IP, 4H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 0K
• Middleton 3-3, 2R, 2B, BB, SB
• Bautista 2-4, R, 3B, RBI

After a 2-6 roadtrip, which included losing three-of-four to the Shorebirds, the Suns got a 4-2 decision over Delmarva to cut their magic number to 10 with less than two weeks to go in the first half. Hagerstown rallied for three with two out in the 2nd to get on the board first, taking advantage of the first of four Shorebird errors. Hector Silvestre, who had suffered last-inning lapses in his previous two outings, turned in seven strong innings with just one run (a home run) on seven hits, with no walks and three K’s. Jake Walsh worked around four hits in the final two frames, giving up an unearned run while recording his 5th save.

DSL Nationals 7 DSL Rojos 3
• Silfa 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Ramirez (W, 1-0) 2⅔ IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 6K
• Rengel 2-3, 2R, 2B, BB, 2RBI, 2SB
• Agustin 2-4, R, BB
• Pimental 2-5, R, RBI

The D-Nats broke it open with a five-run 3rd and cruised to a 7-3 win to even up their record at 1-1. Luis Rengel was one-man wrecking crew, going 2-for-3 with a double, two runs scored, and two stolen bases to lead the D-Nat attack. Nector Ramirez got the win in his debut, striking out six over two and 2/3rds innings while giving up a hit, a walk, and an unearned run. The two teams, however, combined for 12 errors — eight by the Rojos, four by the Nats.

Jun 022014
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 8-5 @ Buffalo,
7:05 p.m.
Laffey (5-3, 3.93) vs.
Drabek (4-4, 4.19)
Harrisburg Lost, 6-3 OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Won, 12-11 vs. Salem,
7:05 p.m.
Simms (0-3, 4.50) vs.
Light (1-2, 5.06)
Hagerstown Lost, 5-1;
Won, 11-5
vs. Delmarva,
6:35 p.m.
Silvestre (1-2, 3.63) vs.
Vader (7-1, 3.09)
DSL Nationals OFF DAY vs. DSL Rojos,
10:30 a.m.
TBD vs. TBD


Syracuse 8 Buffalo 5
• Tatusko 5IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 5BB, 2K, HR
• Stange 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Souza 2-3, 2R, 2B, 2BB, RBI
• Laird 2-4, R, 2RBI
• Leon 2-4, 2B, BB, 2RBI

Brandon Laird’s two-run single capped off a four-run rally in the 9th as the Chiefs roared back from a 5-1 deficit to win, 8-5. Syracuse scored the last seven runs of the game as the offense pounded out 12 hits, with five batters notching multiple hits. Ryan Tatusko struggled with his control (90P-45K), walking five and giving up a three-run homer as the Bison got to him for all five runs in the 3rd. The 29-y.o. veteran went five innings and allowed four hits total. The bullpen combined for four shutout innings to enable the comeback. Manny Delcarmen got the win for holding Buffalo scoreless in the 8th, while Warner Madrigal struck out two in the 9th to earn his first career AAA save.

Akron 6 Harrisburg 3
• Espino (L, 1-3) 4IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, 3BB, 4K
• Grace (W, 2-1) 2⅓ IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 3K, 2-1 IR-S
• Taylor 2-3, R, HR, BB, RBI
• Canham 2-4, R

If only Michael Taylor could pitch… The Senators weren’t so fortunate with their second spot starter — still no official explanation — as the RubberDucks took the series finale, 6-3. Filling in for A.J. Cole, who sources have told me is actually experiencing some soreness, Paolo Espino was touched for three runs on three hits and three walks over four innings to take his third loss. Taylor extended his current hit streak to 12 games with a single and his E.L.-leading 15th HR and took a walk to lead the Senators offense, which was held to eight hits total.

Potomac 12 Salem 11
• Dickson 4⅓ IP, 7H, 7R, 7ER, 4BB, 5K, 2WP
• Suero (W, 1-1) 3⅓ IP, 3H, R, ER, 0BB, 2K
• Renda 3-5, 2R, 3B, 3RBI
• Leonida 1-2, 2R, HR, RBI, 3BB
• J. Miller 2-5, R, HR, 2RBI

The P-Nats won a slugfest Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge.

Kannapolis 5 Hagerstown 1 — GAME ONE
• Lopez (L, 0-1) 3IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 2K
• Orlan 3IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 4K, HR
• Ballou 1-3, R, OF assist at 2B
• Kieboom 2-3, 2-2B, RBI

Hagerstown dropped its third straight, and sixth of seven games, with 5-1 loss to Kannapolis in the opener. The Intimidators struck for three in the 1st against Reynaldo Lopez in his second start of the season. Lopez would go two more scoreless before giving way to R.C. Orlan, who was run into the wall for two runs in the 6th. The bats were held to just five hits total, with Spencer Kieboom’s second double of the game plating the sole Sun run to break up the shutout bid.

Hagerstown 11 Kannapolis 5 — GAME TWO
• Cooper 4IP, 9H, 5R, 5ER, 0BB, K, HR, WP
• Webb (W, 1-0) 3IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 4K
• Ballou 2-4, 2R, 2RBI
• Difo 3-4, 2R, RBI, SB
• Wooten 2-4, R, 3B, 3RBI

The Suns broke out for eight runs in the 4th to finally take one from Kannapolis, 11-5 and prevent another doubleheader sweep. The top third of lineup combined to go 7-for-12 with five runs scored and six RBI while Drew Ward homered for the fourth time. Andrew Cooper was unable to go the requisite five innings, giving up all five Intimidator runs on nine hits, including a HR. Joseph Webb got the win with three scoreless innings, allowing a hit and two walks while striking out four.

DSL Nationals — OFF DAY
After the usual Sunday off, the DSL schedule begins its six mornings a week grind with four home games against the Rojos, Red Sox, Giants and Rockies, hitting the road for Wednesday and Thursday to visit the Boston and Colorado affiliates.

Jun 012014
 

Perhaps it’s fitting that the only pitcher that was any good this afternoon got the win as Potomac outlasted Salem, 12-11 for their fourth straight win.

In a game where the two teams combined for 23 runs and 31 hits, only Wander Suero was anywhere close to effective as a pitcher with one run allowed on three hits over three and 2/3rds innings of relief. Sporting a 10.05/5.97/1.81 pitcher’s line in six previous appearances, you could say Suero’s performance was rather unexpected.

The two starting pitchers were both chased in the 5th, giving up 12 runs and 14 hits combined (surprisingly, no home runs) while walking seven. Potomac’s Ian Dickson opened the game with a four-pitch walk and was in a 2-0 hole within two batters after Salem’s Ryan Dent singled and UVA product Reid Gragnani tripled.

He would retire the next seven batters in a row, giving hope that perhaps it was just the proverbial “one bad inning.”

Nope.

Dent, who went 5-for-6 on the afternoon, struck again for a double then Dickson loaded the bases with a walk and hit batsmen, then gave up another three-run extra-base hit, this time to journeyman backstop Carson Blair, who doubled to center to clear the bases and turn what had been a 5-3 lead for Potomac into 6-5 deficit.

On the other side of the scorebook, Salem’s Luis Diaz wasn’t much better. Staked to a 3-0 lead before he took the mound, he gave up one run in the first and four in the second, including a three-run triple to Tony Renda. Though he would come just one out of possibly qualifying for a win — Salem was leading 7-5 when he was lifted — it would become academic when the Salem firemen brought gasoline instead of water to put out the fire.

Potomac put the game away with three straight crooked numbers in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings, highlighted by homers by Cole Leonida and Justin Miller in the 7th to take the lead for good at 10-8.

A pair of unearned runs in the 8th, which extended the P-Nat lead proved to be critical as Derek Self became the latest victim of the GBI curse, dinged for three runs on five hits in the 9th over an inning and a third total. Because Potomac was only leading 10-8 when he arrived with two outs in the top of the 8th, he still qualified for the save, his third of the season.

The two teams wrap up the four-game series tomorrow night. Potomac shoots for the sweep with RHP John Simms (0-3, 4.50) on the hill, while Salem looks to stop its five-game slide and return to .500 with RHP Pat Light (1-2, 5.06) getting the ball.

PENNANT RACE UPDATE:
Lynchburg, which leads the Carolina League North, also won to remain a ½-game ahead of Potomac and 2½ ahead of Wilmington, who will host Potomac on Tuesday through Thursday, then come to the Pfitz for three more this coming weekend. The Hillcats will not face another Northern divisional opponent the rest of the first half but will play six against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who lead the Southern Division by 10½ games over Salem.

Jun 012014
 

A seven-run 7th which featured five hits, three Salem errors, and multiple Red Sox misplays turned a 1-1 game into an 8-1 goat rodeo as the Potomac Nationals won their third straight and pulled within a 1/2 game of first place in the Carolina League North.

Ryan Zimmerman continued his rehab assignment and appeared in left field for the first time in his professional career. And it showed. Just one ball was hit his way in the five innings he played — a routine line drive to the left-center gap that was not hit particularly hard.

However, the “face of the franchise” broke the opposite way, turning a single into a double as the ball rolled past him towards the warning track. A strong throw — and that it was the leadoff batter in the inning — minimized the misplay, but it’s pretty clear that the specious Robin Yount comparisons ought to stop immediately.

Offensively, Zimmerman went 1-for-3 with a strikeout.

Dakota Bacus got the start and continues to show an ineffable knack for getting himself in and out of trouble. Four times in six innings, the leadoff batter reached — twice by way of double (*ahem*) — but only once did he score.

That was when Stephen Perez did his best imitation of Ian Desmond, ranging behind second base to make the scoop, only to boot it on the transfer for his 15th error in 49 games. To be clear, most other shortstops wouldn’t have gotten to it. Fewer still would have been on their feet and in a position to make a throw. Perez was rated the best defensive IF in the organization by Baseball America, and as much as I rag on BA, they’re not wrong on this one.

Back to Bacus… the 23-y.o. finished with the one unearned run on five hits and two walks while striking out four over five and 2/3rds innings but got the no-decision. After the Perez error, Gilberto Mendez came in and induced a tapper to the 5/6 hole that Khayyan Norfork glided to his left and made the toss across to end the inning.

Norfork, who drove in the first run with a single in the 4th, led off the seven-run 7th with a sharp single to left. Will Piwnica-Worms followed suit with a safety to center. Pedro Severino then laid down what appeared to be a bunt single but was ruled interference for the inning’s first out.

After a Tony Renda walk, Perez got that run back he let in with his error and another with his bat with a two-run single and took second on the first error for a 3-1 lead. Estarlin Martinez, who replaced Zimmerman in the lineup, hit a high fly to shallow right that was dropped and scored Renda for a 4-1 score.

A popup to short was the inning’s second out. Then Shawn Pleffner ripped an opposite-field double to send in Perez, 5-1. A grounder to third by Randolph Oduber was thrown around the diamond like someone gave the Salem defenders the water bottle from the freezer instead of the fridge — two more runs, and perhaps mercifully, just one error as Oduber stood on third when it was over, 7-1.

Salem changed pitchers and the rally was completed when a dropped third strike enabled Norfork to reach first base while Oduber charged home with the seventh run as the Salem backstop elected to go for the force instead of tossing to the pitcher for the less-certain tag play.

Mercifully, both teams played out the string without much drama. Mendez pitched the 8th and worked around a leadoff single to earn the win, his second of the season, while Travis Henke worked the 9th and gave up just a two-out single to end it.

Game three of the four-game series is this afternoon and features a matchup of RHPs — Ian Dickson (1-4, 6.55) vs. Luis Diaz (5-3, 3.42).