It’s too late for Potomac to think about a run at the Carolina League North Division title. But after a 3-1 win on Friday following an 8-3 win on Thursday, the last-place P-Nats can serve notice to the first-place Blue Rocks that things might be different in the second half.
Of course, that’s easy to write when Potomac had things go right on both sides of the ball.
Phillips “Exxon” Valdez made his High-A debut and tossed six innings of one-run ball. He hit two Blue Rocks on the
puss elbow pad in the first inning, with both players making little-to-no effort (think Don Baylor) to get out of the way of the pitch, as the rules require, but got out of the bases-loaded jam.
Then in the 3rd he gave up a leadoff triple that came in on a sacrifice fly, for the one run he let in. Otherwise, he dominated the weak Wilmington offense — just three hits allowed, one walk, and three strikeouts.
Alas, his counterpart Erik Skoglund was just as good. The slim (could hide behind a telephone pole) southpaw retired six straight to start the game before Khayyan Norfork doubled to lead off the 3rd, Estarlin Martinez singled to push him over, and Narciso Mesa flew out to CF for the sac fly that tied the game at 1-1.
The P-Nats got leadoff singles in the 4th and 5th, but Skoglund dialed up 6-4-3 DPs both times to erase the threat. He also worked around a pair of two-out singles in the 6th before Norfork made the last out of the 7th trying for a second double.
Perhaps the minors are primarily for development, but the decision to send out Skoglund for an 8th inning without a reliever at the ready is hard to explain, much less defend. As lineups often do, a fourth look was what it took to beat him.
In what seemed like a rerun of Norfork’s previous at-bat, Martinez singled to left to lead off the 8th and then turned it into a double on a play that might not have stood up on instant replay. Mesa sacrificed him to third and Christopher Bostick plated him with double to center for a 2-1 lead.
Stephen Perez got the insurance run with a single to center and Skoglund escaped further damage with a popup by Isaac Ballou, an intentional walk to Spencer Kieboom, and an “oops” check-swing tapper by Drew Ward.
Derek Self, who worked around a third hit batsman in the 7th, retired six straight before giving up a leadoff single to begin the 9th. Tripp Keister had Nick Lee ready and called him in shut the door. After a strikeout and a flyout, Wilmington got a second safety to put runners at first and third, but couldn’t get a third hit as Lee whiffed the No. 9 batter to wrap it up.
The win went to Self (his first for Potomac this season) while the save went to Lee, his fifth.
Another first-place team comes to town as Myrtle Beach makes its first trip to the Pfitz. Reynaldo Lopez (2-1, 2.75), who suffered his first loss to the Pelicans last Friday, gets a rematch tonight against fellow righthander Paul Blackburn (3-2, 4.64).