Jul 312010
 

The Potomac bats remained hot, but the pitching was erratic, resulting in a split against the Frederick Keys.

In Game One, Marcos Frias took the hill against a team that he had thrown a quality start against earlier in the month, when Potomac swept the Keys on the road. For three innings, it looked like he might just duplicate that feat, though the signs that this might be short outing were evident: three of the first four Frederick hits were of the extra-base variety, enabling the Keys to get single runs in the 1st and 2nd.

In the fourth, Frias set down the first two batters fairly quickly but then struggled to get the Nos. 8 and 9 batters out, walking them both. This paved the way for the top of the order to make him pay. Xavier Avery* doubled to right, Kyle Hudson singled to left, and Ronnie Welty, who had doubled in his previous two at-bats, completed the scoring binge with a two-run shot to turn a 2-1 lead into a 7-1 chasm.

* If there’s a contest to rank great baseball names, how could MiLB look past this one?

Potomac, however, would not roll over in its half of the 4th. Derek Norris his just his second HR at the Pfitz to lead things off. Following singles by Bill Rhinehart and Jose Lozada, Chris Curran and Francisco Soriano hit back-to-back triples with two outs to rally the P-Nats to within two at 7-5.

Steve Lombardozzi’s third single of the game with two outs drove in Lozada in the sixth cut the lead to one at 7-6. Billy “But He’s Still Young” Rowell connected for a solo HR in the top of the 7th — his 25th for Frederick in 316 games since 2008 — to give the Keys an 8-6 lead.

That run would prove crucial as Potomac rallied one more time in the 7th, as a Moore single, a wild pitch, and a Rhinehart single whittled the lead to 8-7, but that’s as close as the P-Nats would get.

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After an announcement of a 20-minute break between games, the nightcap started 39 minutes later with Adrian Alaniz on the mound and he was not sharp. Consistently falling behind hitters, the 26-year-old battled through 4⅓ innings and somehow managed to allow just two runs on six hits and one walk before giving way to Jimmy Barthmaier.

Meanwhile, the Potomac bats, which had peppered the field in the first game with 14 hits, a-salted the Frederick pitchers for 11 hits in the second game. They scored in every inning but the first, highlighted by a pair of two-run blasts by Bill Rhinehart in the third and sixth innings. Jose Lozada led the hit parade with three hits, and had five hits combined in the doubleheader, as did Steve Lombardozzi.

With the split, Potomac gained a half game on first-place Wilmington and remains a game-and-a-half ahead of third-place Frederick, the first-half winner. Recently promoted Danny Rosenbaum makes his second home start for Potomac, with Ryan O’Shea taking the hill for Frederick.

Jul 172010
 

Folks who showed up an inning late, missed a whole lot of action. So did the folks who went home early, as the Potomac Nationals somehow prevailed 8-7 despite spotting the Kinston Indians three runs early and two runs late.

Rehab starts are overrated. It’s not just a snarky tag, it’s a cold, hard truth about minor-league baseball. Tyler Walker was the latest to victimize the fans at Woodbridge put teeth into this saw, walking four and striking out two while facing just seven batters in the top of the first inning. He was charged with three runs, as reliever Patrick McCoy walked one and struck out one in his brief, and undoubtedly unexpected appearance.

To their credit, the P-Nats showed their mettle by immediately loading the bases on a Josh Johnson single, a double by Steve Lombardozzi and a walk by Derek Norris. T.J. McFarland, a Carolina League All-Star, got taken to the woodshed by Tyler Moore, courtesy of a grand slam to left-center to give Potomac a 4-3 lead.

Marcos Frias, the announced starter online, came on to start the second and sporting a much-improved changeup, blanked the Kinston nine for the next three innings. McFarland reverted to form and matched Frias’s goose eggs.

The Indians would lead off the fifth with back-to-back singles, then went small-ball with a sacrifice bunt and a high chopper to first to tie the game at 4-4. Norris and Moore would go back-to-back with doubles to reclaim the lead at 5-4.

Kinston chased Frias in the sixth with two more runs, but the 21-year-old nearly escaped the jam. A single, walk, and a sacrifice-turned-single loaded the bases with nobody out. Frias only struck out three in his 4⅔ innings, but two of them came in this inning when he needed them most. A pitch-to-contact pitcher, Frias couldn’t get the grounder he needed from Kyle Bellows who singled to put the Indians ahead, 6-5.

“Dolla” Bill Rhinehart tied the game with a leadoff home run to right-center in the bottom of the sixth which is where it would stay until two outs in the ninth… when lightning was spotted and play was halted for 36 minutes.

The folks who remained were then treated to an improbable tenth inning. The Indians took the lead at 7-6 on a walk, sacrifice, and a single and nearly went up by two, but for Robby Jacobsen gunning down a runner for the third out.

With one out, the PNats got runners on first and second via a hit batsmen and a walk, and then the weirdness set in. Rhinehart grounded to first for what would have ordinarily been a 3-6-1 double play, except Kinston first baseman Nate Recknagle struck the runner at first base, Jacobsen, and the ball rolled into left field, allowing the lead runner to tie the game at 7-7.

Kinston’s throw from left was cut off and Rhinehart was caught in a rundown, the putout going 7-6-3-1. Jacobsen, who had taken third after the ball hit him, took home just as Rhinehart was tagged out, leaving the Indians on the short end of an 8-7 score.

With the win, Potomac goes two games over .500 for the first time the season at 11-9, three games behind Wilmington. Brad Peacock (3-9, 4.09) makes his first start since his complete-game shutout on July 5th (his turn had been missed at the Fenway Futures game rainout) as the Nationals look to take the series. Joey Mahalic (3-4, 4.15) takes the ball for Kinston.