Jun 102013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 5-3 vs. Pawtucket,
7:00 p.m.
Mandel (1-2, 6.08) vs.
Aceves (2-1, 3.52)
Harrisburg Won, 8-2 @ Reading,
9:35 a.m.
Treinen (5-5, 3.97) vs.
Wright (0-3, 11.51)
Potomac Lost, 7-6 @ Carolina,
7:15 p.m.
Schwartz (5-1, 1.29) vs.
Pasquale (0-3, 4.62)
Hagerstown Won, 4-1 vs. Hickory,
7:05 p.m.
Purke (0-0, 2.08) vs.
Lopez (1-0, 0.00)
DSL Nationals OFF DAY vs. DSL Yankees1,
10:30 a.m.
Yrizarri (0-0, 0.00) vs.
F. Jose (0-0, 9.00)



Pawtucket 5 Syracuse 3
• Torra (L, 0-3) 5⅔ IP, 11H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 2K, 2HR
• Accardo 2IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K
• Brown 2-4, RBI, SB
• Owings 2-4, R, HR, RBI

Pawtucket went deep twice against Syracuse starter Matt Torra in the first two innings to put the Chiefs in a 4-0 hole as the PawSox cruised to a 5-3 win. Torra was peppered with 11 hits total over five and 2/3rds, walking two and striking out two while losing for the third time in three starts. Veterans Corey Brown and Micah Owings both went 2-for-4 with and RBI, with Brown swiping his 6th base and Owings smacking his 6th home run. Roster moves: 1B Chris Marrero recalled to Washington; OF-1B Tyler Moore optioned to Syracuse.

Harrisburg 8 Reading 2
• Gilliam (W, 2-1) 5IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 5K
• Grace 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Souza 3-5, 3R, SB
• Head 4-5, 4R, 2B, 2HR, 4RBI

Rob Gilliam was perfect for five innings while Jared Head was a triple shy of cycle as Harrisburg pounded Reading, 8-2. Manager Matt LeCroy claimed an organizational directive of five innings or eighty pitches (whichever came first) is why the 25-year-old was lifted after just 57 pitches. By then, the offense had built a 7-0 lead, thanks to a pair of two-run HRs by Head. Steve Souza Jr. singled three times to lead the hit column as Harrisburg notched 14 hits total. Four relievers each turned in an inning to finish the game.

Frederick 7 Potomac 6
• Hill 6IP, 3H, 0R, 2BB, 5K
• Bates (BS, 2; L, 2-4) 1IP, 4H, 6R, 0ER, 0BB, K, HR
• Burns 2-5, SB(30)
• Nieto 2-4, 2R, 2-2B, PB(12)
• Miller 2-4, R, 3B, 3RBI

Potomac’s luck finally ran out on a Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 4 West Virginia 1
• Pineyro (W, 5-3) 6IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, 4K, HR
• Henke (SV, 2) 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Harper 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Manuel 1-3, R, BB
• Difo 1-2, BB, RBI, SB

If you missed the 6th, you missed all the scoring as Hagerstown put up four in the top half and West Virginia answered with one in the bottom half for the game’s final outcome of 4-1. Ivan Pineyro tied fellow Dominican for the team lead in wins (5) with six strong innings, allowing the Power run on a two-out solo shot, the third and final hit he gave up while walking one and fanning four. Two errors, two walks, two doubles, and two sacrifice flies accounted for the Suns runs as Hagerstown sent 10 men to the plate in the inning.
It’s a battle for the first half title as first-place Hickory comes to the Muni for four games in three days this week, with just a ½ game separating the top two teams (and the Power lurking in third place, 1½ games behind second-place Hagerstown).

DSL Nationals — OFF DAY
The D-Nats won five of six in the first full week of the 2013 season, losing to the DSL Yankees1 squad on Saturday. This week, it’s home games against the Yankees1, the Cubs, y Los Rojos (nee the DSL Reds), and road games against the Cubs, Rojos, and the Orioles2.

Sep 052012
 

With a pair of two-run rallies in the 8th and 9th innings, the Auburn Doubledays defeated the Williamsport Crosscutters, 9-7 to clinch the Pinckney Division title for the second straight year. They will the No. 3 seed in the New York-Penn League playoffs, awaiting their travel plans to their first-round opponent pending the results of tonight’s games in Batavia and Brooklyn.

Auburn had leads of 2-0 and 5-3 before the bullpen coughed up four runs in the bottom of the 7th to put the Doubledays in a 7-5 deficit. Brandon Miller led off the 8th with a double and Craig Manuel drew a walk to put the tying runs. After pinch-hitting and pinch-running change, the former (Carlos Alvarez) tapping out to third to move up Miller and the latter, Narciso Mesa. Spencer Kieboom delivered the clutch hit with a two-run single to tie it at 7-7.

Tony Renda and Estarlin Martinez both singled to center to set up the go-ahead and insurance runs in the 9th, with a pair of infield singles scoring Renda and pushing Martinez to third. Mesa, who scored the tying run, sent in the final run with a sacrifice fly.

Travis Henke, who had let in two inherited runners in the four-run 7th, finished the game for the dreaded blown-save-win. He was charged with one run of his own on two hits and a walk and struck out two. Blake Monar, who had come off the DL to make start (LHP Jack McGeary was placed back on the DL), was lifted in 4th after suffering an unspecified injury. The Hoosier southpaw gave up three runs on four hits and two walks and struck out three.

Renda and Martinez led the 12-hit attack by going 3-for-5, with Renda scoring three runs and Martinez driving in two.

Auburn finishes out the regular season with another game in Williamsport. Batavia was rained out and will play a doubleheader against Jamestown. The Muckdogs, who trail the Doubledays by 1½ games, must win both games while Brooklyn, which lost to Lowell last night, lose again as the Cyclones hold the tiebreaker in the event of a tie.

Auburn hosts the loser of tonight’s contest between Tri-City and Hudson Valley (the winner will play the wild card) in Game One, then hits the road for Games Two and Three (if necessary).

Aug 312012
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 2-0 @ Lehigh Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Mandel (5-5, 2.70) vs.
Brummett (4-5, 3.18)
Harrisburg Lost, 5-4 vs. Bowie,
7:00 p.m.
Pucetas (7-5, 3.35) vs.
Pettit (10-3, 3.93)
Potomac Lost, 3-1 @ Carolina,
7:15 p.m.
Swynenberg (6-5, 5.19) vs.
Suarez (0-0, 2.45)
Hagerstown Lost, 12-2 vs. Asheville,
7:05 p.m.
Schwartz (1-1, 3.34) vs.
Jensen (12-3, 4.34)
Auburn Lost, 8-6 @ Mahoning Valley,
7:05 p.m.
Fischer (3-3, 4.40) vs.
Morel (2-5, 4.85)

Syracuse 2 Charlotte 0
• Lannan 9IP, 8H, 0R, 0BB, 10K
• Hoffpauir 2-3, 2B, RBI
• Carroll 2-4, R, 2B

The reigning I.L. pitcher of the week is making a bid for a repeat honors, as John Lannan tossed an eight-hit shutout for a 2-0 Syracuse win, its third straight. The 27-y.o. southpaw gave up eight singles but no walks and struck out a season-high 10 batters in his final start for the Chiefs. Next stop: Washington. Jarrett Hoffpauir went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI to lead the Syracuse offense, despite getting ejected in the bottom of the 5th.

Richmond 5 Harrisburg 4
• Broderick (ND) 6IP, 6H, 3R, 2ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Frias 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Nelo (BS, 4; L, 1-6) ⅓IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 0K, HR
• Solano 2-4, R
• Bynum 1-3, R, 2B, BB, RBI

Make that 25 one-run losses as the Senators coughed up a walkoff loss in Richmond, 5-4. Hector Nelo blew his fourth save and took his sixth loss, giving up a leadoff homer in the 9th to achieve the former, then three singles and a walk with one out to earn the latter. The implosion handed a no-decision to Brian Broderick, who pitched six frames, gave up six hits and allowed three runs, no walks, and struck out two.

Carolina 3 Potomac 1
• Gilliam (L, 1-2) 7IP, 7H, 3R, 2ER, BB, 3K, HR
• McCatty 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Souza 2-2, R, BB, SB
• Fernandez 1-3
• Hague 1-4, 2B

After making the playoffs in three of the last four seasons (2008, 2010, 2011), the Potomac Nationals will be going home after Labor Day, thanks to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Mudcats. Starter Rob Gilliam turned in quality start of three runs allowed over seven innings on seven hits and a walk. The offense, however, was held to just four hits and put just three runners into scoring position; the lone run coming in the 2nd on a Steve Souza Jr. leadoff single, a steal of second with an error on the throwout attempt to take 3rd, and a wild pitch to send P-Nat outfielder home.

Greensboro 12 Hagerstown 2
• Rauh (L, 3-3) 2IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 0K
• Bates 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Burns 3-4, R, SB
• Ramsey 2-3, 2B

With seven runs in the first four innings, first-half champs Greensboro made a 12-2 statement to Hagerstown, should the Suns survive the weekend. The Grasshoppers jumped all over starter Brian Rauh for five runs on seven hits and three walks over the first two innings to hand the 21-y.o. his third loss at Low-A. The bullpen fared no better as only Colin Bates emerged unscathed from the 12-run, 18-hit onslaught. Billy Burns (3-for-4) led the Suns offense with three singles and a stolen base. The loss, combined with a wins by Hickory and West Virginia, holds the magic number steady at four with four games to play. Hagerstown finishes up the regular season with a four-game set against playoff-bound Asheville starting tonight at Municipal Stadium.

Mahoning Valley 8 Auburn 6
• Pineyro 3⅔ IP, 6H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 3K, HR
• Harper (H, 3; L, 0-1) 1⅓ IP, 3H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 2K
• Medina (BS, 1) ⅔ IP 1H, R, ER, BB, 2K, 2-2 IR-S
• Martinez 3-5, R, 2B
• Schill 2-5, R
• Ramos 1-3, 2BB, 2RBI

That uneasy feeling isn’t that convenience-store hot dog you ate last night, it’s the realization by now that with Auburn’s 8-6 loss to Mahoning Valley, the Nationals farm just might get shut out of the postseason. The Scrappers rallied for four runs in the bottom of the 8th against relievers Bryan Harper (loss) and Silvio Medina (blown save). Starter Ivan Pineyro was touched for four runs on six hits, including a three-run home run in the 4th that erased an early 4-1 Doubledays lead. Estarlin Martinez led the 10-hit Auburn offense with a double and two singles and a run scored. Like the Suns, the Doubledays magic number remained unchanged at six, with the second-place Muckdogs winning for the sixth straight game. NYPL wild-card leader Brooklyn lost to stay tied with Auburn at 42-28. Roster moves: LHP Blake Monar placed on the 7-day DL, retroactive to Au. 28; RHP Ronald Pena has been recalled from the GCL Nationals.

Aug 242012
 

With six strong innings from top pitching prospect Alex Meyer, the Potomac Nationals took their third straight win with a 7-5 decision over the Carolina Mudcats, setting up a weekend showdown with the first-place Frederick Keys.

Potomac scored in each of the first four innings, highlighted by Steven Souza Jr.’s fourth home run, a light-tower shot that comfortably cleared the 400-foot marker over the centerfield wall with two outs in the top of the first. It was 23-year-old’s 21st roundtripper between Low-A and High-A. He would total two walks and two stolen bases and kept his cool when Carolina starting pitcher Michael Goodnight, who did not have one, plunked him in his third plate appearance.

Meyer turned in a quality start for the sixth time in seven starts, rebounding from a six-run shellacking last Friday night in Salem. The lone Mudcat run came in the third as Todd Hankins doubled to center, then was sent in on a sacrifice hit and a sacrifice fly.

With Nathan Karns likely on the shelf for the rest of the season, the towering 22-y.o. has become the staff ace. Like Karns, he has shown that he doesn’t necessarily need to blow guys away to be effective, as his first strikeout did not come until the 18th batter he faced with one out in the 5th — though he would need it and another whiff to escape a bases-loaded jam in the 5th, then stranded two more in the 6th with his third and final K.

Potomac scored its seventh run in the 7th after a Blake Kelso single, the second Souza walk, and a Ricky Hague single to left that was hit so sharply that the fleet-footed Kelso could only advance one base. Jason Martinson fell behind quickly on a pair of curves, but didn’t bite on the 0-2 fastball on the outside corner. Instead of offering something in the dirt, Carolina southpaw J.D. Reichenbach went back to the bender, but Martinson was not fooled this time and looped it into left for the RBI and a 7-1 lead.

After two shutout frames from Aaron Barrett, Rob Wort took the mound for what should have been an easy inning in the 9th. Instead, Carolina did not roll over and made him work. After following a leadoff walk with a strikeout, the slender righty gave up four straight hits — triple to right-center, double to left, a two-run homer off the second tier of signs in right field, then a single to right.

Wort would catch the next batter looking then get the cleanup hitter, 24-y.o. veteran Anthony Gallas, to fly out to shallow left to finally put the game away.

As aforementioned, one of the two teams that Potomac needs to catch and pass to make the playoffs comes to town for three this weekend. Frederick leads Potomac by three, thus the P-Nats need no less than two out of three to have a chance at postseason play and probably need to sweep, given that they will have to face second-place Wilmington on the road as well as these Mudcats for another four as part of the their seven-game road trip to finish out the 2012 season.

Tonight, the P-Nats will send Rob Gilliam (0-1, 5.48) out to the mound against Frederick’s Kevin Gausman (0-0, 12.00), the No. 1 draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles this past June.

Jun 032012
 

Zach Walters (2) congratulates Justin Bloxom on his two-run HR


With three HRs total and a two-hit complete game in the opener, the Potomac Nationals swept a doubleheader from the first-place Lynchburg Hillcats, 6-1 and 4-2.

The wins (Potomac’s third straight) and losses (Lynchburg’s fifth straight), have tightened the race in the Carolina League’s Northern Division. Last weekend, the two teams met in Lynchburg with the Hillcats taking two of three to build an eight-game lead. Since then, Lynchburg has gone 1-5 and Potomac has gone 5-2, shaving the lead to 4½ games. With a win today, Potomac’s chances go from slim to some, but better than a week ago when it was nil and none.

In Game One, Adam Olbrychowski turned in precisely what the team needed: A complete game — especially with this being the first of four doubleheaders in eight days. The 25-year-old veteran gave up just two hits and retired the last 10 batters he faced for his first career complete game.

Zach Walters, who went 4-for-4 on Thursday, continues to swing a hot bat. His first homerun (righthanded) capped off a four-run third that would provide all the support Olbrychowski would need.

In Game Two, Bobby Hansen Jr. made his first start in five weeks and battled through some wildness (three walks) and some long hits (three doubles) to keep the team in the game with a final line of two runs allowed over four innings. He gave up single runs in the second and third innings, but also stranded four baserunners, firing a 90-mph heater for his sole strikeout to end the second and getting a groundout and popup to end the third.

Like Thursday night, the P-Nats put up crooked numbers in consecutive innings to overcome an early (2-0) deficit. Walters homered again (lefthanded) to get the rally going while Michael Taylor singled, took second as Kevin Keyes got hit by a pitch, and scored on Francisco Soriano’s RBI single to tie at 2-2 after four innings.

Justin Bloxom, who was named the Offensive Player of the Month by the Booster Club between games, lived up to the billing with another two-run homer, a pulled shot 15′ fair, 250′ high and 350′ over the right field fence.

Sidewinders Joe Testa and Neil Holland got the win (Testa’s 1st) and save (Holland’s 2nd) as they combined to pitch three shutout innings to complete the doubleheader sweep.

Robbie Ray (1-2, 6.66) has the start this afternoon as Potomac guns for its first three-game series sweep and a chance to slice the Lynchburg lead down to 3½ games, opposed by soap-opera-named Blaine Sims (0-0, 5.26).

Sep 122011
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 2-1 ELIMINATED N/A
Potomac Won, 6-1 @ Frederick,
7:00 p.m.
Paul Demny or Mitchell Clegg vs.
Nick Haughian or Jacob Petit
Auburn OFF DAY vs.
Staten Island,
7:05 p.m.
Wirkin Estevez (6-3, 4.01) vs.
Taylor Morton (0-1, 5.40)

The Harrisburg Senators were swept from the Eastern League playoffs with a 2-1 loss to Richmond. While the flooding that delayed the series two days and shifted it to entirely in Richmond didn’t help, the lack of offense was more to blame. The Sens had just five hits yesterday and 18 for the series, batting a .175 overall, .143 with RISP, and 23 runners left on base. The starting pitching was sensational, with Erik Arnesen, Shairon Martis, and Tanner Roark each going seven innings and the trio striking out 29 batters combined while allowing just five runs total.

The Potomac Nationals decided to wait until the next-to-last chance they had on a Sunday Afternoon In Woodbridge to beat the Keys and force a Game Five in the Northern Division Championship Series tonight in Frederick. The winner will meet Kinston for the 2011 Mills Cup.

It’s the final home game of the 2011 season in Auburn, New York as the Doubledays play host to the Staten Island Yankees in Game One of the best-of-three New York-Penn League Championship Series. The two teams split the only two games they played during the regular season. Wirkin “For The Weekend” Estevez gets the start against 2010 9th-round pick 19-year-old Taylor Morton, who threw all but five of his 55 innings in the regular season in the GCL.

Sep 112011
 

For the second straight afternoon game, the Potomac Nationals scored six times in the bottom of the eighth. Last time, it secured the second-half title. This time, it forced a deciding Game Five in the Carolina League’s Northern Division Series.

After 16 innings of offensive futility — four baserunners last night, five through the first seven innings today — the rally started as one might expect: with a whimper, not a bang. Eury Perez chopped an infield single to the 5/6 hole and beat it out. After unsuccessfully trying to sacrifice, Francisco Soriano worked a walk to push Perez to second. Kobernus likewise “failed” to lay one down, but paid the price with a hit-by-pitch to his wrist to load the bases with nobody out. He was replaced by Sean Nicol.

Do I need to tell you who was up next?

With the infield drawn in, the Potomac right fielder bounced one up the middle to give Potomac the 2-1 lead. Justin Bloxom followed with the third sacrifice attempt, and this time, the cleanup hitter got the job done, moving up Nicol and Destin Hood. Brian Peacock got the intentional pass to reload the bases.

After Sandy Leon, who had the audacity to throw out three of the four runners to try to steal against him, struck out for the second out of the inning, Frederick still looked like they might recover and have a chance to tie, down just 2-1.

Instead, Jose Lozada took out a two-run policy with a single to center and Zach Walters attached a similar rider with a triple over Keys right-fielder for a total of four insurance runs and a 6-1 lead.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without some stellar pitching prior to the eighth. Adam Olbrychowski let in the one Frederick run on six hits, but walked just one and struck out five in his five and a 1/3rd innings of work. Neil Holland was the first man out of the ‘pen and while he did hit a batter, he got a critical strikeout and some help from Keys manager Orlando Gomez, who hasn’t quite grasped the concept that running on Leon is not a good idea, as he sent Miguel Abreu on a steal of third with two outs to end the threat.

Joe Testa took the hill in the 7th and got two quick outs before giving up an infield hit by Dale Mollenhauer, the leadoff lefty that was his raison d’être. Unlike Gomez, manager Matt Lecroy wasn’t about to play with fire and let Testa face Jonathan Schoop, calling instead upon Cameron Selik.

“Win or go home today” Selik tweeted and he backed it up by inducing Schoop to fly out to end the 7th and working around a hit and an error in the 8th. As the pitcher of record for the 8th-inning rally, he got the win for today’s game.

Hector Nelo got three ground outs in the 9th, but, as usual, made it less than automatic by giving up a one-out double and balking the runner over to third.

The series resumes tomorrow night in Frederick. MiLB.com is listing Mitchell Clegg and Nick Haughian as the probables, but the smart money is on a rematch of the Game One starters Sammy Solis Paul Demny and Jacob Petit.

Sep 042011
 

Kinston’s three-run rally with two outs in the second inning proved to be too much for Potomac to overcome, as they dropped the first game of the doubleheader by a 5-3 tally.

Evan Bronson got the start but was not sharp this afternoon, allowing a long leadoff double to start the game and then misplaying a sacrifice bunt to set up runners on the corners with nobody out. After a popup to the three-hole batter, Adam Abraham, it appeared for just a moment that he would clean up his own mess, like the good pitchers do and like he’s done before.

Instead, he would walk the next two batters to give Kinston a 1-0 lead.

Bronson would get a liner to second and a strikeout to end the first, then the same sequence again to the first two batters of the second inning. And again, it looked like the worst had passed.

But the one thing that Bronson can’t control is the insistence by the Nationals of playing Justin Bloxom at third, and it was Bloxom’s 37th error in his 76th game at the position that started the Kinston rally in the second. Yes, you can put the blame on Bronson for failing to buckle down to the next two batters, who singled and homered, but it’s human nature to lose focus when things go awry and hard to ignore when a preventable problem keeps recurring.

Potomac would respond in its half of the 3rd as Cutter Dykstra singled and Eury Perez was safe on a sacrifice attempt to set up runners on first and second. Francisco Soriano’s subsequent bunt attempt was popped up and for a brief moment it appeared that Kinston’s Toru Murata had pulled a fast one by intentionally allowing the ball to drop and firing to second to attempt the 1-4-3 DP.

To his credit, Soriano ran out the play and it saved the P-Nats from an embarrassing moment, if not the umpires. Dykstra strayed from second but retreated to second *after* the throw to second came and went. With the force removed from Dykstra and Soriano beating the relay to first, the only out was the force on Perez. Had Murata thrown to third, he might have gotten away with the gambit and gotten the double play.

Instead, Jose Lozada ripped a first-pitch fastball (when will the Carolina League ever learn?) down the left field line for a two-run double and cut the Kinston lead in half, 4-2.

Bronson worked around threats in the 3rd and 4th innings before working a 1-2-3 fifth. He would throw away a pickoff move that sent Kinston outfielder Delvi Cid all the way around from first to put the Indians up, 5-2. He was lifted after his fourth and final walk for Neil Holland, who stranded the runner with the help of nifty 7-3 double play by Soriano, who has been pressed into OF duty with the shortage of OFs since J.P. Ramirez and J.R. Higley were placed on the DL.

Unfortunately, Kinston’s Murata also settled down to retire seven of the next eight batters, including a double play to end the fifth, before giving up another big hit to Lozada, a solo shot to right field in the 6th. Steven Souza would single two batters later, but he would be the final baserunner as the Kinston closer Preston Guilmet came on in the 7th and final inning to set down the P-Nats in order for his league-leading 35th save

Prior commitments made for a short afternoon, but in the nightcap, Potomac fell again 2-1, giving the Kinston Indians the second-half division title.

For the second straight day, Wilmington beat Frederick to keep Potomac mathematically alive, but it will require another Frederick loss and a win to break the streak. This wouldn’t be the 2011 season if the weather weren’t a part of the narrative, and yes, there is rain in the forecast for tomorrow.

Aug 042011
 

Some of you may have noticed how we’ve keeping tabs on where the affiliates are in the standings with each recap. This, of course, has led to some snarkiness in certain lower levels (OK, the GCL) but the more holistic view is that for the second straight summer, we’re looking at the possibility of multiple teams making the playoffs.

Obviously, player development is the first and foremost goal of the farm, but there is something to be said about playing in the postseason, no matter what the level. Harrisburg, for example, has several players from the 2010 Carolina League championship team and we’d like to think that they’ve learned what it takes to grind out a pennant race. Potomac and Hagerstown have younger, more age-appropriate squads and making the playoffs can only help to instill a winning attitude that many accuse the organization of lacking.

In any case, here’s a look at each affiliates chances down the stretch…

SYRACUSE
On paper, this team should have done better via its pitching, with the likes of Yunesky Maya, Craig Stammen, J.D. Martin, and Ross Detwiler — all touted as possible #5 starters coming out of spring training. The lack of offensive prowess is not as surprising, as this system is indeed lacking with position player prospects at the upper levels. Last year’s roster-filling 4As (e.g. Jason Botts, Chase Lambin, Pete Orr) were simply a little better than this year’s. Maybe we’d be singing a different tune if there were a half system and we thought that Brad Peacock and Tom Milone would be sticking around, but neither seems to be the case.

HARRISBURG
Yes, they’re currently tied for first place, and have been there for all but one day since May 24. But the question is whether or not they can withstand the loss of their leadoff man (Steve Lombardozzi) their ace pitcher (Brad Peacock) and their cleanup hitter (Bill Rhinehart). They’ve gotten some decent replacements by way of buying Leonard Davis from the Can-Am League and taking Tim Pahuta off the taxi squad disabled list, along with two new prospects (Erik Komatsu, Danny Rosenbaum). Tanner Roark has been pitching better of late, and Shairon Martis may very well be pitching below his true level, but Senators fans have to be holding their breath because further losses seem not only possible, but maybe even inevitable. I’ve heard their current left fielder’s pretty good.

POTOMAC
It may be a bold statement in the midst of all this team’s problems, but this team will make the playoffs. That’s more because of the format than anything else. As long as they hold onto second place in the second half, they’re in. With a six-game lead and only three games left against the third-place team (Wilmington, at home 8/23-25), and a seven-game lead over the fourth-place team with four games left (in Lynchburg, 8/30-9/2), that seems like a decent chance. Whether or not they’ll do anything in the playoffs is another story entirely. Frederick would be their first-round opponent, and the two teams meet once more on August 26-28. They’ve split the six games played in the second half, both teams taking two-of-three on the road.

HAGERSTOWN
Something to consider is that a lot of these guys were on the 2010 Vermont squad that nosedived. Will they learn from that experience or repeat it? Another problem is that it’s questionable that Robbie Ray and A.J. Cole are going to be allowed to pitch for very much longer. If that’s the case, then this team is going to have to make like the 2002 Angels and mash their way to a title. It’s also a very tight race in the Sally League North, with four teams within three games of first place. Fortunately, the Suns still have five games apiece left against Hickory (tonight in NC, 8/22-25 in MD) and Lakewood (9/1-5 in MD) and four against Kannapolis (in NC, 8/18-21) and, thus, some control over their own destiny.

AUBURN
Like the Sally North, the Pinckney Division of the New York-Penn League is tightly bunched with four teams within two games of first. Unlike the Sally, there’s a wild card option, but five teams are within three games in that race. The good news is that they have 12 games against last or next-to-last place teams. The bad news is that they have no more games against Williamsport but seven against Mahoning Valley and four against Jamestown, which means the Crosscutters could ease past the Doubledays and let the other divisional foes beat up on each other. The Williamsport schedule is also quite favorable, with 19 games against sub-.500 foes still left to play.

GCL Nationals
Could be eliminated by the end of the weekend. Even with 28-year-olds pitching in middle relief. Just sayin’…

DSL Nationals
Like last year, they’ve been hovering near .500 for most of the season. They’re 5½ games behind with 17 games left, so mathematically they’re alive, but they’re 7½ games back in the wild-card race so unless they rip off a long winning streak against the teams in their own division, it’s over.

Aug 252010
 

Down 4-0 after 4½ innings, things were looking dismal for the Potomac Nationals. It was the sixth game of a six-game homestand that had begun with an eighth-inning meltdown against playoff-bound Winston-Salem and was threatening to send Potomac on the road down 1½ games, relying on other teams for help in their quest to make the postseason.

Like most rallies that begin in the lower half of the lineup, the big inning started slowly with a one-out walk. Then a hit batsmen. Then an error. Suddenly the bases were loaded and the top of the order was coming to the plate.

Leadoff hitter Francisco Soriano fell behind 0-2 after the first two pitches, but then worked the count full, and took the walk to send in the first run. Derek Norris would follow with a sky-high popup, and it looked for just a brief instant that yet another rally would fall short. Wilmington’s manager nevertheless made the call to the bullpen for some help to face Bill Rhinehart.

“Dolla” had doubled to left-center in the first inning, the first of just two hits up to that point. Hit no. 3 went just a little farther: A towering shot just to the right of the scoreboard for a grand slam that gave Potomac a 5-4 lead.

Marcos Frias would come on in relief of Jimmy Barthmaier in the very next inning (the sixth) and cough up the tying run on, of all things, a two-out wild pitch — the third that had eluded the grasp of catcher Derek Norris.

Norris would get his chance for redemption — be it the bases-loaded popup or the wild pitches — in the bottom of the 7th, blasting a ball just a few feet short of Rhinehart’s fifth-inning blast for a two-out double that put Potomac ahead for good at 6-5.

Both teams first man out of the bullpen would make a mistake then settle down for two-plus innings, but Wilmington’s second man out was not so lucky: surrendering an insurance run on a walk and two singles to give Potomac a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the eighth.

A.J. Morris came on in the ninth to pitch a scoreless inning to earn his first professional save and ice the win, which put Potomac back in first place by ½ game and a one-game lead in the loss column. Tomorrow is the teams first scheduled off day since the August 1, and it will be badly needed to prepare for a three-game road series against Frederick this weekend, then a five-game series in Salem next Tuesday through Friday.