Sep 142013
 

The Sand Gnats pitchers stifled the Suns for a second straight night, shutting them out 2-0 to take the South Atlantic League Championship, three games to one.

Hagerstown actually outhit Savannah 6-2, but the difference was the walks. Losing pitcher Dakota Bacus gave up three in the space of four batters in the Savannah 4th to load the bases, then Savannah’s Stefan Sabol doubled to left to score the game’s only runs.

Bacus would finish with a line of two runs on two hits and three walks over four innings while striking out four. Ronald Pena followed him on the mound and delivered four perfect innings of relief: 12 up, 12 down with one strikeout.

Hagerstown’s best threat came in the third as Stephen Perez led off with a single to left and two infield hits loaded the bases with nobody out. Sand Gnat starter Stephen Matz escaped the jam by striking out Shawn Pleffner and “Help Me” Wander Ramos and inducing a popup from Mike McQuillan. The Suns 3-4-5 hitters would combine to go 0-for-11 with one walk and nine strikeouts.

Despite the Pena lockdown, Hagerstown would not get another runner into scoring position until the 9th, when Estarlin Martinez pinch-hitter Bryan Lippincott doubled with one out. The 21-y.o. outfielder 23-y.o. infielder would go no farther as Khayyan Norfork became the 13th Sun to whiff for the second out and Pedro Severino popped out in foul territory to end the game.

Savannah’s title is its first as an affiliate of the New York Mets. The Sand Gnats previous title was in 1996. Hagerstown has never won a championship since it joined the Sally League in 1993.

Sep 132013
 

Thunder Win 2013

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 11-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 6-0 @ Savannah, 7:05 p.m. Bacus (1-0, 0.00) vs. Matz (5-6, 2.62)



Trenton 11 Harrisburg 4
• Karns (L, 1-1) 2⅔ IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 2K, HBP, WP
• Grace 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Hague 3-4, R, BB, RBI
• Burns 2-4, BB, SB

It’s a painful sight to see — the opposing team celebrating on your home field — but tip your caps to Trenton, who beat Harrisburg 11-4 to win the Eastern League Championship Series. They swept the two division champions by a composite score of 35-16 over six games. The Senators briefly led 1-0 after an RBI single by Justin Bloxom in the 1st, but an epic third-inning meltdown sealed the deal for the Thunder. Nathan Karns worked around walks in the 1st and 2nd innings but couldn’t get the third out in the 3rd, allowing six straight to reach base with two outs beginning with a hit batsman. A single (one run), wild pitch (2nd run), triple (3rd run), double (4th run), and a walk followed to chase Karns. Matt Swynenberg walked a pair to complete the five-run 3rd, then surrendered a two-run shot in the 5th. Harrisburg plated two in their half of the 6th to pull within four at 7-3 but Trenton piled on with another homer in the 8th and three more in the 9th. Harrisburg answered with one in the last of the 9th but it was way too little and way too late.

Savannah 6 Hagerstown 0
• Turnbull (L, 1-1) 5+ IP, 9H, 6R, 6ER, 2BB, 3K
• Harper 2IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K, 2-0 IR-S
• Lippincott 1-3, BB
• Pleffner 1-4, 2B

Gabriel Ynoa lived up to his billing as the Sally League’s Most Outstanding Pitcher, tossing seven scoreless innings as Savannah shut out Hagerstown, 6-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Sally League Finals. The slender 20-year-old allowed just four hits and one walk, striking out five for the win. Suns pitcher Kylin Turnbull was touched for all six Sand Gnat runs on nine hits and two walks over five-plus innings. Bryan Harper and Justin Thomas combined for three innings of no-hit relief, but the offense, which threatened early with a pair of doubles in the first two innings, stagnated after Isaac Ballou’s two-out single in the 5th with nine up and nine down until Tony Renda reached on a two-out error in the 8th. Bryan Lippincott was only other Hagerstown batter to reach base twice, drawing a walk in the 1st and singling in the 9th.

Sep 122013
 

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 5-4 vs. Trenton, 7:00 p.m. Karns (10-6, 3.26) vs. Greene (8-4, 3.18)
Hagerstown OFF DAY @ Savannah, 7:05 p.m. Turnbull (6-5, 3.58) vs. Ynoa (15-4, 2.72)



Trenton 5 Harrisburg 4
• Cole 4IP, 7H, 1R, 0ER, BB, K
• Mirowski (BS, 1; L, 1-1) 1⅓ IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 2K
• Head 2-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Burns 1-3, 2R, 2BB, SB

The Senators are on the ropes after a 5-4 loss to the Thunder that gives Trenton a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Eastern League Championship Series. A.J. Cole walked just one and struck out just one, but labored through four innings (87 pitches) to scatter seven hits and allow just an unearned run in the 1st. Harrisburg took a brief 2-1 lead with single runs in the 4th and 5th innings. Trenton answered the first salvo with two in the bottom of the 5th to recapture the lead at 3-2, to which the Sens matched in the top of the 6th for a 4-3 Harrisburg lead. The Thunder plated the tying and game-winning runs in the last of the 7th as they capitalized on a pair of one-out walks with two singles and a slow roller to second. Harrisburg got two runners on with one out in the 9th with singles by Jeff Howell and Billy Burns, but neither Brian Goodwin nor Steve Souza Jr. could connect off Trenton closer Tommy Kahnle to send in pinch-runner Sean Nicol or Burns.

Hagerstown vs. Savannah — Game 3 Sally League Finals
The Sand Gnats achieved what the Senators could not: a split on the road to turn the series into a best-of-three at home. Tonight, Hagerstown faces the Sally League’s Pitcher of the year, 20-year-old Gabriel Ynoa, who won Game 1 in the Divisional Series and five of his last six starts in the regular season. Things don’t get any easier for Hagerstown after Ynoa, as Savannah has tabbed Steven Matz (2.62 ERA, 2.63 FIP) and former position prospect Jacob Kuebler (2.76 ERA, 3.16 FIP) as its Game 4 and 5 starters. Kylin Turnbull gets the ball for the Suns tonight, hoping to celebrate his 24th birthday with a “W.” The Suns have not announced potential starters for Games 4 and 5, but with Jake Johansen having made zero starts with less than five days’ rest this season and an reportedly injured Austin Voth, it’s likely to be two of the following three pitchers: Dakota Bacus, Ian Dickson, and Pedro Encarnacion.

Sep 112013
 

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 8-2 @ Trenton,
7:05 p.m.
Cole (4-2, 2.18) vs.
Mitchell (0-0, 1.93)
Potomac Lost, 6-4 END OF SEASON N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 6-2 OFF DAY N/A



Trenton 8 Harrisburg 2
• Treinen (L, 0-1) 2⅔ IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 3K, WP
• Gilliam 3IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K
• Howell 2-2, 2B
• Bloxom 2-4, R, 2B

An early 2-0 Senators lead was erased with a five-run 3rd as the Thunder struck for an 8-2 win in Game One of the Eastern League Championship Series. Blake Treinen took the loss, charged with all five runs on four hits and two walks over two and 2/3rds innings. Matt Swynenberg stranded one in finishing the 3rd but gave up two of his own in the 4th as Trenton scored eight unanswered runs. Harrisburg mustered just six hits and drew three walks, with Justin Bloxom and Jeff Howell combining for four hits and hitting both doubles. The Senators went 1-for-8 with RISP and stranded eight.

Salem 6 Potomac 4
• Solis (L, 0-1) 3⅓ IP, 6H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 4K
• Dupra 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, HBP
• Nieto 2-4, 2B, 3RBI
• Sanchez 2-4, 2B, BB

The P-Nats broke out for playoff highs of four runs and 10 hits, but the Red Sox would not be denied, winning their 11th straight game by a 6-4 count to sweep the 2013 Mills Cup. It’s the first Carolina League Championship for the franchise since 2001. Sammy Solis was the losing pitcher, knocked for five runs on six hits and two walks over three and a 1/3rd innings while striking out four. The Adrians Nieto and Sanchez both went 2-for-4 with a double with Nieto driving in the first three Potomac runs — all with two outs.

Savannah 6 Hagerstown 2
• Voth (L, 1-1) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 0K
• Meza 2⅔ IP, 2H, 0R, BB, 5K, 2-1 IR-S
• McQuillan 3-4, R
• Lippincott 2-4, 3B, 2RBI

Savannah evened the Sally League Championship Series at 1-1 with a 6-2 win over Hagerstown. The Sand Gnats scored three in the 2nd, two in the 5th, and one more in the 8th before the Suns were able to respond with a pair in the last of the 8th. Austin Voth, who left the game with an undisclosed injury (redundant, yes, I know) got the “L” and was dinged for the first three runs on three walks and one hit with no K’s over an inning and a 1/3rd. Mike McQuillan and Bryan Lippincott combined to go 5-for-8 with a run scored (McQuillan) and both RBI (Lippincott). The series resumes on Thursday in Georgia for Games 3 with Kylin Turnbull as the Hagerstown starter.
Roster moves: LHP Jake Walsh added to playoff roster; RHP Pedro Encarnacion removed from it.

Sep 102013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg OFF DAY @ Trenton,
7:05 p.m.
Treinen (6-7, 3.64) vs.
Turley (11-8, 3.88)
Potomac OFF DAY @ Salem, 7:05 p.m. TBD vs. Cuevas (8-9, 5.05)
Hagerstown Won, 6-1 vs. Savannah,
7:05 p.m.
Voth (1-0, 3.38) vs.
Lugo (2-2, 2.53)



Harrisburg @ Trenton — Game 1 Eastern League Finals
Great pitching can cover up a very poor offense. Same thing goes for Harrisburg, too. Of course, that’s all fine and dandy in the long run but the playoffs are about who’s hot now. Trenton just swept the league’s best team in the regular season (86 wins, #2 offense, #2 pitching), which ought to fit that description. The Senators and Thunders played nearly to a draw, Harrisburg taking five of nine, but Trenton winning two of three in their final series at home. Apparently, rest means more than rust, as both teams are opting for a pitcher who didn’t appear in the first round and last pitched nine days ago.

Potomac @ Salem — Game 3 Carolina League Finals
The P-Nats were the only team in the Carolina League with a winning road record (37-32) and they did sweep the Red Sox in a road series (in April). So yes, there’s a chance and it may even be better than 3,720 to 1… if the team can snap out of its offensive funk. Tonight’s Game Three starter for Potomac continues to be the indecisive “TBD,” though the smart money is for the team to stick to its rotation with Sammy Solis.

Hagerstown 6 Savannah 1
• Johansen (W, 1-0) 5IP, 3H, 0R, 2BB, 2K
• Dickson (H, 1) 3IP, 1H, R, ER, 2BB, 3K
• Renda 1-3, 2B, 3RBI
• Ramos 2-4, R, 2-2B
• Lippincott 2-4, R, RBI

Nats top draft pick Jake Johansen was reactivated and was none the worse for wear, tossing five shutout innings for a 6-1 Suns win over the Sand Gnats in Game One of the Sally League Cahmpionship Series. Johansen allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out two to pick up the win. Tony Renda drove in the first three Hagerstown runs with an RBI groundout in the 3rd and a two-run double in the 5th while “Help Me” Wander Ramos and Bryan Lippincott both went 2-for-4 to lead the Suns offense, which put the game away with a three-run rally in the bottom of the 8th.
Roster moves: RHP Jake Johansen added to the playoff roster; LHP Jake Walsh removed from it.

Sep 092013
 

Bats Have Gone Dead
Salem shut out Potomac, 4-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Mills Cup Series. The win was the 10th in a row for the Red Sox, who now have three chances to win one game at home to win their first league championship as a Red Sox affiliate.

That’s the 2013 Mill Cup series in a nutshell, playing it straight, as they used to say in the newspapers (you know, those funny paper thingies that come with the sales flyers). But in sports (and politics), it’s de rigeur to play the blame game. Without discrediting the pitching of Salem and Lynchburg per se, the explanation is pretty simple: as a group, the P-Nats bats have gone dead in the playoffs.

This is, of course, a broad generalization. There are exceptions — Cutter Dykstra, .375; Randolph Oduber, .333; Kevin Keyes, .294. But then there’s the heart of the lineup — Michael Taylor, .105; Adrian Nieto, .000; Brandon Miller, .000. Taylor is perhaps the most heartbreaking because even Stevie Wonder can see that he’s pressing, with eight strikeouts that have nearly been all waves at soft stuff away versus a rip-and-miss, a step back to his fundamental flaw that forced him to repeat this level in the first place.

Thus, it didn’t really matter who was pitching last night for Potomac; there are no nil-nil ties in baseball. Mooneyham was wild, walking four and running multiple deep counts, but only gave up one hit and two runs over four innings. Paul Demny wasn’t any better, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk over two and a 1/3rd innings of relief.

As you might expect from the numbers above, Dykstra and Oduber were 2-for-4 and 2-for-3 respectively but just once had consecutive hits, with one out in the 3rd. Oduber strayed too far past second base on a single to left by Dykstra and was gunned down 7-6-4 to kill the one true rally the P-Nats were able to put together. They finished with six hits (all singles) and one walk and left on seven.

The series shifts to Salem for remainder of the series. Sammy Solis is the most likely Game 3 starter for Potomac, but it’s possible that Blake Schwartz will be asked to take the hill on four days’ rest after throwing eight innings on Thursday. The Red Sox have announced that William Cuevas will oppose whomever the P-Nats choose.

Sep 082013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Won, 5-1 OFF DAY N/A
Potomac Lost, 5-3 vs. Salem,
6:05 p.m.
Mooneyham (0-3, 13.50) vs.
Aguilera (9-6, 4.23)
Hagerstown Won, 6-2 OFF DAY N/A



Harrisburg 4 Erie 1
• Ray (W, 1-0) 6⅔ IP, 3H, R, ER, 2BB, 6K
• Mirowski 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, K
• Souza 4-4, 2R, 3-2B, 2RBI, 2SB
• Burns 2-5, R, SB

Robbie Ray pitched into the seventh while Steve Souza Jr. racked up seven total bases in a 5-1 win over Erie that breaks the Terry Byrom curse and puts Harrisburg into the Eastern League Championship Series for the first time since 2002. Ray went six and 2/3rds innings, letting in just the lone Seawolves run on three hits and two walks while striking out six. Souza went 4-for-4 with three doubles, two runs scored, and two stolen bases. Harrisburg never trailed, scoring twice in the 1st and once in the 2nd to take a 3-0 lead then added two more in the 7th for the game’s final tally. Next up: Games 1 and 2 in Trenton on Tuesday.

Salem 5 Potomac 3
• Purke (L, 0-1) 5+ IP, 6H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 4K
• Rauh 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Dykstra 3-5, RBI
• Keyes 2-4

Too little, too late Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown 6 West Virginia 2
• Turnbull (W, 1-0) 5IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 3K
• Pena (S, 1) 4IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 3K
• Ballou 4-5, 3R, 2B
• Renda 3-4, R, 2RBI, BB

Hagerstown broke open a one-run game with a three-run 6th that secured a 6-2 win and the first trip to the Sally League Finals for the Suns as Nationals affiliate. Every starter hit safely, led by leadoff man Isaac Ballou, who went 4-for-5 with a double and three runs scored in a 16-hit overload on Power pitching. Kylin Turnbull allowed both West Virginia runs on six hits and two walks to get the win. Ronald Pena finished the game with four scoreless innings of relief, giving up a hit and a walk. The Finals begin tomorrow as the Savannah Sand Gnats visit for Games One and Two on Monday and Tuesday.

Sep 072013
 
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Won, 4-1 vs. Erie,
7:00 p.m.
Ray (5-2, 3.72) vs.
R. Garcia (2-4, 4.79)
Potomac OFF DAY vs. Salem,
6:35 p.m.
Purke (5-3, 4.43) vs. TBD
Hagerstown Lost, 6-3 (11 inn.) vs. West Virginia,
7:05 p.m.
Turnbull (6-5, 3.58) vs.
Heredia (7-3, 3.05)



Harrisburg 4 Erie 1
• Karns (W, 1-0) 7IP, 5H, 0R, 0BB, 8K
• Herron (SV, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, K
• Goodwin 2-3, R, BB, RBI, SB
• Bloxom 2-4, 2B, RBI

Nathan Karns shut down the Seawolves for seven innings as the Senators won, 4-1 and took a 2-1 lead in the ELDS. Karns walked none and struck out eight and needed just 79 pitches to lay the seven goose eggs atop the scoreboard. The shutout was broken up in the 8th when Christian Garcia walked two of three batters faced and Erie connected for a two-out RBI single off Richie Mirowski. Tyler Herron closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth. Brian Goodwin reached base three times with a walk and two singles and scored on an RBI double off the bat of Justin Bloxom (2-for-4) as Harrisburg notched seven hits, including a solo HR by Jason Martinson.
Roster move: RHP Christian Garcia reassigned from Potomac to Harrisburg for MLB Rehab.

Potomac — OFF DAY
After eliminating the 2012 Mills Cup Champs, Potomac starts its quest for its third Carolina League championship as a Nats affiliate with two games against Salem. The Red Sox come to Woodbridge as winners of 19 of their last 22 games — a streak that includes seven wins against the defeated playoff teams, Lynchburg and Myrtle Beach. During the regular season, the P-Nats won 10 of 18 games, but haven’t played the S-Sox since late July, when the two teams split ten games over a three-week period. Matt Purke* who beat Salem for his first High-A win on July 29, is the probable for Potomac but Salem has yet to show its hand as to which of its remaining three starters — Mike Aguilera (9-6, 4.23), Heri Quevedo (6-5, 4.18), William Cuevas (8-9, 5.05) — will oppose him in Game One.
* Psst… new PA guy: it rhymes with turk, not turkey.

West Virginia 6 Hagerstown 3 (11 inn.)
• Encarnacion 4+ IP, 5H, 2R, 1ER, 2BB, 5K
• Bacus 4IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, BB, 4K, 2-1 IR-S
• Thomas (L, 0-1) ⅓ IP, 1H, 2R, 2ER, BB, K
• Harper ⅔ IP, 2H, R, ER, 0BB, K, 3-2 IR-S
• Ballou 2-3, 2R, 2B
• Renda 3-5, 2B

Josh Bell powered West Virginia’s 6-3 win with a two-run double in the 11th to force a deciding Game Three in Hagerstown tonight. The switch-hitting outfielder had four RBI total, tying the game in the 5th with a sacrifice fly and again in the 7th with an RBI groundout. This was in stark contrast to the Suns, who went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left on seven men. Isaac Ballou (2-for-3), Tony Renda (3-for-5), and Pedro Severino (2-for-4) scored all three runs and combined for seven of the eight Hagerstown hits. Pedro Encarnacion went the first four innings and allowed the first two Power runs on five hits and two walks while fanning five. Dakota Bacus and Gilberto Mendez combined for six innings of one-run relief before the fateful 11th. The final frame began with Justin Thomas for three batters and one out, Cody Davis for one batter (single), and ended with Bryan Harper giving up the bases-loaded double to Bell (could have been worse: the runner from first was gunned down on a 7-6-2 play at the plate) and a single before striking out the final batter.

Sep 062013
 

CLNDS 13 celebrationWill Piwnica-Worms was a late addition to the playoff roster, but contributed for the second straight night with a two-out single in the 9th to give the P-Nats a 3-2 walkoff win and their third trip to the Mills Cup Finals in the last six seasons.

Kevin Keyes, who had doubled to left off Lynchburg reliever Jose Lugo in the 6th, cranked one off the right field wall with one out in the 9th for his second two-bagger. Despite having struck out three times previously, Brandon Miller was given an intentional pass in favor of a possible double play by Randolph Oduber.

The Groovin’ Aruban became the 7th P-Nat to go down by way of the K versus Jugo, which brought Piwnica-Worms to the plate. Lynchburg backup backstop Anthony Nunez, who hadn’t let up a passed ball in 18 games with the Hillcats during the regular season, let one go off his glove to move up the runners 90 feet.

The miscue proved fatal as Piwnica-Worms guided a seeing-eye single between first and second, sending in Keyes for the gamewinner.

Blake Schwartz “only” went eight innings, giving up both Lynchburg runs on eight hits but walked none and struck out five. Greg Holt got the win, working around a leadoff walk in the 9th with a flyout and two ground outs, assisting on the final out himself, 1-3.

In the Carolina League Southern Division series, the Salem Red Sox swept the Myrtle Beach Pelicans two games to none with a 4-3 win in 10 innings. The Sox will come to town tomorrow night for the best-of-five Mills Cup Championship, their first appearance since being swept by Lynchburg in 2009. Potomac was the 2008 and 2010 Carolina League Champions, defeating Myrtle Beach and Winston-Salem, respectively, three games to one.

Pitching matchups for the Finals have not yet been formally announced, but Potomac’s rotation will most likely be Matt Purke in Game One on Saturday, Paul Demny in Game Two on Sunday and Sammy Solis in Game Three in Salem on Tuesday with Schwartz and Purke going for Games Four and Five (if necessary, and also in Salem) on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sep 062013
 

Clinch-vs-Lynchburg-9513

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Harrisburg Lost, 2-1 (12 inn.) vs. Erie, 7:00 p.m. Karns (10-6, 3.26) vs.
Crouse (9-10, 4.47)
Potomac Won, 3-2 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown OFF DAY vs. West Virginia, 7:05 p.m. Encarnacion (10-9, 3.58) vs.
Kuchno (9-5, 4.01)



Erie 2 Harrisburg 1 (12 inn.)
• Hill 6IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 2K, HBP
• Grace 2⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
• Swynenberg (L, 0-1) 1⅔ IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, K
• Goodwin 3-5, OF assist at 3B
• Howell 0-3, SF, RBI

Back-to-back two-out singles plus an error plated the gamewinner in the 12th as the Seawolves edged the Senators, 2-1 to tie up the ELDS at 1-1. Matt Swynenberg took the loss, giving up three hits total over an inning and 2/3rds. Starter Taylor Hill went the first six, allowing an unearned run on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts. Both Erie runs were unearned, however the home team outhit the visitors 10-5. Brian Goodwin went 3-for-5 but the sole Harrisburg run scored in the 8th, as Sean Nicol led off with a double then took third on a wild pitch and came home a Jeff Howell sacrifice fly.
Roster moves: C Brian Jeroloman placed on the DL; C Cole Leonida reassigned from Potomac.

Potomac 3 Lynchburg 2
• Schwartz 8IP, 8H, 2R, 1ER, 0BB, 5K
• Holt (W, 1-0) 1IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 0K
• Keyes 2-5, R, 2-2B
• Piwnica-Worms 1-3, R, BB, RBI

Blake Schwartz accepted the challenge, while the “new guy” delivered the walkoff Last Night In Woodbridge.

Hagerstown — OFF DAY
Pedro Encarnacion, Hagerstown’s leader in innings pitched, gets the start against West Virginia, which sends its workhorse John Kuchno. The Suns lead the best-of-three series 1-0 and will host the deciding game tomorrow night… if they don’t clinch tonight.