May 112013
 

For the third straight game, Potomac won in its final at-bat. This time, however, it was the reclamation of a lead lost and a swift finish as Jason Martinson led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo HR for a 5-4 win over the Winston-Salem Dash.

The blast, which was the Texan’s seventh, took Richie Mirowski off the hook and “earned” the reliever the dreaded blown-save-win as he gave up the lead with two-out, two-run shot to dead center off the bat of Chris Curley. It was the fourth home run Mirowski has surrendered in just 14⅓ innings.

Early on, this was an exercise in frustration for the opposing offenses. It’s tempting to call a 1-1 game a pitcher’s duel, but the combined 15 baserunners left on through the first five innings beg to differ.

Both A.J. Cole and the Dash’s Chris Bassitt got themselves into and out of jams. Cole walked three, hit a batter, and balked a baserunner but got the final batter out with the strikeout four innings out of five. The lone run he allowed was by no means “cheap,” as Kevan “Don’t Call Me Silent Bob” Smith led off the 4th with triple to the right-center gap and scored on a sacrifice fly.

Twice Bassitt let up back-to-back singles with two outs, but twice the P-Nats were unable to hound him for a third hit as Adrian Nieto tapped out to short in the 1st and Cutter Dykstra popped out with the bases loaded in the 4th.

Potomac needed a couple of miscues to score against Bassitt as Kevin Keyes stole third as part of a double steal with two out and chugged home with the run when toss to first on the dropped third strike was botched for an error.

Both starters were done after five, with Cole finishing his night with one run on five hits and striking out seven. Bassitt gave up seven hits, but just one unearned run with five K’s.

After leaving on nine runners through five, Michael Taylor ended that streak with a two-run home run off the left field foul pole to give Potomac a 3-1 lead. Colin Bates, who set ‘em down in order in the 6th, was touched for a run in the 7th as he was unable to strand a one-out triple, giving up a two-out double to plate the second Winston-Salem run.

Potomac got it back in the 8th as Francisco Soriano led off with a triple and came around to score after Billy Burns walked and stole second (no, I don’t have that on autofill, but I maybe I ought to). The double play taken away, Michael Taylor got the RBI on a fielder’s choice as Soriano sacmpered home with the fourth Potomac run.

Christian Meza, who had pitched a scoreless 8th following Bates to earn the hold, gave way to Mirowski in the 9th. The 24-year-old got the first two on a whiff and a grounder to first but issued a two-out walk that set up Curley for the game-tying blast.

With the win, Potomac improves to 18-16 but remains a game behind Frederick and percentage points behind Lynchburg in the Carolina League North. Weather permitting, game two of the four-game series will feature a matchup RHP Taylor Hill (3-1, 2.21) for the P-Nats and RHP Chris Beck (2-4, 1.50) for the Dash.

Jun 302011
 

In a see-saw battle, Destin Hood delivered the walkoff hit with a single to left to give Potomac a 4-3 win in 10 innings to kick off the first homestand of the second half.

Batting ninth, Eury Perez drew a leadoff walk in the tenth and went to third on a Francisco Soriano double to set up the gamewinner. Winston-Salem elected not to walk Jeff Kobernus, pulling the infield in instead. Kobernus grounded to second, the ball ricocheting off the Dash infielder’s chest momentarily but he recovered to throw out his Potomac counterpart. Hood, the team leader in OBP, worked the count to 2-1 before pulling the ball into left to send Perez home for the gamewinner.

Evan Bronson took the hill in place of the expected Trevor Holder on three days’ rest from his last outing, a relief appearance on Saturday in Kinston in which he surrendered six hits over two innings and faced 14 batters. It was his sixth start in 13 games, as Bronson has pinballed between long relief starting since making three consecutive starts in early May.

Suffice it to say, it was a bit of a surprise to see him take the mound in the top of the seventh after Potomac had taken the lead in the bottom of the sixth. It was not a surprise to see a tired pitcher give back a 3-2 lead with a leadoff home run. Perhaps Potomac had just played back-to-back extra-inning games, but with a fresh arm in the bullpen, the expected move was for a reliever to come in and start building the bridge to the ninth.

Bronson would recover from the circle clout to get the next three out (hey, that rhymes) but would miss the chance to get the win.

Offensively, Potomac would grind out 11 hits, with Justin Bloxom, Sandy Leon, and J.P. Ramirez each going 2-for-4 while Steve Souza and Justino Cuevas both rapped RBI doubles. Souza’s shot to the warning track in left-center would open up the scoring in the second while Cuevas’s tomahawked shot down the left field line gave the P-Nats the aforementioned 3-2 lead.

The whispers were true: Neil Holland came on in the top of the 8th and announced his presence with authority. Not with a 95-mph heater, but by striking out the first three batters he faced with his unusual, not-quite-sidearm delivery that had Winston-Salem batters baffled. He would go two innings and retire all six batters he faced.

Rob Wort pitched the 10th and got the win, aided by a spectacular catch from Perez in deep left-center to open the frame and running dash to the LF line by Ramirez before Kobernus got a routine grounder to end it.

The win puts Potomac at 3-4 for the second half, tied for first place with Frederick and Wilmington, with Paul Demny set to take the hill against Jacob Petricka, who’s making his High-A debut.

Jun 112011
 

With back-to-back-to-back singles in the bottom of the ninth, the P-Nats put an end to an ugly night of baseball for a 9-8 win and (*gasp*) consecutive home wins.

Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus bunted their way on to lead off the inning to bring up Potomac’s all-star representative, Destin Hood. After two swings and a miss and foul-off, Salem’s Dennis Neuman went with a breaking ball for pitch number but Hood put a coat on the hanger, sending it to the wall for the game-winner.

The walkoff, which was Potomac’s third of the year and seventh home win overall, made a winner out of newly sidearming Joe Testa, the only P-Nat pitcher to go untouched with an inning and a third pitched over the 8th and 9th innings.

Early on, it was the same. old. very. tired. story of a starter struggling and getting hit hard and the defense not up to snuff (though in fairness, there does come a point when you can no longer blame the player for his fielding but the manager or the organization for playing him out of position; that point was passed a long, long time ago) as Clegg was charged with four runs on five hits over an inning and 2/3rds while the defense committed two errors.

Salem also took full advantage of Clegg’s slow motion to steal five bases in the first inning.

If there’s any positive to the situation, it’s that Evan Bronson was seen warming up at the first sign of trouble in the first inning and was ready to go when the hook finally came. He would throw four and 1/3rd innings of much-needed relief, surrendering only a no-doubt-about-it home run to dead center and he did it on just three days rest after a similar performance against Frederick on Monday.

The P-Nats would put up a big inning in the bottom of the fourth, with five runs on four hits, highlighted by doubles from Justin Bloxom and Jose Lozada and finishing with Eury Perez guiding a groundball single to righth for the go-ahead run at 6-5.

Two innings later, Potomac would extend the lead to 8-5 with a Peacock single and another Lozada RBI, with another run coming in on an error (the two teams would combine for five on the night).

Josh Smoker was the third straight lefty to take the hill in the 7th and turned in a Nuke LaLoosh-as-a-reliever outing with three walks and three strikeouts over an inning and 2/3rds, giving up an unearned run in his first inning and charged with an earned run the second inning when Marcos Frias gave up a two-out double.

Frias would let in the game-tying run in ignominious fashion, uncorking two wild pitches, the second coming on a walk. Joe Testa was the last man on the mound, getting the final out of the eighth and setting down the side in order in the ninth.

With the win, Potomac has won two in a row at home for the second time this season. Trevor Holder is set to toe the slab against rehabbing Junichi Tazawa in game two of the three-game series tonight.

May 152011
 

On paper, this looked like it was going to be a blowout. Wilmington’s Jake Ordorizzi was coming off a 13-K outing against the first-place Salem Red Sox, Potomac’s Mitchell Clegg two starts removed from an 11-run shellacking against third-place Winston Salem.

Instead, Odorizzi suffered his worst outing and Clegg posted his best as the Potomac Nationals once again prevailed 5-4, this time walking off in the bottom of the 9th.

Make no mistake: Clegg was not dominant. Three of the five hits he gave up were no-doubt doubles and he only struck out two over his five and a 1/3rd innings. But he got the outs he needed, including two double plays and had more outs on the ground than in the air, which is progress for a pitcher that has a tendency to leave his pitches up in the zone.

Meanwhile, the duo of Destin Hood and Eury Perez were nearly unstoppable. Both went 4-for-4 with seven total bases, accounting for eight of the 11 Potomac hits. Hood would drive in three runs while Perez would score two runs, including the gamewinner. But more on that a little later.

After six straight games with an error, the P-Nats finally put a zero in the “E” column with the infielders racking up eight assists and turning two double plays, highlighted by Francisco Soriano knocking down a grounder behind the second-base bag and gunning down the runner to save a run.

Josh Smoker and Marcos Frias — both recent starters-turned-relievers — were the first two to follow Clegg on the mound. Each had mixed results. Smoker, who was hitting 92 on the gun, stranded his inherited runner in the sixth but walked the first two batters in the seventh. Frias let in one of those walks in the seventh, but retired the last five batters he faced.

With a slim 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, Destin Hood drove the first pitch of the eighth deep into the trees beyond the left field for a 4-2 lead. Though the next three batters went down in order, with P-Nat closer Pat Lehman warming in the ‘pen, it looked like the game was over.

Though he had warmed up the night before, Lehman hadn’t pitched since last Wednesday and the Blue Rocks were able to take advantage of the rust for a two-out double and single that tied the game at 4-4.

After a J.R. Higley strikeout and a warning-track flyout by Soriano, Perez got his fourth hit of the game with a single to left field for a chance to avoid extra innings. Wilmington reliever Manauris Baez knew it, too, as he easily threw to first as often as he threw to the plate against the next batter, Jeff Kobernus.

While he was able to hold Perez at first, Baez made the fatal error of giving the speedster a 3-2, two-out jump and Perez took full advantage, taking off when Baez’s motion was toward home and going into the proverbial fifth gear when he saw the ball Kobernus hit clear the shortstop’s leap and float into left-center field.

Stevie Wonder could see that this was not going to be a close play as the crowd roared when Perez kicked into the proverbial fifth gear, gliding past third and sliding home with the game- and series-winning run.

The win knocked Wilmington out of first, and put Potomac at .400 for the year with a 14-21 mark. They’re back on the road again with four against the new first-place team, Frederick, then three against the last-place Lynchburg Hillcats before returning to Woodbridge next Monday for a six-games-in-seven-days homestand.