Jul 282014
 


Oscar Tejeda homered in the 1st to get Potomac on the scoreboard first, then homered in the 11th off the scoreboard for the last Potomac run and a 6-5 walkoff win to complete the three-game sweep of Carolina.

The HR also snapped a seven-inning scoring drought, as the P-Nats jumped out to a 5-1 lead after three innings while literally knocking out Mudcat starter Dylan Baker with a screamer back to the mound off the bat of Estarlin Martinez that bounded off what appeared to be the noggin as he crumpled in a heap by the mound. He walked off the field under his own power.

Meanwhile, Hector Silvestre made his 2014 debut for the P-Nats and turned in a quality start of three runs on six hits over six innings, but all three runs came via the longball with a solo blast in the 3rd and a two-run blast in the 6th. He would walk none and strike out six without issuing a walk, and left in position to win with a 5-3 lead.

Travis Henke would blow the save with two runs given up in the 7th to allow the Mudcats to tie it at 5-5. He would follow his Mr. Hyde inning with a Dr. Jekyll 8th before giving way to Jake Walsh, who pitched around baserunners in each of his three innings for htis third win in six appearances.

The win, which was the 13th in walkoff fashion, was also the fourth straight for Potomac. Combined with a Wilmington loss extends the P-Nats lead to two games in the C.L. North. The homestand continues with three against Myrtle Beach in a battle of the 2014 first-half champs. Dakota Bacus (3-5, 3.58) gets the ball for the P-Nats versus Chad James (1-1, 5.59) for the Pelicans.

Jul 062014
 

After pummeling the Pelicans for eight runs in the completion, the second game of the de facto doubleheader proved to be a pitcher’s duel that ended in the first “extra inning” as Steve Perez’s two-out single in the bottom of the 8th drove in Tony Renda for a 1-0 win.

Starter Austin Voth can’t quite catch a break as he pitched brilliantly for a third straight start but has just one win to show for it. He allowed just three hits over six shutout innings with no walks and seven strikeouts, which puts him to the Washington minors-leading total of 94 in 88⅔ innings.

In part, that’s because Potomac had not one but two runners thrown out at the plate in the 3rd. Estarlin Martinez was the first, making an ill-advised decision to score from third base on a ball hit to the third baseman while Perez was unable to score from first one batter later when Shawn Pleffner doubled into the left-field corner (though he made it close).

The P-Nats managed just two singles from the 4th to the 7th before the game-winning rally in the 8th. After a weak flyout by Martinez (who was quite busy on defense, catching six flyballs in right field over eight inning), Renda beat out an infield single and took second on a wild pitch. Perez delivered the game-winner with a single to right that was hit fast enough to get past the infielders but too slow for the outfielder to pick up and fire in to beat Renda.

The win went to Chris Manno, who struck out four over the 7th and 8th innings while walking one. Combined with a Lynchburg loss, Potomac returned to first place by a half-game over Wilmington, who will be in town next for four games tomorrow through Thursday.

Matt Spann (5-3, 4.45) gets the ball tonight against Andrew Faulkner (6-1, 2.35) in the series finale.

Jun 032014
 

Let the drumbeat from the MASN commenters for Tony Renda begin…

With his fourth hit of the night, the 5’8″ (in his helmet and cleats) Potomac second baseman completed a three-run rally in the 9th for a 5-4 win and a four-game sweep of the defending Carolina League champions.

Combined with a walkoff loss by the Lynchburg Hillcats, the P-Nats returned to first place since falling out of a first-place tie on Memorial Day with a 13-4 loss to the Red Sox.

The comeback was heavily aided by Salem, thanks to three critical mistakes. The first came with one out and Shawn Pleffner on first base as Salem’s Reed Gragnani booted a Khayyan Norfork grounder to put runners on 1st and second. The second was a balk that took away the double play.

Still leading 4-2, Salem opted not to walk Will Piwnica-Worms, who had been 0-for-3 up to that point. A single to center made him 1-for-4 with two RBI as both Pleffner and Norfork came in to score.

The third mistake was a grounder to third off the bat of Pedro Severino that Sox third baseman Ryan Dent misfired to second for the second error and second missed chance at a double play. Renda then delivered the gamewinner to plate Piwinica-Worms for the 5-4 win.

The 4-for-4 effort, which also included a double and a single and a two-base-error ruled as a triple, extended Renda’s current hit streak to six games, over which he’s gone 12-for-30 with seven runs, five walks drawn, and five RBI.

The win went to Travis Henke, who got the last two outs of the 7th and blanked Salem in 8th and 9th innings with one hit allowed and three strikeouts. John Simms made the start, giving up the first two Salem runs on seven hits, including a solo shot in the 5th, over four and 2/3rd innings.

Bryan Harper followed Simms, striking out the last batter of the 5th to strand two runner. He worked around a single and a walk in the 6th, but couldn’t do likewise in the 7th, literally throwing away a sacrifice attempt that led to the second two Salem runs (both unearned).

Potomac now hits the road for three against the third-place (but still in contention, two games behind) Wilmington Blue Rocks then the two teams switch venues for another three-game series this weekend. Like last season, the two teams play just six games in the first half but 14 times in the second.

May 212014
 

After making the error that gave back the lead to Lynchburg in the top of the 9th, Stephen Perez was up sixth in the bottom of the 9th and would need some help, if not luck, to get a shot at redemption.

Narciso Mesa drew the leadoff walk from the leadoff position, the second time he’d reached base in the game, but had had a sub-.200 OBP coming into the game. After a strikeout by Estarlin Martinez, Oscar Tejeda came up and drew the second walk of the inning.

Tony Renda, who’d singled in each of the four previous at-bats, would’ve been the lede had he gotten a fifth hit. Instead, he too struck out, leaving it up to Shawn Pleffner, the 6’5″ first baseman who was unable to snag either Perez error, both of which had sailed over his 9′ or so reach with a short leap.

Pleffner had already singled twice the opposite way, towards Lynchburg LF Josh Elander, who hadn’t made an accurate throw all game long. Could Pleffner serve up another his way and send in Mesa for the tie? Or perhaps hit a gap and end it for sure?

Nope. Pleffner wouldn’t get the chance because the umpires made the rare but easy call of catcher interference when Pleffner’s bat struck the glove of Anthony Nunez, who got out of his crouch and shook his left hand while Hillcat manager Luis Salazar argued.

Bases loaded. Two out in the 9th. Perez got his chance and wasted no time by ripping the first pitch into right field to plate both the tying and winning runs and turn a 5-4 deficit into a 6-5 walkoff. Perez finished with two errors, but also drove in three runs on three hits.

Derek Self, who faced two batters in the top of the 9th — Perez’s second error, and a strikeout — got the win in relief. He was the second man out of the ‘pen, following Brett Mooneyham, who pitched an up-and-down two and 2/3rds innings with two runs (one earned) on three hits and three walks.

Dakota Bacus, who started the original April 28th game and was on the mound when play resumed, went the first six innings and gave up three runs (one earned) on seven hits and a walk while striking out two. The win was Potomac’s 23rd and lowered their magic number to 25 over the second-place Wilmington Blue Rocks for the 1st-half title.

May 072014
 

The Potomac Nationals rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to walk off in the 9th with a 4-3 win over Frederick. Randolph Oduber’s two-out double to right-center, his second two-bagger of the game and third hit overall, sent in Justin Miller all the way from first base to complete the comeback effort.

Of course, had the P-Nats not been so sloppy in the first, the drama would not have been necessary. It started with the very first batter as Oscar Tejeda booted a grounder to third by the Keys leadoff man Glynn Davis. After a 1-3 sacrifice moved up Davis, Zane Chavez singled to center.

For the second time in as many games Narciso Mesa launched a rocket in from center. If Cole Leonida were 7’2″ he might have caught it on the fly. Instead it sailed to the backstop and allowed Chavez to take second. Former P-Nat Mike Burgess drove in the first run with a groundout to first.

Frederick got another gift run when Stephen Perez committed his eighth error on a routine grounder, pulling the 6’5″ first baseman Shawn Pleffner off the bag far enough that the southpaw couldn’t get the tag play ruled in his favor (it looked like he got him but thanks to the Carolina League’s parsimony two-umpire system, the call was made from across the diamond).

Burgess would double and score in the 4th, catching the Potomac battery napping with a steal of third and trotting home on single by Jason Esposito as the Keys extended their lead to 3-0.

Frederick’s Bradley Wager went through the Potomac lineup twice with just a single hit allowed, retiring nine in a row from the 1st to the 4th, but failed the true test of a starter — making it through the lineup a third time.

Oduber doubled to the LF corner to start the 6th, Perez singled to center to push him third, and Tejeda atoned for his error with a three run bomb on a BP warmer to the tie it up at 3-3 and chase Wager from the game.

The big fly also took John Simms off the hook, as the 22-y.o. survived the errors to notch the very first quality start for Potomac in 2014: three runs (one earned) on four hits over six innings with no walks and two strikeouts.

The gamewinner came after a questionable called third strike in the 9th against Leonida, who protested without getting tossed, perhaps influencing the walk that followed to Justin Miller. Mesa missed his chance for redemption with a first-pitch popup for the second out in the ninth, setting up Oduber’s heroics.

The win went to Robert Benincasa, who pitched a scoreless 9th, while Rafael Martin made his first appearance of the year with two perfect innings in the 7th and 8th.

Potomac goes for the sweep tonight with Ronald Pena (2-0, 6.23) making the start against Frederick’s Branden Kline (2-1, 2.36).

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.