It would be too easy to reduce this game to a close call that didn’t go their way — except for how the Potomac Nationals reacted to it.
To set the scene… the P-Nats had put two runners on for the first time in five innings in the bottom of the 7th, down 4-2. After a called third strike to J.R. Higley for the first out of the inning, Sandy Leon hit a long flyball down the right field line. It was called foul.
Potomac hitting coach Mark Harris stormed down the line from his spot in the first base coaching box to dispute the call made by the home plate umpire. With the base umpire in the field between second and third, an appeal was not going to happen. After a brief tirade, Harris was ejected.
But the P-Nats were clearly dejected. Only one more runner would reach base in that inning, the final seven batters would go down in order, four by a swinging strikeout.
Frederick would score three more runs in the final two innings, as Potomac fell 7-2 and was officially eliminated from the Carolina League North division first-half title.
It was also the ninth straight home loss.
Not coincidentally, for the sixth time in those nine games, the P-Nats fell behind early by letting the visitor score in the first inning. For a team that’s struggling on offense (pretty much 6th in every team offensive stat), it’s a psychological impediment to go up swinging (or bunting) to even the score right away.
Last night, though, they did even it at 1-1 by loading the bases with nobody out with bunt singles by Eury Perez and Jeff Kobernus, a walk to Destin Hood, and a sacrifice fly by Justin Bloxom. Manager Matt LeCroy tried to push the envelope, ordering Kobernus to steal third, but the team’s stolen-base leader was easily thrown out to effectively kill the inning.
Starter Paul Demny did settle down after the first and threw well enough to win for most other teams on most other nights, giving up three runs on nine hits (one a home run), no walks and seven strikeouts. But the bats were silent from the second inning to the sixth, with only Brian Peacock reaching base by a fourth-inning walk, charging Demny with his 7th loss of the season.
Cameron Selik gets the ball tonight and Ryan Zimmerman is scheduled to rehab again in the third game of four against Frederick, which is on a seven-game win streak and on pace to win the first half in back-to-back seasons, and the fourth time in the past six seasons.