Last Night In Woodbridge

With four walks and five runs in the first inning, Potomac took advantage of Lynchburg’s wildness to score five runs and built a 7-0 lead as the P-Nats cruised to an 11-4 win in the home opener.

The worry, of course, is that when a pitcher struggles like Ronan Pacheco did at the start is that a lucky break will enable him to survive. Walks to Michael Taylor, Blake Kelso, and Justin Bloxom loaded the bases with one out for Kevin Keyes. One sharp ground ball could end the threat.

Instead, a 10-foot swinging bunt that Pacheco couldn’t field cleanly, as the catcher had to leave home plate and throw out Keyes for the second out and the first Potomac run. But there were still two out and the big inning could be stopped.

No such luck for Pacheco on this Friday the 13th.

The “Groovin’ Aruban” (Randolph Oduber) followed with a single up the middle to score two more. SS Nick Ahmed got to it but couldn’t knock it down. After another walk to doorstop catcher James Skelton, Adrian Sanchez doubled in Oduber and Skelton to extend the lead to 5-0. Francisco Soriano grounded out to end the inning: nine batters up, four walks, two hits, one left on.

Meanwhile, P-Nats starter Bobby Hansen worked around his miscues in the early going. A one-out double in the first. A hit batsmen and a walk with two out in the second.

Veteran catcher Evan Gattis worked a walk from Hansen in the first but hammered him for a solo shot in the third. Evan Salcedo blasted a double over Michael Taylor’s head. On another night, one that wasn’t in the low-to-mid-50s after sundown, it might have went out. If there’s one troubling aspect to this start, it’s that five of the eight hits he gave up were for extra bases.

Still, after getting knocked from the box after two in his first outing by these Hillcats, Hansen lasted six innings and gave up three runs on the eight hits and three walks and struck out three for his first win of the season. The defense came up big in his final inning with Skelton scampering up the line to swipe a tag on throw from Taylor for the second out of the inning and Soriano ranging deep in the hole to gun down a runner at second to end the inning.

Until the seventh inning, Lynchburg was still outhitting Potomac. The lead was still comfortable, but Kevin Keyes made the outcome all but certain with a three-run shot off the top tier of billboards in right-centerfield. An impressive shot on its own, never mind on a cold night.

Wilson Eusebio pitched the seventh and eighth innings, retiring six batters but walking three. Josh Smoker worked the ninth, but fell victim to his own wildness, uncorking a wild pitch on a strikeout to the leadoff batter then hitting a batter after erasing that mistake with double play ball. Salcedo struck for another double for the fourth and final Hillcat run.

The three-game series continues tonight with Adam Olbrychowski slated to pitch for Potomac against Lynchburg’s J.R. Graham.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

5 thoughts on “Last Night In Woodbridge”

  1. I see Hansen is not on the watchlist right now. Still getting to know a lot of the new faces. What kind of stuff does he feature? I notice he hasn’t thrown a lot of innings in any of his years in the system. Do you think he’ll be sticking around this year or could he get bumped when guys like Meyer are ready to jump a level?

    1. Hansen is coming off back surgery last year, which was his first assignment to full-season ball. He throws primarily a two-seam FB, an occasional four-seamer, curve and a change. Not a fireballer, but not a soft-tosser, either. Didn’t get a look at the gun last night.

      He just turned 22 in December so I doubt he’s one to get pushed up before the first half ends. He could have repeated Low-A like Chris McKenzie, another pitcher that had an injury-shortened year for the Suns, so you could interpret his placement in Potomac as a de facto promotion.

      1. With the draft and early signings in July now a rule. Do you think the Nats might be waiting to release additional players until then?

        1. Yes. Between the shorter draft (40 rounds instead of 50) and the earlier signing deadline, my theory is that teams are holding onto guys to make sure they’ll have enough players for short-season ball. They can afford to do this since the new CBA has severely limited the spending on bonuses. My hope is that this is a one-year anomaly, until the “new normal” establishes itself.

    2. And the best thing about last night’s home opener – no buffoon making pointless speeches or wearing a costume and pretending to coach first base. Good riddance.

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