It takes more than a little luck to win ten games straight, but the luck ran out on Potomac in a 7-6 loss to Frederick this afternoon.
Truth be told, both teams did their best to give this one away. The box score will say just four errors, but sloppy defense was the name of the game in the final three innings as a 1-0 game turned into a 7-6 battle of who could field less.
Potomac starter Taylor Hill got the no-decision despite tossing six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out five for the game. He turned the game over to Colin Bates in the 7th, and while a 1-0 game is by no means a gimme, it didn’t take long for folks to wonder if maybe Hill might have been given the hook one inning too soon.
Frederick put on the first two men with a double and a single to set up first and third. A tapper back to the mound looked like the break Bates was looking for, as he fired over to Cutter Dykstra to catch the man at third leaning but dropped the ball for an error in the rundown, following the tag while trying for a second out, which allowed the original man at first to advance to third.
A controversial steal (looked like the runner overslid second and was tagged) took away the double-play setup and then the next batter hit one to Dykstra, who committed a second error to load up the bases. Bates induced a popup for the inning’s second out, but if you’re a fan of the game, you already know that the Keys would take advantage of the two extra chances.
A two-out walk tied the game at 1-1. The leak sprung with a two-run single by Jason Esposito, who had came off the bench in the first when Jerome Pena got tossed for arguing a called third strike, giving Frederick a 3-1 lead.
The levee broke with a three-run shot by Brenden Webb, who had entered the game in the fourth when Nicky Delmonico got tossed for arguing a called third strike. The big fly pushed the Keys lead to 6-1.
Ordinarily, have two of the opponents’ starters ejected might be a good thing, but perhaps the P-Nats might have wished the umps were more
mature patient, as the replacements combined to go 2-for-5 with a walk and five RBI.
Potomac got single runs in the 7th and 8th innings, earning the first one with a Michael Taylor triple in the 7th followed by an RBI groundout by Jason Martinson, but getting a gift run in the 8th with a two-out error that extended the frame and allowed Potomac within striking distance at 7-3 after eight innings.
Another error in the 9th and some poor glovesmanship led to three more unearned runs in the 9th, but the equalizer never made it into scoring position as Billy Burns, batting righthanded, rolled one to short for the game’s final out.
The loss keeps the Potomac magic number to clinch at six with eight games to play. Frederick is in second place, three games back and Lynchburg, with a doubleheader split today, is in third place at four games back.
The P-Nats finish on the road, beginning with a three-game set in Zebulon, followed five in Frederick as the first half winds down next Sunday.