Potomac back to the Carolina League finals for the first time since 2014
After hours (days) of rain, a power outage, and a grand slam from first baseman Aldrem Corredor, the Potomac Nationals will advance to the Mills Cup for the first time since 2014 with a 6-2 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats.
The 1:05 p.m. game began at 6:14 p.m. in front of a crowd that was about 1,000 less than the claimed attendance. By 6:18 p.m. the teams were in another delay as the lights went out on a strike-three swing to the Hillcats’ Mitch Longo.
But after about 10 minutes, and the F.P. Santangelo Fan Club settled down, the lights came back on and the game resumed.
Lynchburg drew first blood against Jackson Tetreault in the 2nd as Jorma Rodriguez doubled off the glove of a diving Jack Sundberg in deep left-center field to drive in Anthony Miller, who was able to score all the way from 1st on the two-out knock.
While twice more an P-Nats infielder would falter and allow a runner to reach second, Tetreault was equal to the task over covering for their errors and delivered five innings of one-run ball without a walk and five strikeouts.
The same could not be said for the Hillcats’ Eli Morgan, who gave up a single to Ian Sagdal then a double to Tres Barrera that Mitch Longo briefly mistook for a hand grenade but not before Sagdal was able to score all the way from first. Corredor grounded out to second to push Barrera to third.
The Potomac backstop scored when his counterpart, Gavin Collins, did his best imitation of Raudy Read as he let a pitch in the dirt skip past and then ran like a tortoise after it, which allowed Barrera to lumber down the line for the go-ahead score.
Ben Braymer replaced Tetreault in the 6th and once again dominated Lynchburg for six whiffs and three scoreless innings. Potomac threatened in both the 6th and 7th innings, but Roughlas Odor was able to pull the strings on his pitchers to quash both threats… until the 8th.
After Luis Garcia drew a one-out walk to reach base for the third time in the game, Odor brought in Dalbert Siri for his second appearance in the series. A passed ball by Collins forced Siri to issue an intentional walk to Sagdal. An unintentional walk to Barrera loaded the bases.
Corredor simply needed to get the ball to outfield, perhaps not even that deep because the Lynchburg outfielders had shown repeatedly that a good throw was not common. When the ball left the bat, it looked like another deep fly that the cold, damp air would keep in the confines of the Pfitz. But it kept carrying, enough for a split second it looked like the ball had bounced off the wall instead of just beyond it.
To their credit, the Hillcats did not roll over in the 9th: they scratched out a run against Jacob Condra-Bogan on three singles before the big fella got the last batter on a one-hop smash to the mound and tossed over to Corredor for the final out.
Potomac is scheduled to play Buies Creek, winners of the Southern Division series in three straight, tomorrow and Wednesday before returning to the Pfitz on Thursday. It’s worth noting that a year ago, with Hurricane Irma barreling towards the East Coast, the Carolina League shortened the CLDS to a best-of-three and declared Down East and Lynchburg co-champions.
As of this writing, Hurricane Florence is doing the same. While Buies Creek is likely far enough inland to avoid the wind, the rain may affect both locations, particularly in Woodbridge later this week.