Last Night in Woodbridge

Perhaps it was just one big inning, but they’ve been fewer and farther between in the second half as the fourth-place P-Nats beat up on the fifth-place Keys for a 9-5 win.

Early on, it looked like Ben Braymer might repeat his previous outing last Sunday, pinballing from crafty soft-tosser to meatball chef from batter to batter, as he gave up two sharp singles in between three flailing strikeouts. He would settle down in the 2nd and 3rd but then Frederick got to him in the 4th for its first run on another two singles before Braymer got some help from veteran David Masters who ranged up the middle to prevent a third single, instead turning a 6-B-3 DP to end the inning.

As it often does, the defensive gem carried over in the bottom half of the innings, with Masters starting the rally with a one-out walk, his second of the game, and then a sequence of four straight hits – along with two errors, though neither would have truly mattered as Rhett Wiseman launched his 17th HR with one out to make 5-1 and Nick Banks connected on a two-out double to make it 9-1.

Buoyed by the big lead, Braymer worked around a single in the 5th but then ran into trouble in the 6th with two doubles and two more singles before he finally got a popup to end it. While technically a quality start, it was still nine hits over six innings for the southpaw but good enough for him to earn a win.

Not that a rehabbing Koda Glover didn’t make things interesting. Sure, he looked the part, but this was a de facto spring training outing and everyone and their grandmother knew Glover would be throwing mostly fastballs. Frederick sat on ’em and racked up five more hits over the next inning and 2/3rds, including a two-run HR to make the game look closer than it should have been.

On the other hand, the P-Nats bats went dead after the 4th – aside from Jakson Reetz, who doubled in the 5th and singled in the 7th for a 3-for-3 night. They would finish with just 10 hits, six less than Frederick.

The win improved Potomac to 8-15 in the second half and back to .500 overall (45-45) as they get Stephen Strasburg for another rehab outing this afternoon for Game Three of this four-game series.

Last Night in Woodbridge

It was just one bad inning, but it was enough for Potomac to lose, 3-0 to Winston-Salem.

Tyler Mapes, who’s trying to battle back from a season lost to injury, started off as you’d expect from a 26-y.o. veteran who features a sinking fastball: five straight retired, four on ground balls.

But then he hit a batter on a slurve that broke late and into the prosterior of Winston-Salem’s Zach Remillard.

The Dash then reeled off three straight singles, two of which the Potomac outfielders were less than quick to the ball and allowed runners to advance from first to third. Up 2-0, it looked like Mapes was going to help himself with a pickoff to second. But with the runner halfway between the bases, Mapes threw a lollipop into centerfield, allowing the third run to score easily.

Mapes was still rattled in the 3rd, giving up two singles, but a caught stealing and a whiff ended the threat. Just one more batter reached (a walk in the 5th) as Mapes notched the quality start with six innings pitched, three runs, five hits, two walks allowed, and four K’s.

If your pitchers give up three, you gotta score four, and the P-Nats bats fell as far short as possible with none, nada, nein, zip, zero, and zilch. Like the Dash, just two leadoff batters reached base all night, but for Potomac it was the same guy: Alec Keller with a double in the 6th, then a single in the 8th. He was erased both times as the P-Nats got just one baserunner to third the whole night, which was also the only time the P-Nats had the tying run at the plate.

With the loss, Potomac lost an opportunity to gain another game on Lynchburg and Salem, but still lead the Carolina League North by 2½ games. Tonight, the P-Nats switch from their oldest pitcher to their youngest as 22-y.o. Sterling Sharp takes the hill against Bernardo Shaw (also 22, but left-handed) for the Dash.

Last Night in Woodbridge

They could get ’em on. They could get ’em over. But they just couldn’t get ’em in.

The P-Nats rallied again in the 9th but for the second straight night, they fell short, 5-4 to the Red Sox.

Potomac’s 2017 bugaboo of giving up runs right off the bat is creeping back as well. Friday night it was a five-run 2nd. Last night it was single runs in the 1st and 2nd before a three-run 3rd to put them in a 5-0 hole.

The P-Nats loaded the bases in the 2nd, 7th, and 8th innings and stranded eight of their 14 runners left on base just in those three innings. Two walks and a hit batsman were enough to chose Red sox starter Bryan Mata with two outs in the 2nd but Blake Perkins’s flyball ended it.

Potomac did get single runs in the 3rd and 4th innings to get within shouting distance 5-2, thanks to RBI singles by Jake Noll (3rd) and Carter Kieboom (4th).

A double, walk, and an infield single did the trick in the 7th, but there was no rabbit in the hat as Ian Sagdal grounded into a 6B-3 DP to end the threat. In the next frame, a walk, single, and another infield hit got the tying run to the plate but neither Perkins (popup to short) nor Kieboom, who hit a grand slam on Friday night, could get the job done.

Juan Soto, who drilled a double over the head of the Salem CF in the 3rd, started the rally in the 9th with his second walk. Jake Noll singled to move him up 90 feet while Ian Sagdal’s safety to center scored the 19-y.o. phenom. Noll would be held at second for the next two batters as Jakson Reetz struck out and Rhett Wiseman flew out to right.

Bryan Mejia’s two-out single sent Noll home but Telmito Agustin, who’d had two hits already and scored the second run, fanned to end the game.

Kyle McGowin, who had been in storage on the Harrisburg DL since the beginning of these took the loss with all five runs allowed on four hits and three walks, though he did fan seven in his first outing of 2018. Five innings of near-perfect relief – nine up, nine down from Ronald Pena, a walk over two innings from Jordan Mills – went unrewarded.

Weather permitting, the series finale is this afternoon. Salem shoots for the sweep with southpaw Darwinzon Hernandez (2-1, 3.60) while Potomac counters with staff ace Wil Crowe (4-0, 3.25) to prevent it and reclaim a share of 1st place in the C.L. North.

Last Night in Woodbridge

Seven unanswered runs, zero hits with runners in scoring position, and just five hits was the combination for an 8-2 loss to Lynchburg – the second straight, which dropped Potomac into second place.

Sterling Sharp registered a quality start – three runs on six hits and two walks over six innings – but was flat for most of the night. He struck out just two batters, and none until one out in the 4th. While he was fairly efficient in terms of a pitch count (80 for 53), one gets the feeling that against a stronger offense (the Hillcats are still dead last in runs scored; Potomac is still 1st) he would have had much more trouble.

Potomac actually led this game briefly 2-1 after a pair of singles (Bryan Mejia, Telmito Agustin) and a walk (Blake Perkins) loaded the bases for Carter Kieboom. A grounder to short looked like a 6-4-3 DP in the making but Perkins broke it up with a hard slide into second to force an error and plate both Mejia and Agustin.

The lead would vanish in the 5th as the Potomac right fielder turned an out into a double that set up a two-run rally that enabled the Hillcats to plate two and take a 3-2 lead they would never relinquish.

Ten straight P-Nats batters would not reach base until Jake Noll beat out an infield single for the just the third Potomac hit to lead off the 7th. Hayden Howard, who took over for Sharp in the 7th, went an inning too far in the 8th as he was touched for three runs (two earned) on a two hits and a walk as Gabe “Sweet Spot” Klobosits gave up a single to the first batter he faced in the 8th to let in an inherited runner, then tow of his own in the 9th.

Potomac loaded the bases in the 8th with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate but an Austin Davidson popup followed by the 4-5-6 batters going 1-2-3 in the 9th (all by way of the K) ended the game.

The four-game series concludes on Sunday with a matinee featuring Joan Baez (0-1, 5.23) vs. Sam Hentges (2-0, 0.56).

Last Night in Woodbridge

On another cold and blustery night in Woodbridge, the P-Nats could not solve Justin Garza for five and 2/3rds innings and could not connect for the key hit late as the Hillcats evened the three-game series with a 5-3 win.

Errors were the name of this game, with six charged— four by Lynchburg, two Potomac—and arguably a couple more that probably should have been called (yeah, Rhett Wiseman, we’re looking at you). An error charged to Edwin Lora and a misplayed flyball by Wiseman (the first of two) led to two runs in the 1st that put Lynchubrg in the driver’s seat early.

Garza mowed down the first eight batters he faced before plunking Lora in the back with a breaking ball that ran inside. A stolen base and a throw into center field put Lora on third with less than two out, enabling Telmito Agustin to plate him with a sac fly. A walk to Perkins gave a brief glimmer of hope that Garza may have come unhinged but he got Carter Kieboom to pop out to end the 3rd.

Meanwhile, Matthew Crownover had his troubles as the defense let him down with earned (but not really) run in the 4th and an unearned run in the 5th put him behind 4-1 after five innings. He would go six innings and was charged with four runs (two earned) on six hits, no walks, and two whiffs, but would take the loss.

Garza left with a no-hitter with two outs in the 6th. An error, another HBP, and a Wiseman RBI single cut the lead to 4-2 but the tying runs were left on in 6th. Potomac would leave two more on again in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings – finishing with a total 12 and a mark of 2-for-11 with RISP.

The loss drops Potomac to 9-7, tied with Salem for 1st place and just a ½ game ahead of second-place Lynchburg. Game Three of the four-game series will feature Sterling Sharp (1-1, 4.73) vs. Jake Paulson (1-1, 2.89).

Last Night in Woodbridge

Losing teams like to think that it’s luck that puts them on the wrong side of a one-run loss. Winning teams know it’s that they did more of the little things right.

The P-Nats have been on that wrong side far more often than not, as they lost 3-2 to the Hillcats on Friday night – the 22nd one-run loss this season (vs. ten wins by that margin).

After giving up a run in the 3rd—the second and third with two outs of out eight total by Lynchburg—Potomac demonstrated this “little things” concept three times in the 5th.

A leadoff single could have been erased on a grounder to second, but Bryan Mejia dropped the ball and could only get the one out at first, allowing the lead runner to move into scoring position. That was the first little thing.

The second and third little thing came on the same play, two batters later with two outs. A single to center gave Victor Robles a chance to show off his arm, but he missed both the cutoff man and the plate while catcher Jakson Reetz merely moved to the right and not forward towards the ball, perhaps with the vain hope of being able to get the tag on a runner who was off on contact.

The two things combined enabled another runner to move into scoring position, and you’ve probably already guessed what happened next: another two-out single that led to another run. Combined, the three things led to at least one extra run and possibly two, had the dropped grounder been converted into a double play.

Down 3-0 instead of 2-0 or 1-0, Potomac made it close with two runs in the 6th and threatened again in the 8th after a Robles leadoff double and birthday boy (24) Jack Sundberg’s sacrifice but couldn’t push across the equalizer.

The loss went to Austen Williams, who gave up all three runs on eight hits and a walk over five innings. Ronald Pena, R.C. Orlan, and Dakota Bacus combined on four scoreless innings of relief to keep things close.

Game Three of the four-game series is tonight, with southpaw Taylor Guilbeau (2-2, 3.79) facing off against northpaw Brock Hartson (4-4, 3.23).

Last Night in Woodbridge

Grant Borne turned in seven strong innings while the offense delivered in the clutch as Potomac evened up the four-game series at one game apiece with a 4-1 win.

Borne, who will not be confused with Aroldis Chapman on the radar gun, kept the Blue rocks off balance by throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count. The 23-y.o. gave up just two hits: a infield single in the 3rd and a one-out double that converted the one walk he issued into Wilmington’s only run.

For four and half innings, though, Blue Rocks pitcher Jared Ruxer was Borne’s equal as the two hosted a Star Trek convention on the Pfitzner scoreboard with nine zeroes.

Potomac got on the board first as Edwin Lora singled with one out, stole second, and scored on Jack Sundberg’s two-out single. Austin Davidson delivered the second run with a single threaded between the left-field foul line and Wilmington’s third baseman, but ended the rally as he tripped and fell between first and second ande made it easy for the Blue rocks to end the inning on a 7-5-3 putout.

After Wilmington cut the lead in half in the top of the 6th, Potomac got the run back on leadoff walk and a two-out double by David Masters. The P-Nats extended the lead to 4-1 in the 7th with a pair of doubles by Rhett Wiseman and Davidson, who made it to second standing up.

Dakota Bacus was summoned to close out the game and the 26-y.o. veteran delivered with two perfect innings to earn the save, his third of the season.

Game three of the four-game series is this afternoon as Austen Williams makes his second return trip from Harrisburg in as many seasons. He’ll be opposed by Cristian Castillo (5-4, 2.84) for Wilmington.

Last Night in Woodbridge

Sometimes one bad inning is one too many. For Potomac, that bad inning came in the 1st in a 3-2 loss to Carolina.

The Mudcats jumped on starter Taylor Guilbeau for two hits and two errors that were ruled as hits to score three runs. Just one of the four balls was hit solidly, a double to left by the cleanup man Jake Gatewood.

Guilbeau settled down to retire 10 in a row before the benches cleared after Isan Diaz stepped in front of Matt Reistetter while he was throwing to third to celebrate the whiff. Punches were thrown, bullpens emptied, but no one was hurt and no one was knocked down. Surprisingly, only Diaz and Reistetter were ejected.

Monte Harrison also went down by way of the K for 11 straight before Trent Clark doubled. Carolina would threaten briefly in the 5th but Guilbeau stranded another runner at second and got through the 6th. He pitched well enough to win with a line of three runs on seven hits, no walks, and five K’s.

But Carolina’s Cody Ponce was just as good, if not better. His one bad inning came in the third, when a leadoff double ruled an error by David Masters, a Reistetter single to right, and a Jack Sundberg triple got Potomac within one at 3-2. He worked around two walks in the 4th with help from a L5-3 DP and then gave up a two-out single to Matt Page in the 6th.

Ponce was lifted with two outs in the 7th and the Mudcats relievers were just about lights out, giving up two singles and striking out five of the last seven batters, including in the side in the 9th.

With the loss, the P-Nats drop to 1-2 in the second half and will shoot for series split this afternoon. Luis Reyes (5-6, 4.75), who was torched for seven runs last Sunday by the Mudcats, gets the starting assignment.

Last Night in Woodbridge

If you’re charitable, you’d call the 1-0 win by the Wood Ducks a pitcher’s duel; if you’re cruel, you’d call it a battle of who could hit less.

The two teams combined for just 13 hits – eight of them with two outs, which probably more than anything else explains the low score.

Both teams had just one leadoff hit. Ian Sagdal got the first in the bottom of the 2nd and was picked off immediately. Jack Sundberg followed with another single and David Masters steered him over to third on a two-out hit-and-run that might have scored Sagdal.

Down East got its in the 3rd and the runner moved up 90′ twice on a pair of groundouts before the lone hit in scoring position: a double by Matt Lipka that was justbarelyfair on the left field warning track and drove in the game’s only run.

The sequence made a loser out of Grant Borne, who was not overpowering (two K’s) but very democratic (11 groundouts) over seven innings. He walked one and gave up six hits total. Jorge Pantoja and Gilberto Mendez both turned in a scoreless inning and allowed a bunt single while pitching the 8th and 9th innings respectively.

After the three-hit 3rd, the P-Nats reached base just twice more: a two-out single by Sundberg and a two-out double by Victor Robles, who managed not to get hit and made an outstanding play in the outfield to gun down* Arturo Lara trying for two, which in fairness, he probably would have gotten against just about any other centerfielder in the Carolina League.
* The doubts I had about his arm late last year have been erased; he’s much stronger and more accurate this season.

The loss, Potomac’s 34th, also eliminated them from the Carolina League North’s first-half division title race. Game Three of the four-game series is tonight with Hector Silvestre (5-2, 4.55) facing off against RHP Jonathan Hernandez (0-1, 17.18) for the Wood Ducks.

Last Night in Woodbridge

Thanks to three solo shots, Potomac took the series finale from Lynchburg, 3-1 and earned a series split.

Ian Sagdal got the home run binge started in the 2nd, the first of two long hits as he would also double in the 8th.

It gave starting pitcher Grant Borne an early 1-0 lead to work with. The 23-y.o. southpaw’s lone run came in the 4th when the leadoff batter struck out but reached on passed ball from a curveball that Jake Lowery got a glove on before it hit the ground but jai-alai’d to the backstop. It was nevertheless ruled as a wild pitch and after a steal of second, the Hillcats cashed in the extra out with a single to right to tie things at 1-1.

Borne worked around a single and a hit batsman in the 5th before retiring the side in the 6th. He was charged with one run on three hits and no walks while striking out six but got the no-decision.

Tyler Skulina, recently signed by the big club in lieu of promoting someone from Hagerstown, showed the rust of someone who hadn’t pitched since last September as he got two quick outs in the 7th, then walked the bases loaded before striking out the last batter. He would get the benefit of Rhett Wiseman’s upper-deck (of advertising) homer in the bottom half of the inning to give the P-Nats a 2-1 lead.

Skulina hit another batter and walked a fourth in the 8th but wound up the winning pitcher. Austin Davidson dialed long distance with two out in the 8th for the third and final run for the Woodbridge nine.

Gilberto Mendez, who was lit up for four runs in the fist game of the series, bounced back with a scoreless 9th to earn his sixth save.

Potomac heads north for four games in three days against Frederick as the two teams battle for fourth place in the Carolina League North. Hector Silvestre takes the hill against the tireless “TBD” for Frederick.