Last Night in Woodbridge

Three Potomac pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout and climbed out of the Carolina League North cellar with a 3-0 win over Lynchburg.

All four hits were given up by the starter Luis Reyes, who won for the first time in three starts and did not issue a walk for the first time this season. While he was not overpowering, he did strike out seven over six innings.

Reyes also got some help with some bad baserunning. In the 4th, he plunked Willi Castro, who stole second and inexplicably tried to advance to third on a flyball to medium left field. Jack Sundberg connected with Kelvin Gutierrez with the average throw that was necessary to make Castro pay for the mistake.

As the low score suggests, Hillcats preying mantis starting pitcher Triston McKenzie was nearly the equal of Reyes on the mound (on the scales? Well, let’s just say “Oil Can” Boyd would call him fat).

McKenzie’s one bad inning was a leadoff single to Gutierrez, followed by a walk to Ian Sagdal (the only one he gave up in 7IP), then a bunt single by Sundberg. Rhett Wiseman drove in Gutierrez with a sac fly for the early 1-0 lead.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the 8th when a walk, a single by Matt Page, and another HBP of you-know-who loaded the bases with one out. Austin Davidson whiffed but Taylor Gushue, team leader in RBI, worked the count full and drove in the two insurance runs to give the Potomac ‘pen some breathing room.

Kyle Schepel took the mound in the 9th after two strong innings by veteran Nolan Sanburn, who survived an error and a passed ball that put the tying run on third with nobody out with some help from Victor Robles (snagged a line to shallow center) and Davidson (gunned down the runner at the plate on a high tapper to second), and set the side down in order for his second save.

The four-game series/homestand concludes tonight with a matchup of LHP Grant Borne (1-1, 0.96)vs. RHP Shao-Ching Chiang (7-2, 2.70)

Saturday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 11-5 vs. Columbus,
7:05 p.m.
O’Sullivan (0-0, 0.00) vs.
Morimando (3-5, 5.24)
Harrisburg Lost, 4-0 @ Erie,
5:05 p.m.
Eitel (1-1, 3.55) and Self (0-0, 4.30) vs.
Jaye (0-4, 4.22) and Achter (0-0, 5.06)
Potomac Won, 3-0 vs. Lynchburg,
6:35 p.m.
Borne (1-1, 0.96) vs.
Chiang (7-2, 2.70)
Hagerstown Lost, 8-7
(10 inn.)
vs. Columbia,
7:05 p.m.
C. Pena (1-3, 4.87) vs.
H. Gonzalez (2-4, 5.19)

Columbus 11 Syracuse 5
• McGowin (L, 1-4) 5IP, 7H, 9R, 8ER, 6BB, 5K, HR
• Cotts 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Falu 2-4, 2B, RBI
• Snyder 1-4, R, HR, 3RBI
• Raburn 1-4, R, HR, RBI

Syracuse’s two-game winning streak ended as the Clippers sailed past the Chiefs with an 11-5 win. Kyle McGowin somehow made it through five innings, letting in nine runs on seven hits and six walks for his fourth loss. Brandon Snyder and Ryan Raburn both homered, accounting for four of the five Syracuse runs. Roster moves: RHP Mike Broadway released; RHP Wander Suero promoted from Harrisburg.

Erie 4 Harrisburg 0
• Hill (L, 1-1) 6IP, 4H, 4R, 2ER, 4BB, 1K, 0HR
• Robinson 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Marmolejos 1-3, BB
• Read 1-3, 3B

Two Seawolves pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout of the Senators, 4-0. Taylor Hill didn’t give up a homer but did give up four walks and four hits and all four Erie runs over six innings for the loss. Jose “Orange” Marmolejos was the sole Harrisburg batter to reach base twice, going 1-for-3 with a walk. Roster move: LHP Braulio Lara activated from the 3-Day TIL.

Potomac 3 Lynchburg 0
• Reyes 6IP, 4H, 0R, 0BB, 7K, HBP, WP
• Sanburn 2IP, 1H, R, ER, BB, K
• Gushue 2-4, 2RBI
• Gutierrez 2-4, R

Three P-Nats pitchers combined for a four-hit shutout, Last Night in Woodbridge. Roster move: RHP Tyler Skulina assigned from Washington.

Columbia 8 Hagerstown 7 (10 inn.)
• Bourque 6IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 4K
• Peterson (L, 0-1) 2IP, 3H, 4R, 1ER, IBB, 3K, HR
• Agustin 3-5, 2R, RBI, HBP
• La Bruna 2-3, R, BB, RBI, SAC
• Johnson 2-5, OF assist at 3B

Hagerstown coughed up three in the top of the 9th, got ’em back in the bottom half, and then gave it back in the 10th for a 8-7 loss. Starter James Bourque allowed three runs on four hits and a walk over six innings for a no-decision. The loss went to Tommy Peterson, who gave up three unearned runs in the 9th and one very earned run (HR) in the 10th. Telmito Agustin led the Suns’ hit column with 3-for-5 night, scoring twice, driving in a run, and getting hit by a pitch. Tim Tebow struck out four times, three times looking, to up his season total to 52 in 45 games.

Day Tripping the Nats Affiliates: Harrisburg

Part Four of Four from Guest/Author, Walt Triebel

By Walter Triebel, Author of
Road-Tripping the South Atlantic League:
A Guide to the Teams, Ballparks, and Cities

Available on Amazon

Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, is another home of a Minor League affiliate of the Washington Nationals that has a long, rich history of professional baseball. Today, the city hosts the Harrisburg Senators in the Eastern League, who are the double-A class member of the Nationals’ Minor League organization.

Professional baseball has been played in the city of Harrisburg since the early 1880s. Because Pennsylvania’s state legislature resides in the city, a natural moniker for the team has been the “Senators.” In fact, in the 130-plus year period since, a team called the Harrisburg Senators has played in the city during 68 seasons and as a member of six different baseball leagues.

Two thousand seventeen is the 31st consecutive season that a Harrisburg Senators team has played in the Eastern League. During that stretch, the Senators have been associated with three different Major League clubs: the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Montreal Expos, and the Washington Nationals. The Harrisburg Senators were Montreal’s double-A team in the Eastern League in 2004 when they relocated to Washington as the Nationals for the 2005 season. That transition caused a shakeup at some levels of their Minor League system, but not at the AA level as the Harrisburg Senators continued to fulfill that same role in the Washington Nationals Minor League organization.

The building of a new baseball stadium in Harrisburg ushered in the Eastern League era of professional baseball in the city. That ballpark was built on City Island in the Susquehanna River and originally named Riverside Stadium. The first Harrisburg Senators game was played at the ballpark on April 11, 1987. Over the years, the stadium has been renamed a few times, most recently prior to the 2016 season the naming rights were sold to the F.N.B. Corporation, parent company of First National Bank of Pennsylvania, and the ballpark took on its current name – FNB Field.

FNB Field is one of the most interesting and attractive ballparks among the Nats’ affiliates. Even through the stadium was originally built more than 30 years ago, it has undergone a number of renovations to keep it up to the standards of today’s top Minor League ballparks. For instance, it has a full 360-degree concourse that lets you walk fully around the periphery of the ball field. Along the concourse, you will find poles that are decorated with banners that honor former Senators’ players, such as Vladimir Guerrero, Cliff Lee, and Ryan Zimmerman, that have gone on to have successful careers at the Major League level.

A wide variety of traditional ballpark food is offered at the main concession area as well as specialty items at stands along the outfield part of the concourse, such as the Bud Light Lime-a-Rita Bar and Arooga’s Wing Shack. Moreover, there is a large children’s play area called the Kids Zone that is entered toward the outfield end of the first base concourse. On top of all that, one can walk up to the second level of the grandstand to a rear terrace area that offers a fabulous view of the city across the river.

But a visit to FNB Field is also about seeing the players. Just like for the Hagerstown Suns and Potomac Nationals, a number of the Washington Nationals 2017 MLB Top 30 Prospects began the season with the Harrisburg Senators. The table above lists four position players and one pitcher who are ranked as Washington top prospects and play for the Senators.

Three of the four position players were in Sens’ opening day starting lineup on April 7, 2016, which was a home game versus the Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh Pirates): Osvaldo Abreu (#15) at short and hitting second, Drew Ward (#12) at third and hitting third; and Raudy Read (#19) catching and hitting fifth. Finally, Erick Fedde, who finished out the 2016 season in the Senators starting rotation, made his first start in Game 2 of the season at FNB Field. Note from the table that all five of those top prospects played part or all of the 2016 season with the Potomac Nationals and were also members of the Hagerstown Suns roster during the 2014 or 2015 season.

Fans of the Harrisburg Senators, Hagerstown Suns, Potomac Nationals and Washington Nationals have the opportunity to see those five up and coming prospects playing double-A ball in the Eastern League in a game at FNB Field during the 2017 season. Senators fans in or around Harrisburg can simply attend a game or games on any day of the season that fits their plans.
Again, I will recommend a day or early evening game for Suns, P-Nats, and Washington Nationals fans traveling a distance to FNB Field. This should potentially allow them some pre- or postgame daylight time to explore the stadium and the local area.

A look at the Harrisburg Senators 2017 schedule on their official website shows that they typically play Sunday home games at 1:30PM. However, the Senators still have a few weekday day games on their calendar. Check the travel matrix provided in Part 1 of this post for an estimate of the travel distance and time to a Senators game at FNB Field.

Today, City Island has grown into an attractive and interesting leisure and sports complex that includes the Senators baseball stadium, a soccer stadium for the Harrisburg City Islanders soccer team, large riverside children’s play area, scenic walking trails, and much more. There is a pedestrian bridge, Walnut Street Bridge, which allows one to walk from City Island over the river to downtown Harrisburg at the corner of Walnut St. where it meets Riverfront Park.

Another plus is that FNB Field is conveniently located just minutes from the attractive downtown entertainment district of Harrisburg. The trip from City Island over the Market Street Bridge to the eastern shore of the Susquehanna River and the hub of downtown Harrisburg, the Restaurant Row/Entertainment District, is just a one-mile drive. The south end of Restaurant Row starts at the corner of Market St. and N. 2nd St.

As you travel/walk up 2nd to the north, you are sure to find any kind of restaurant you might wish. I have included a few places that I found interesting, for example McGrath’s Irish Pub, in the list below titled Restaurants In or Near Harrisburg. From the addresses in that list note that Restaurant Row bridges from N 2nd St. to N. 3rd St. and onto many of the cross streets, such as Locust St.

On the other hand, if you leave City Island and drive the other way across the Market Street Bridge, you arrive in Wormleysburg, PA on the western shore of the Susquehanna River. This is an interesting alternative for a pre or post-game lunch or dinner stop. The bridge takes you to S. Front St. in Wormleysburg which travels along the riverfront. Here you will find a number of very attractive waterfront restaurants with outdoor decks overlooking the river.

Attractions In Harrisburg
• City Island Family Attractions near the Ballpark, 245 Championship Way
     ‣ City Island railroad scenic train ride
     ‣ City Island carousel
     ‣ City Island stables
     ‣ City Island beach
     ‣ Amusement arcade
     ‣ Batting cages
• The Pride of the Susquehanna Riverboat Sightseeing Cruise, 11 Championship Way
• Walnut Street Bridge (pedestrian walkway/bike path), 245 Championship Way
• Riverfront Park, 701 N. Front St.
• Restaurant Row/Entertainment District, N. 2nd St., between Market St. and State St.
• Broad Street Market, 1233 N. 3rd St.

Dining In or Near Harrisburg
• McGrath’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, 202 Locust St., Harrisburg
• Café Fresco, 215 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg
• Sawyers, 210 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg
• Arooga’s Draft House & Sports Bar, 201 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg
• Palumbo’s Italian Eatery, 104 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg
• Au Bon Lieu Bistro, 1 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg
• Duke’s Bar & Grille, 313 S. Front St., Wormleysburg
• Dockside Willies, 449 S. Front St., Wormleysburg

That completes my review of the ballparks, towns, and top prospects of the three Washington Nationals Minor League clubs that are located within an easy day-trip drive of each other and from downtown Washington, DC. Now it’s time for you to set out on the trail of the Washington Nationals Minor League Baseball Road Trip adventure.

Friday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Won, 8-4 vs. Columbus,
7:05 p.m.
McGowin (1-3, 4.85) vs.
Plutko (3-6, 6.50)
Harrisburg Won, 1-0 @ Erie,
7:05 p.m.
Hill (1-0, 8.04) vs.
Ladwig (1-1, 6.11)
Potomac Lost, 3-1 vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Reyes (3-5, 5.10) vs.
McKenzie (3-2, 2.84)
Hagerstown Won, 3-2 vs. Columbia,
7:05 p.m.
Bourque (1-3, 4.87) vs.
Taylor (0-6, 4.36)

Syracuse 8 Charlotte 4
• Cole (W, 2-2) 6IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 3K, HR
• Gott (S, 1) 1⅓ IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 3K, 2-0 IR-S, WP
• Severino 2-4
• Snyder 2-5, R, 2B, 3RBI
• Sanchez 2-5, 3R, 2B

A five-run 4th broke open a 2-2 game as the Chiefs won their second game in a row, 8-4 over Charlotte. A.J. Cole won his 22nd AAA game in his 60th AAA start with six innings pitched, three runs allowed on seven hits and three walks, and three whiffs. Trevor Gott stranded two while getting the last out in the 8th and Cordero’d through the ninth with three baserunners allowed before rolling a grounder to earn the save.

Harrisburg 1 New Hampshire 0
• Long (W, 5-4) 7IP, 5H, 0R, 3BB, 3K, HBP, WP
• Fedde (H, 2) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Suero (SV, 10) 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Ballou 1-3, R, HR, RBI
• Ward 1-3

Isaac Ballou’s HR to lead off the 5th was enough for Jaron Long and the Harrisburg bullpen to hold for a 1-0 shutout. Long gave up all five New Hampshire hits, hit a batter, and walked three over seven innings while notching his fifth win. Erick Fedde and Wander Suero both set the side down in order in the 8th and 9th innings for the hold and save, respectively. Drew Ward also singled while Stephen Perez and Neftali Soto each drew a walk to comprise the Sens’ two-hit, two-walk offense. Roster moves: RHP Austen Williams placed on the 7-Day DL; LHP Matt Crownover promoted from Potomac; 1B Jose Marmolejos optioned from Washington.

Potomac 3 Lynchburg 1
• Baez (L, 1-6) 3IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K, 2HBP, WP
• Rivera 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Sundberg 1-3, R, 2B
• Robles 1-3, BB, 2K, SB(10), CS(4), PO(2), OF assist at 3B

The Hillcats got two in the 1st and had a no-hitter through four as they took another one from the P-Nats, 3-1. Joan Baez lost his sixth game as he labored through three innings, letting in three runs (two earned) on three hits, two walks, and two plunks of Sicnarf Loopstok. Taylor Guilbeau and Mariano Rivera III combined for six scoreless innings relief. Jack Sundberg doubled while Victor Robles didn’t get hit by a pitch, walked, singled, stole a base, got caught stealing, and was picked off first. Potomac managed just five hits and three walks total while fanning ten times.

Hagerstown 3 Tim Tebow 2
• M. Mills (W, 5-2) 6IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, BB, 5K, HR
• J. Mills (SV, 4) 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 3K
• Johnson 2-4, R, 3B, HR, 2RBI
• Reetz 1-3, 2B

McKenzie Mills won his fifth game despite giving up two singles to a 29-y.o. publicity stunt as the Suns defeated the Fireflies, 3-2. The 21-y.o. Georgian gave up both Columbia runs and six hits, including a homer, while walking one and fanning five. Jordan Mills pitched three scoreless to earn his fourth save. Daniel Johnson, also 21, tripled and homered and drove in two to lead the Hagerstown offense.

Thursday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 12-5;
Won, 3-2
(8 inn.)
vs. Charlotte,
6:35 p.m.
Cole (1-2, 6.03) vs.
Danish (1-3, 3.15)
Harrisburg Lost, 6-3;
Lost, 5-4
vs. New Hampshire,
7:00 p.m.
Long (4-4, 2.65) vs.
Dawson (1-5, 6.16)
Potomac Lost, 8-7 vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Baez (1-5, 5.03) vs.
Civale (Hi-A Debut)
Hagerstown Lost, 10-6 vs. Columbia,
7:05 p.m.
Does it matter?
Tim Tebow’s going to be there

Charlotte 12 Syracuse 5 – GAME ONE
• Voth (L, 1-6) 5IP, 8H, 8R, 8ER, 3BB, 3K, 2HR
• Snyder 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 0K
• Robinson 3-4, 3R, 2B, HR, RBI
• Skole 2-4, R, HR, 3RBI
• Ramsey 2-3, R

Charlotte jumped on Austin Voth for five in the 1st and cruised to 12-5 win over Syracuse in the opener. Voth gutted out five innings but was disemboweled for eight runs total on eight hits, including two homers. He walked three and struck out three. Brandon Snyder was the Chiefs’ most effective reliever, coming off third base for a scoreless inning in the 7th. Clint Robinson and Matt Skole both homered in the loss. combining for four runs scored and four RBI.

Syracuse 3 Charlotte 2 – GAME TWO
• Antolin 4IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 5K
• Martin (W, 1-0) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• Butler 2-4, R, 2B, RBI
• Snyder 1-3, R, 2B, BB

Andrew Stevenson’s eighth-inning single walked off the Knights as the Chiefs split the doubleheader with a 3-2 win in “extras.” Dustin Antolin got the sport start and gave up both Charlotte runs on two hits and two walks while fanning five in four innings pitched. The win went to Rafael Martin who struck out four in two perfect innings of relief. Joey Butler led the Syracuse hit column with a 2-for-4 effort with a run scored and a run driven in. Roster moves: RHP Gabriel Arias placed on the 7-Day DL; 1B-3B Matt Skole activated from the 7-Day DL; RHP Joe Nathan released.

New Hampshire 6 Harrisburg 3 – GAME ONE
• Williams (L, 1-6) 6IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 3K, WP
• Read 2-3
• Perez 1-3, R, HR, 2RBI

A four-run 4th by New Hampshire erased an early 1-0 lead as Harrisburg was doubled up, 6-3 in the opener. Austen Williams lost for the sixth time in nine starts with the aforementioned four runs let in on seven hits over six innings. He walked none and struck out three. Raudy Read singled twice, Neftali Soto walked twice, and Stephen Perez drove in two as the Sens were held to six hits total.

New Hampshire 5 Harrisburg 4 – GAME TWO
• Simms (L, 2-3) 4⅓ IP, 9H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 5K, HR, WP
• Valdez 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 1K, 1-0 IR-S
• Marmolejos 2-2, 2R, 2B, 3B, 2BB, RBI
• Ward 2-4, 2RBI

Drew Ward’s two-run single in the last of the 7th brought the Senators within a run but the game ended on a foul pop and the winning run on third in 5-4 loss to the Fisher Cats. John Simms was knocked around for all five New Hampshire runs on nine hits and two walks over four and 2/3rds. Phillips Valdez and Jimmy Cordero combined for two and 1/3rd scoreless innings of relief to keep things close. Jose “Orange” Marmolejos doubled, tripled, and walked twice on what appears to be his last day of MLB rehab. Roster move: OF Yadiel Hernandez placed on the 3-Day TIL.

Lynchburg 8 Potomac 7
• Estevez 6IP, 3H, R, ER, 2BB, 2K
• Mendez (BS, 1; L, 1-1) 1IP, 3H, 4R, 4ER, BB, 0K, HR
• Sundberg 2-3, 3R, BB
• Robles 2-4, R, 2-2B, RBI, HBP
• Gutierrez 2-4, 2R, RBI

Wirkin “For the Weekend” left after six innings and a 2-1 lead. The pitcher’s duel devolved into a bullfight, with Lynchburg’s matadors relievers waving in fewer than Potomac’s for an 8-7 win. Jorge Pantoja, Ronald Pena, and Gilberto Mendez each pitching a single inning and combined for seven runs allowed on eight hits, including a solo HR (Pena) and an Earl Weaver special (Mendez) with the loss going to Mendez. The P-Nats answered each late-inning rally and got the tying and winning runs in scoring position with one out in the 9th before Kelvin Gutierrez was caught looking and Ian Sagdal flew out.

Delmarva 10 Hagerstown 6
• Bogucki 5IP, 4H, 2R, 1ER, 1BB, 3K, WP
• Held (BS, 2; L, 1-3) 1IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 0K, HR, WP
• La Bruna 2-2, R, BB, RBI
• Agustin 2-4, R, 2B, SB
• Corredor 1-2, R, 2B, 3BB

SSDL, as the Suns ‘pen was scorched for eight runs over the final four innings as the Shorebirds turned a 5-2 deficit into a 10-6 victory. A.J. Bogucki spun five innings of two-run ball on four hits and a walk over five innings. Sam Held blew his second save and lost for the third time with a four-run, five-hit shellacking in a single inning. Blake Perkins was the beer man as Hagerstown pounded out ten hits and drew five walks, with Aldrem Corredor leading the charge with three walks and a double. Roster moves: IF Sheldon Neuse placed on the 7-Day DL, retroactive to May 29; IF Paul Panaccione reassigned from Auburn.

Wednesday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Postponed vs. Charlotte,
5:05 p.m.
Voth (1-5, 4.89) and
Cole (1-2, 6.03) vs.
Giolito (2-5, 5.44) and
Lopez (5-2, 4.08)
Harrisburg Postponed vs. New Hampshire,
5:30 p.m.
Williams (1-5, 7.17) and
Simms (2-2, 3.44) vs.
Greene (1-4, 3.96) and
Dawson (1-5, 6.16)
Potomac OFF DAY vs. Lynchburg,
7:05 p.m.
Estevez (3-3, 4.66) vs.
Hartson (2-1, 2.93)
Hagerstown Won, 3-1 vs. Hagerstown,
7:05 p.m.
Bogucki (0-0, 4.15)vs.
Peluffo (3-1, 1.91)

Syracuse vs. Charlotte – PPD
They pulled the plug on this one several hours early due to wet grounds at the Chiefs’ home field in Syracuse. They’ll shoot make it up with a doubleheader tonight.

Harrisburg vs. New Hampshire – PPD
Rain washed away the opener between Harrisburg and New Hampshire. The makeup is scheduled for today with a doubleheader.
Roster move: IF Corban Joseph reassigned from Syracuse.

Potomac – OFF DAY
After a scheduled day off yesterday, the P-Nats have a chance to win back-to-back games for the first time in nearly three weeks as they open up a four-game series and homestand against the Hillcats.

Hagerstown 3 Delmarva 1
• Watson 6IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 4K, HBP
• Howard (W, 3-0) 3IP, 0H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 3K
• Noll 1-3, BB, 2RBI
• Johnson 1-3, R, BB

Hagerstown broke up the Star Trek convention on the Municipal Stadium scoreboard with a three-spot in the bottom of the 8th then got out of its own way in the 9th for a 3-1 win over the Shorebirds. Suns starter Tyler Watson was lifted after 69 pitches and six scoreless innings. He gave up three hits and hit a batter while striking out four. Hayden Howard got the win with three hitless innings but walked two and let in an unearned run in the 9th (courtesy of a throwing error). The Suns managed just five hits but were walked seven times, with Jake Noll, Blake Perkins, and Daniel Johnson each reaching base twice. Roster moves: OF Telmito Agustin demoted from Potomac; OF Oliver Ortiz reassigned to XST.

Day Tripping the Nats Affiliates: Woodbridge

Part Three of Four from Guest/Author, Walt Triebel

By Walter Triebel, Author of
Road-Tripping the South Atlantic League:
A Guide to the Teams, Ballparks, and Cities

Available on Amazon

Unlike most of the current Washington Nationals Minor League affiliates, Woodbridge, Virginia, home of their Potomac National advanced A class team in the Carolina League, does not have a long history of professional baseball. In fact, the first season in which a Minor League club played in Woodbridge was 1984. Prior to that season, the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to relocate their current Carolina League team, the Alexandria Dukes, approximately twenty miles south to the city. A new stadium was built, which was originally called Davis Ford Park, and ready in time for the debut of the Pirates new club—the Prince William Pirates—in their home opening day game of the 1984 Carolina League season.

Since 1984, five different teams have played in the city—the Prince William Pirates, Prince William Yankees, Prince William Cannons, Potomac Cannons, and Potomac Nationals—and all have been members of the Carolina League. Moreover, they have been affiliated with six different Major League clubs: Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, and the Washington Nationals.

When the Montreal Expos were relocated after the 2004 season, the team was renamed the Washington Nationals and set up shop at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, DC. As part of that transition, the Nationals changed leagues and/or renamed a number of their affiliates, including switching their High-A club from the Florida State League to the Carolina league to become the Potomac Nationals. Two thousand seventeen is the thirteenth consecutive season that the P-Nats, as they are known to local fans, have been affiliated with the Washington Nationals.

Over the years the name of the stadium also evolved. It was renamed Prince William County Stadium in 1986 and took on its current name G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in 1995. The ballpark is referred to by locals as “The Pfitz.”

The main seating area of G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium, which is a very simple styled ballpark, is located behind the infield diamond and ranges from dugout to dugout. A narrow walkway traverses this seating section and separates the field-level box seats from a reserved seats section that rises upward from the walkway. A photo of the ball field as seen from the upper section of seats behind home plate is shown above.

Food concessions are located on a small covered concourse that is located behind this main infield seating area. Moreover, there are additional food services, picnic tables, and the team store in an open-air courtyard just inside the entrance gate of the stadium.

Since 2005, a number of players have made a stop in Woodbridge to play for the P-Nats and then advanced to make their Major League debut with Washington or another Major League club. While at the ballpark, check out the Potomac Nationals Wall of Fame in the covered concession area with pictures that honor former Washington Nationals prospects, including Drew Storen, Derek Norris, Steven Strasburg, and Bryce Harper, who played at The Pfitz and later made the jump to the majors.

As mentioned in Parts 1 and 2 of this post, a key goal of the Washington Nationals Minor League Baseball Road Trip is to see some of their 2017 top 30 prospects in action on the ball field at The Pfitz. The table above lists the five Nats 2017 MLB Top 30 Prospects who began the season as members of the Potomac Nationals.

On the 2017 opening day, which was an away game versus the Wilmington Blue Rocks, all four field players were in their starting lineup: Victor Robles (#) in center field and batting leadoff, Kelvin Gutierrez (#16) at third base and hitting cleanup, Edwin Lora (#28) played shortstop and hit eighth, and Telmito Agustin (#26) in left and batting ninth. On the other hand, Joan Baez (#24) made his debut in the P-Nats uniform as their starting pitcher in Game 4 of the new season, an away game versus the Frederick Keys.

As usual for fans of the Suns, Senators, and Washington Nationals, who need to travel a good distance to the ballpark, I recommend attending a day or early evening game. This would potentially allow some pre- or postgame daylight time to explore the stadium and local area. A check of the Potomac Nationals 2017 schedule on their official website shows that they play all of their Sunday home games at 1:05PM and they have one weekday game at 12:05PM in both July and August. Check the travel matrix in Part 1 for an estimate of the travel distance and time for your day trip to the Pfitz.

The city of Woodbridge is located in the northeast corner of Prince William County, at a point where the Occoquan River meets the Potomac River. The P-Nats ballpark is located just six miles and approximately a 15-minute drive from a very interesting historic riverfront villag – Occoquan, VA. I feel that this quaint waterfront village is a “don’t miss” destination on any visit to attend a Potomac Nationals game.

This former mill village is quite small and an ideal destination for a fun side trip. Just park and enjoy walking around the attractive village; exploring some of its interesting specialty, craft, and antique shops, and maybe having lunch or a snack at a riverfront restaurant or cafe.

Attractions Near Woodbridge
• Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, 14050 Dawson Beach Rd., Woodbridge, VA
• Historic Occoquan Village Visitors Center, 200 Mill St., Occoquan, VA

Dining In or Near Woodbridge
• Ornery Beer Company & Public House, 14389 Potomac Mills Rd., Woodbridge, VA
• Bungalow Alehouse, 2840 Prince William Pkwy., Woodbridge, VA
• The Electric Palm Restaurant, 12745 Sea Ray Ln., Woodbridge, VA
• Frostie Moose Soft Ice Cream Store, 12581 Milstead Way, Woodbridge, VA
• Madigan’s Waterfront Restaurant, 201 Mill St., Occoquan, VA
• Cock and Bowl Belgian Bistro, 302 Poplar Alley, Occoquan, VA
• The Virginia Grill, 301 Mill St., Occoquan, VA
• The Blue Arbor Café, 201 Union St., Occoquan, VA
• The Secret Garden Café, 404 Mill St., Occoquan VA

In the fourth and final part of this post, I will look at the Harrisburg Senators and their stadium FNB Field. Also, I will review the Washington Nationals 2017 Top 30 Prospects on the Senators’ current roster and suggest some travel plans for attending a Senators home game as well as attractions and eateries in or near Harrisburg, PA.

Tuesday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 4-3
(10 inn.)
vs. Charlotte,
6:35 p.m.
Voth (1-5, 4.89) vs.
Giolito (2-5, 5.44)
Harrisburg Won, 1-0 vs. New Hampshire,
6:30 p.m.
Williams (1-5, 7.17) vs.
Greene (1-4, 3.96)
Potomac Won, 3-2 OFF DAY N/A
Hagerstown Lost, 8-4 vs. Hagerstown,
7:05 p.m.
Watson (4-1, 3.42) vs.
Dietz (0-4, 5.62)

Gwinnett 4 Syracuse 3 (10 inn.)
• G. Ross 7IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 3K, 2WP; 1-2, RBI
• Cotts (L, 1-2) 1+ IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 2K
• Martin 1BF, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 0K, 3-1 IR-S
• Robinson 2-4, 2B, 2RBI
• Raburn 2-4

Syracuse delayed the inevitable with a run in the 9th but gave it right back in the bottom of the 10th for a 4-3 loss and a four-game sweep. Starter Greg Ross did his part with three runs let in on seven hits and three walks over seven innings and an RBI single at the plate. Neal Cotts took the loss with an assist from Rafael Martin, who let in the gamewinner with a single allowed to the first and only batter he faced. Clint Robinson went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI while Andrew Stevenson got the sole hit by the three Chiefs batters under the age of 30. Roster move: LHP Matt Grace optioned from Washington.

Harrisburg 1 Richmond 0
• Eitel (W, 1-1) 6IP, 1H, 0R, BB, 6K, HBP
• Robinson (H, 1) 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• N. Soto 1-3, 2B
• Hernandez 1-1, RBI

Four Senators pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout of the Flying Squirrels, 1-0. Derek Eitel picked up the win with six innings pitched, one hit and one walk allowed, and six whiffs. The save went to Wander Suero, who worked around two walks in the 9th, while R.C. Orlan and Andrew Robinson both turned in a goose egg to earn a hold. Yadiel Hernandez’s 6th-inning pinch-hit single plated Alec Keller for the game’s only run. Roster move: OF Chris Heisey assigned from Washington for MLB rehab.

Potomac 3 Wilmington 2
• Silvestre (W, 5-1) 6IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 1K
• Mendez (SV, 5) 1⅔ IP, 0H, 0R, BB, 1K, 3=1 IR-
• Robles 1-3, R, HR, 2RBI, 2BB
• Davidson 2-4, 2B, BB, RBI

Potomac’s three-run 5th was enough for the pitchers to work with as they edged Wilmington, 3-2 in the series finale. Hector Silvestre got his 5th “W” with six-plus innings of one-run ball on four hits and four walks while setting down one (1) on strikes. Gilberto Mendez got the last five outs for his fifth save. Victor Robles homered for the 6th time, drove in two, and walked twice while Austin Davidson walked, singled, and doubled while driving in the final Potomac run.

Delmarva 8 Hagerstown 4
• Pena (L, 3-3) 1⅔ IP, 3H, 4R, 1ER, 3BB, 2K, HBP
• VanVossen 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Noll 3-4, R, 2-2B, BB
• Perkins 2-5, 2RBI

The Shorebirds scored in each of the first four innings as they doubled up the Suns in the series opener, 8-4. Carlos Pena was chased after an inning and 2/3rds, charged with four runs (one earned) on three hits and three walks as he lost for the third time. Jake Noll reached base four times with a single, walk, and two doubles to lead the Hagerstown offense.

Monday’s News & Notes

Click the image above to learn the difference between Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day
Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-1 @ Gwinnett,
1:05 p.m.
G. Ross (2-3, 6.97) vs.
Weigel (1-1, 7.71)
Harrisburg Lost, 3-2 vs. Richmond,
12:00 p.m.
Eitel (0-1, 6.75) vs.
Coonrod (1-5, 4.76)
Potomac Lost, 4-3 @ Wilmington,
12:05 p.m.
Silvestre (4-1, 4.66) vs.
Castillo (3-2, 2.61)
Hagerstown Won, 7-2 vs Hagerstown,
7:05 p.m.
C. Pena (3-2, 6.39) vs.
Muckenhirn (1-5, 4.66)

Gwinnett 6 Syracuse 1
• O’Sullivan 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 1K
• Satterwhite (L, 0-2) 3IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 2K, HR
• Falu 2-4
• Solano 0-1, 3BB

The Chiefs broke up the shutout bid early to take a 1-0 lead but allowed six unanswered runs to drop a 6-1 decision to the Braves. The newest Syracuse pitcher tossed three scoreless innings before giving way to Cody Satterwhite, who gave up a run in each his three innings thrown. Irving Falu singled twice while Jhonatan Solano walked three times but the rest of the Syracuse lineup was just 2-for-27 with a walk. Roster move: RHP Sean O’Sullivan assigned from Washington.

Richmond 3 Harrisburg 2
• Hill 6⅔ IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 3K, HR, HBP
• Brinley (L, 3-3) 2IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 2K, HR
• Read 2-4, R, 2B
• Abreu 1-3, 2B, BB, E(8)

Richmond answered Harrisburg’s rally to tie in the bottom of the 7th with a solo HR in the 8th to win it, 3-2. Taylor Hill got the start and only let one ball leave the yard as he allowed two runs on seven hits over six and 2/3rds innings, with a big assist from Jimmy Cordero, who stranded three while getting the last out of the 7th. Ryan Brinley took the loss with the aforementioned HR allowed over the final two innings. Raudy Read singled, doubled, and scored a run while Osvaldo Abreu walked and doubled as the Sens were held to six hits total.

Wilmington 4 Potomac 3
• Crownover 5⅔ IP, 7H, 0R, BB, 6K
• Rivera (H, 1) ⅓+ IP, 2H, 3R, 3ER, BB, 0K
• Schepel (BS, 2; L, 1-1) 2IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 3K, 3-3 IR-S
• Robles 2-4, R, RBI, SB
• Gushue 2-3, BB

The wheels came off the bus in the 7th as the Blue Rocks scored all four of its runs in a 4-3 win over the P-Nats. Matthew Crownover started and tossed five and 2/3rds scoreless, scattering seven hits, walking one, and fanning seven. Mariano Rivera III got the last out of the 6th, but put on three straight in the 7th before turning the ball over to Kyle Schepel who gave up three straight singles to empty the bases and let in one of his own for the loss. Victor Robles stayed upright except for his 9th steal and singled twice as did Taylor Gushue (minus the steal, natch) to lead the Potomac offense.

Hagerstown 7 West Virginia 2
• Bourque (W, 1-3) 6IP, 4H, R, ER, 0BB, 7K
• Fuentes 2⅔ IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 1K
• Perkins 2-5, 2R, HR, 2RBI, SB
• Corredor 2-4, R, 2RBI, HBP
• Johnson 2-5, R, 2B

Hagerstown scored five times in three innings to take an early 5-1 lead and cruised to a 7-2 win over West Virginia. James Bourque won his first game with six innings of one-run ball on four hits with no walks and seven K’s. Steven Fuentes nearly closed it out with two and 2/3rds innings pitched before the Power got to him for an unearned run in the 9th. Table-setters Blake Perkins and Aldrem Corredor scored three times and combined for four hits and four RBIs to lead the Suns’ 11-hit parade.

Sunday’s News & Notes

Team Yesterday Today Probable Pitchers
Syracuse Lost, 6-4 @ Gwinnett,
1:05 p.m.
TBD vs. Newcomb (2-2, 3.09)
Harrisburg Lost, 8-4 vs. Richmond,
6:30 p.m.
Hill (1-0, 12.00) vs.
Suarez (3-3, 3.09)
Potomac Lost,7-6 @ Wilmington,
6:05 p.m.
Crownover (3-1, 2.21) vs.
Puckett (5-3, 3.54)
Hagerstown Won, 3-1 @ West Virginia,
2:05 p.m.
Bourque (0-3, 5.45) vs.
Anderson (3-2, 3.23)

Gwinnett 6 Syracuse 4
• McGowin 5+ IP, 7H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 1K, 2HBP
• Snyder 4-4, 3R, 2-2B, CS
• Robinson 2-4, RBI

Brandon Snyder went 4-for-4 and scored three times but it wasn’t enough to prevent another Syracuse loss, 6-4 to Gwinnett. Kyle McGowin lost for the third time in six starts as he failed to retire the three batters he faced in the 6th and was charged with four runs on seven hits and two walks over five-plus innings. Snyder singled twice and doubled twice and scored three times to lead the Chiefs’ offense. Roster move: OF Ryan Raburn assigned from Washington.

Richmond 8 Harrisburg 4
• Long 6IP, 2H, R, ER, BB, 6K, HR
• Fedde (H, 1) 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0BB, 4K
• N. Soto 3-5, 2R, 2B, HR, 2RBI
• Read 1-3, 2BB, RBI

Folks who left after the 8th may be shocked to learn the Senators blew a 4-1 lead; readers here, not so much. Three relievers combined for seven runs coughed up on four hits (no homers), three walks, a hit batsman, and a passed ball in the 8-4 loss. The incineration ruined a quality start by Jaron Long and Erick Fedde’s first career hold. Neftali Soto was a triple shy of the cycle and drove in two to lead the Harrisburg attack.

Wilmington 7 Potomac 6
• Reyes 5IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 8K, HR
• R. Pena (BS, 1; L, 2-2) 1+ IP, 2H, 2R, 1ER, 0BB, 1K, 1-1 IR-S
• Sagdal 2-4, R, HR(GS), 4RBI
• Gutierrez 0-1, 3R, 3BB

Ian Sagdal’s grand slam went to waste as the Potomac bullpen melted down in the 8th to turn a 6-4 lead into a 7-6 loss. Luis Reyes labored through five innings (92 pitches) and was charged with three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks. He struck out eight. Ronald Pena took the loss with his first blown save and three runs let in (two of his own) on two hits and an error. Kelvin Gutierrez walked three times and scored three times as the P-Nats collected seven hits total.

Hagerstown 3 West Virginia 1
• M. Mills 6IP, 3H, R, ER, BB, 6K, HR, HBP
• Simonds (W, 3-0) 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 2K
• Franco 2-4, R
• Reetz 2-4, RBI

The Suns scored single runs in the 8th and 9th innings as they shorted the Power, 3-1. McKenzie Mills gave up a solo home run in the 3rd and three hits total in a six-inning no-decision. He walked one and struck out six. the win went to Kyle Simonds for two perfect innings of relief. Sam Held did with a 1-2-3 ninth and his first save. Anderson Franco and Jackson Reetz both went 2-for-4 to lead Hagerstown’s 11-hit parade. Roster move: RHP Mick VanVossen activated from the 7-day DL; RHP Sterling Sharp placed on the 3-Day TIL.