Washington Nationals Minor League Notebook August 5

Photo provided by Abram Fox

From staff and wire reports:

Syracuse (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs dropped the opening game of a weekend series to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 5-1, Friday night at PNC Field. Luis Cessa stuck out 11 for the RailRiders, a season-high for an opposing starter against the Chiefs. Ike Davis drove in four of the five runs for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with two home runs. Brian Goodwin homered and Paolo Espino struck out nine for the Chiefs in the loss.

Syracuse (51-62) started the scoring in the first inning. Goodwin hit a one-out pitch over the right-field wall for his team-leading 62nd RBI and a 1-0 lead.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (70-43) immediately answered in the bottom of the frame. Ben Gamel led off against Espino and singled. Clint Frazier then doubled for his first Triple-A RBI. After a strikeout, Davis homered to deep right center to give the RailRiders a 3-1 lead.

Davis brought home his third run in the fifth. Gamel doubled, stole third, and scored on Davis’ two-out single for a 4-1 RailRiders lead.

In the eighth, Davis finished off his big night with a homer off Erik Davis to dead center field for his fourth RBI and a 5-1 lead. 

The Chiefs and RailRiders return to PNC Field Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Lucas Giolito is scheduled to start for Syracuse opposite Brady Lail for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Harrisburg (AA Eastern): The Harrisburg Senators used a big four-run inning that was more than enough as Mark Blackmar and Justin DeFratus combined for the 5-0 shutout over the visiting Trenton Thunder in front of 5,863 fans at FNB Field. It was the tenth shutout of the season for the Senators’ pitching staff.

 The Senators (61-51) began their third inning rally with a leadoff walk by Spencer Kieboom. The catcher moved up to third with heads up base running on a flare into shallow right from Adrian Sanchez. Rafael Bautista followed with a chopper off home plate that he beat out for a single and scored Kieboom for the Senators’ first run. Andrew Stevenson delivered the big blow in the inning with a triple down the right field line to score two. The speedy outfielder scored on a sacrifice fly from Isaac Ballou to give the Senators a four-run lead they would never relinquish.

Blackmar (3-1) dealt with traffic in five of his seven innings, but worked out of trouble each time. The 24-year-old right-hander scattered six hits and a walk while striking out four on an efficient 78 pitches.

Justin DeFratus worked two scoreless to secure the victory as only one batter reached base via a walk.

The Senators tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning as Adrian Sanchez delivered the RBI single to score Stephen Perez and push the advantage to 5-0.

The Senators and Thunder continue their weekend series with a 6:00 p.m. game on Saturday evening. Two of the best pitchers in the Eastern League square off as Tyler Mapes gets the ball for Harrisburg against Chance Adams.

Potomac (High-A Carolina League): Behind arguably the best start from a starting pitcher this season, the Potomac Nationals (62-48, 28-14) picked up a 2-1 victory over the Wilmington Blue Rocks (40-70, 13-28) Friday night at Pfitzner Stadium. RHP Erick Fedde (W, 6-4) struck out a career high 10 over seven innings. The righty allowed just one run, unearned, and has allowed just four earned runs over his last 57.2 innings.

Opposite Fedde, RHP Zach Lovvorn (L, 2-13) was nearly as good as the Potomac starter, but once again, barely got any run support. Lovvorn started the night with a tough first inning, settled in, and retired the final eight men that he faced. LF Alec Keller led off the first inning with a single and moved to third base on a single by SS Osvaldo Abreu. With 2B Max Schrock at the plate, Lovvorn unleashed a wild pitch, which plated Keller and put Potomac ahead 1-0. Schrock singled, which put runners back at the corners, but the P-Nats failed to capitalize.

The Blue Rocks plated their lone run against Fedde in the second inning, and needed an error to do such, as they tied the game at one. Like the righty did in each of his seven innings on the night, Fedde retired the first two men in the inning. C Chad Johnson doubled off of the left field wall, while 2B Brian Bien reached on an infield single to 1B Matt Page. Page’s throw to Fedde covering the first base bag went into the Potomac dugout, as Johnson scored from second base on Page’s throwing error.

Page made up for his error two innings later, as he hit a two-out solo home run off of Lovvorn in the bottom of the fourth inning. Lovvorn gave up only seven hits, but Page’s home run proved to be the difference in the game. The right-handed starter allowed a triple to CF Dale Carey in the fifth, but retired the next eight Potomac hitters. In relief of the righty, RHP Todd Eaton allowed two hits in a scoreless eighth inning.

Out of the Potomac bullpen, LHP RC Orlan allowed a double to LF Anderson Miller, but stranded the tying runner at third base, as he struck out CF Brandon Downes. RHP Ryan Brinley (SV, 12) worked a perfect ninth inning and is now second in the Carolina League in saves. Wilmington went just 1-5 with RISP and is now 2-17 with RISP in the series and has left on a combined 18 runners in two losses. The P-Nats are now a season high 14 games over .500.

Looking for a fourth straight win, Potomac will send LHP Matthew Crownover (2-4, 4.79) to the hill. Crownover enters off of his best start of the season, as the lefty allowed only one run over seven innings in a victory over the Carolina Mudcats on July 31st. For the Blue Rocks, RHP Corey Ray (6-5, 5.21) is set to take the mound. Ray picked up a victory over Potomac on July 4th, as the righty allowed just one run over 7.2 innings. First pitch Saturday night is set for 6:35pm.

Hagerstown (Low-A South Atlantic): This summer has been unkind to Suns pitcher Jefry Rodriguez.

But on Friday night, the 23-year-old right-hander recaptured the form that he flashed earlier this season in a 3-1 South Atlantic League win at the Lakewood BlueClaws.
Rodriguez fired 5 1/3 innings of three-hit ball. He didn’t get the win, but he did put his season back on course.
Before the calendar turned to summer, Rodriguez had a 6-2 record and an ERA of 3.13. But over his seven summer starts entering Friday, he had gone 1-6 and given up 33 earned runs in 29 1/3 innings.
With the win, Hagerstown (68-43, 25-16) remained in first place in the second-half standings in the SAL’s Northern Division. Greensboro (61-49, 23-17) is 1 1/2 game behind.
Greensboro trailed Kannapolis 4-1 in the fifth inning when its game was suspended on Friday night. It will be completed on Saturday.
Rodriguez was locked in a scoreless duel with Lakewood starter Harold Arauz, who pitched five innings of two-hit ball.
The Suns got all the runs they needed in the seventh inning off reliever Grant Dyer (0-2) as Edwin Lora hit a clutch, two-out double which scored Rhett Wiseman and Grant DeBruin who had reached on walks.
Hagerstown got an insurance run in the ninth as Wiseman led off with a double, advanced to third on a fly by DeBruin and scored on a single by Jakson Reetz.
The runs made a winner out of Suns reliever Jorge Pantoja (9-1) who poached another victory thanks to the Suns’ ability to produce in the late innings.
Pantoja was clutch in the sixth inning. Entering with two runners aboard and one out, Pantoja fanned the first two batters he faced to escape the jam.
Mariano Rivera gave up a run in the ninth inning, but earned his seventh save.

The series continues Saturday night at Lakewood (50-59, 21-19). First pitch is set for 7:05. 
Auburn (Short Season-A New York Penn League): The Auburn Doubledays, Single-A Short Season affiliate of the Washington Nationals, crushed the State College Spikes, 9-0, on Friday night at Falcon Park. Blake Perkins collected two hits and two RBIs for the Doubledays en route to the win.

Auburn (20-27) took the lead in the bottom of the second inning. With two outs, Jack Sundberg and Paul Panaccione walked to put runners on first and second base. Luis Vilorio followed with a base hit that scored Sundberg to put Auburn up 1-0.

The Doubledays added to their lead in the third inning. Perkins led off the inning with a walk. Daniel Johnson then struck out. Nick Banks followed with a single to left field. On the play, Anthony Ray, the left fielder, misplayed the ball, which allowed Perkins to score and Banks to move to second base. Ray then made an errant throw to second base, allowing Banks to advance to third base. The result of the play gave Auburn a 2-0 lead. Sheldon Neuse followed with a sacrifice fly out to left field that scored Banks to give the Doubledays a three-run lead, 3-0.

Auburn doubled its lead in the fourth inning. Panaccione and Vilorio began the inning with singles to put runners on first and second. Clayton Brandt followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners to second and third. Perkins then lined a ball to center field. Panaccione and Vilorio scored on the play and Perkins advanced to second base on the throw home. Catcher Jeremy Martinez tried to throw Perkins out at second base, but Martinez’s throw was wild and allowed Perkins to score, giving Auburn a 6-0 lead.
The Doubledays extended their lead in the seventh inning. With one out, Banks singled. Neuse then grounded into a fielder’s choice where Banks was out at second base, but Neuse was safe at first. With Ryan Ripken batting, a wild pitch allowed Neuse to move to second base. Ripken then doubled to score Neuse and put the Doubledays up by seven, 7-0.
Auburn added more insurance runs in the eighth inning. Panaccione singled to begin the inning. A pitch then hit Vilorio to put runners on first and second. Two batters late, Blake Perkins singled to load the bases. Johnson then grounded into a force out. During the play, Perkins was out at second base, but Johnson was safe at first. Panaccione scored on the play and Vilorio tried to score as well. The throw to home plate was dropped by Martinez as Vilorio scored too, giving Auburn a 9-0 lead.

Next up for the Doubledays is a three-game road series against Batavia that begins on Saturday. Left-hander Hector Silvestre will start for Auburn. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. from Batavia.

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