From staff and wire reports:
Syracuse (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 4-2, Saturday night at PNC Field. Lucas Giolito struck out six in three and two-thirds innings for the Chiefs in his third start with Syracuse, allowing seven hits and three runs.
Harrisburg (AA Eastern): On Saturday night, the Trenton Thunder returned the favor and shutout the Senators 6-0 in front of 5,442 at FNB Field. The win by Trenton evens the series and sets up a rubber game to the three-game series Sunday afternoon. Trenton improves to 71-42 while the Senators fall to 61-52.
Trenton scored all they would need in the third inning when they scored a run on a fielder’s choice to take a 1-0 lead. They tacked on two more on a two-run home run by Dustin Fowler in the seventh and then broke the game open in the ninth scoring three times.
Tyler Mapes started for the Senators and took the loss, dropping to 10-8 on the season. Mapes allowed just one run on eight hits in six innings of work. Robert Benincasa followed and allowed two runs in two innings while Nick Lee allowed three in the ninth.
Offensively the Senators had seven hits, two by Jose Marmolejos and Adrian Sanchez, but didn’t have a solid scoring chance until the eighth inning when they put their first two men on but consecutive ground balls to second bases ended the threat.
The final game of the three-game series is Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m.
Potomac (High-A Carolina League): In a game that started with two pitchers who looked like they wouldn’t make it through the second inning, both LHP Matthew Crownover (W, 3-4) and RHP Corey Ray (L, 6-6) pitched at least five innings, as the Potomac Nationals (63-48, 29-14) took down the Wilmington Blue Rocks (40-71, 13-29) 6-2 Saturday night. It was the fourth straight win for Potomac and the 17th victory in 21 matchups with the Blue Rocks in 2016.
The Potomac offense got an early boost, thanks to a lack of command by Ray. The right-handed starter walked the first two batters of the game, and 2B Max Schrock plated both LF Alec Keller and SS Osvaldo Abreu with a two-run double. Later in the inning, with C Raudy Read and RF Drew Vettlesonon base, 3B Austin Davidson hit a two-out, three-run home run over the right field wall. Davidson’s third home run of the season made it 5-0 Potomac seven batters into the game and proved to be the difference in the victory.
After a first inning in which Crownover struck out three and gave up a double, the lefty struggled in the second and needed more than 35 pitches to get through the frame. 3B Mike Hill singled with one out, while C Chad Johnson followed with a double that went off the glove of 1B Matt Page. 2B Brian Bien drew a walk, which loaded the bases. Crownover retired SS Carlos Diaz, but CF Cody Jones plated a pair with a two-out, two-strike, two-run single. Crownover then struck out LF Anderson Miller and stranded a pair of men in scoring position, as the P-Nats led 5-2 after 1.5 innings.
Once the two starters made it through the order for the first time, each settled in. Crownover retired 10 of the final 11 batters that he faced, as the lefty struck out a career high eight over five innings. Ray meanwhile stranded two in scoring position in the second inning and retired 11 of 12 batters from the second through the sixth before he gave up another run. Two-out walks drawn by CF Dale Carey and Keller in the sixth loaded the bases for Abreu, who struck out on a pitch in the dirt, but reached via a wild pitch. Ray’s wild pitch, his final pitch of the night, plated Davidson from third base and made it 6-2 Potomac.
Both bullpens were stellar over the back half of the game. LHP Kyle Kubat inherited a bases loaded jam in the sixth inning and struck out Schrock. Kubat faced seven Potomac hitters and set them all down, as he was perfect over 2.1 innings. For Potomac, RHP Whit Mayberry (SV, 1) worked four scoreless frames in his first relief outing of the season. Mayberry got a double play to end the sixth, stranded a runner at first base in the seventh, worked a perfect eighth frame, and worked around a single in a scoreless ninth inning.
Seven of the nine Potomac starters reached in the victory, while five different starters scored. Potomac managed just three hit after the three-hit, five-run first inning and got outhit 8-6 in the win. The Blue Rocks went 1-9 with RISP in the loss and are now 3-26 with RISP in the series.
With a series victory in hand, the P-Nats have an opportunity for a four-game sweep Sunday night, as they host the Blue Rocks in the series finale. RHP Austen Williams (2-3, 4.10) is set to take the ball for Potomac. Williams has not given up more than two earned runs in any of his last three starts, and is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA over that span. For the Blue Rocks, RHP Andy Ferguson (0-2, 2.63) will make his fourth start of the season for Wilmington. The righty is 0-1 in his last two starts but has allowed just one earned run over his last 11 innings. First pitch Sunday night is set for 6:05pm.
Hagerstown (Low-A South Atlantic): Teams at the top of the standings in the Northern Division of the South Atlantic League have been bunched through most of the second half of the season.
On Saturday night, they got a little closer as the Lakewood BlueClaws got a strong pitching performance from Tyler Gilbert in a 4-2 victory over the first-place Hagerstown Suns.
When he was lifted with two out in the eighth inning, Gilbert (6-7) had limited the Suns to four hits and a walk with eight strikeouts.
With the win, Lakewood (51-59, 22-19) pulled to within 2 1/2 games of Hagerstown (68-43, 25-17). Also in the race are Greensboro (61-50, 24-18), which is a game out of first place, and Hickory (61-50, 23-18), which is 1 1/2 games behind.
The only run the Suns got on Saturday night, before a crowd of 6,417, came in the fourth inning when Randy Encarnacion singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Kelvin Gutierrez. Before Encarnacion’s hit, the left-handed Gilbert had retired the first nine batters.
Suns starter Pedro Avila (7-8) had a 1-0 lead entering the fifth inning. After retiring 10 straight BlueClaws, the 19-year-old right-hander served up a solo home run to Emmanuel Marrero. Then in the sixth inning, Avila gave up singles to Mark Laird (3-for-4), Jose Pujols and Wilson Garcia (2-for-4), accounting for the go-ahead run, and threw a wild pitch, allowing another run to cross the plate.
Lakewood got an insurance run in the seventh off reliever Jacob Howell as Laird hit an RBI single.
Hagerstown threatened in the eighth inning when Angelo La Bruna doubled and Encarnacion drew a two-out walk. But Austin Davis came on in relief of Gilbert and induced an inning-ending groundout from Narciso Mesa.
The Suns got to Davis in the ninth inning, when Gutierrez and Grant DeBruin hit singles, helping Hagerstown close the gap to 4-2. But with DeBruin at third base with one out, Davis fanned Jakson Reetz. The final out came when Jake Noll popped out to first.
Lakewood will try to earn a split of the four-game series on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m.
Auburn (Short Season-A New York Penn League): The Doubledays (20-27) scored first in the top of the third inning. Dalton Dulin led off the inning with a walk. With Blake Perkins batting, a wild pitch allowed Dulin to advance to second base. Perkins then lined out to Batavia shortstop Samuel Castro. Daniel Johnson followed with a fly out to center field. Dulin tagged up on the play and moved to third base. With Sheldon Neuse batting, another wild pitch allowed Dulin to score to give Auburn a 1-0 lead.
The Muckdogs (11-37) tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Branden Berry and J.J. Gould both singled to put runners on first and second base to begin the inning. Alex Jones then laid down a sacrifice bunt. On the play, Doubledays pitcher Hector Silvestre picked the ball up and made an errant throw to first base, allowing Berry to score to tie the game at one.
Auburn regained the lead in the fifth inning. Dulin doubled to lead off the inning. On a Perkins ground out to first base, Dulin advanced to third. A pitch then hit Johnson to put runners on the corners. Neuse followed with a single to center field that scored Dulin and moved Johnson to second base as the Doubledays took a 2-1 advantage. With Nick Banks batting, Johnson stole third base and Neuse stole second. Banks then struck out. With Tres Barrera batting though, a wild pitch allowed Johnson to score from third base to extend the Auburn lead to two, 3-1.
The Doubledays added to their lead in the seventh inning. Perkins singled to begin the inning. With Johnson at the plate, Perkins stole second base. Johnson then flied out to center field. Neuse followed with a ground out back to the mound for the second out of the inning. With two outs and Perkins at second, Banks singled to score Perkins and put the Doubledays up by three, 4-1.
Auburn added another insurance run in the ninth. Perkins reached base to lead off the inning because of an error on Castro. Johnson followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Neuse then grounded out to second, but Perkins and Johnson advanced up a base each to put runners on second and third. An intentional walk of Banks loaded the bases. Barrera then grounded into a fielder’s choice in which Johnson was out at third base, but Perkins scored from third base to extend the Doubledays’ lead to four, 5-1.
The Doubledays and the Muckdogs play the second game of their three-game series on Sunday afternoon. Right-hander Dane Dunning will pitch for Auburn in a Sunday matinee. First pitch is set for 4:05 p.m.