Daily (almost) updates on the Washington Nationals farm system:
Syracuse (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs defeated the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in walk-off fashion Thursday night, 2-1. Neftali Soto knocked in the game-winning run in the 12th inning. Michael Brady threw seven excellent innings on the mound for the Chiefs in his Syracuse debut.
Lehigh Valley (74-51) eventually struck first off Brady. Cody Asche did the damage, ending Brady’s perfect outing with a solo home run over the right field fence for a 1-0 IronPigs lead. Brady had retired the first 13 batters he faced prior to Asche.
Brady’s excellent night came to a close after seven innings of work. The starter allowed just four hits and the one run while striking out eight and walking none in his Syracuse debut. Despite the success, Brady earned a no-decision in the outing. Trevor Gott then came on in relief to work a scoreless eighth. Washington acquired both Brady and Gott together in a December trade that sent Yunel Escobar to the Los Angeles Angels.
Syracuse (56-69) was stifled by Lehigh Valley pitching until the eighth inning. Nick Pivetta threw the first six innings for the IronPigs while allowing only three hits. He also struck out nine Chiefs while walking just two. Patrick Schuster then came on in relief, tossing a scoreless seventh inning before giving way to Colton Murray on the mound. Caleb Ramsey welcomed Murray to the game with a leadoff double to the alley in right-center field. Matt Skole tied the game a batter later by driving in Ramsey with a single to left-center.
Rafael Martin came on for the Chiefs in the ninth inning, retiring the IronPigs in order. Syracuse then threatened in the bottom of the frame, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Steve Lombardozzi hit a hard grounder to the right side, but it was fielded nicely by first baseman Brock Stassi and thrown to the covering Murray to end the ninth.
The next run would not come until the 12th. Lombardozzi led off with a walk against reliever Dalier Hinojosa. Following the walk, Ramsey sacrifice bunted Lombardozzi to second base. After a strikeout, Skole was intentionally walked. With runners on first and second and two outs, Soto hit a single to right field, driving home Lombardozzi to give the Chiefs the 2-1 win.
Syracuse returns to action Friday night for a doubleheader. Taylor Hill is set to pitch in game one for the Chiefs opposite of James Russel for the IronPigs. In game two, Paolo Espino will pitch for Syracuse against Phil Klein for Lehigh Valley. Start time for the double dip is set for 5:05 p.m. at NBT Bank Stadium.
Harrisburg (AA Eastern League): For the second night in a row, the Harrisburg Senators put the tying run on in each of the last two innings. And for the second night in a row, the Senators’ comeback fell short as they were defeated 8-7 by the Erie SeaWolves in front of 4,637 fans at FNB Field. The series sweep was the third time this season the Senators have been swept.
Harrisburg (63-60) jumped out to an early lead as Rafael Bautista led off the home half of the first with a solo home run. The Senators added to their lead when Spencer Kieboom also went yard, a two-run shot, to stake Harrisburg to a 3-0 lead.
That looked like more than enough for Harrisburg starter John Simms who cruised through the first four frames facing the minimum 12 batters. But things went downhill for Simms (7-5) after he clipped Corey Jones with a pitch to lead off the fifth inning. Christin Stewart followed with a home run and the SeaWolves took advantage of a Ward throwing error to keep their rally going. Erie continued the hit parade with three singles to plate three more runs and chase Simms from the game. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed five runs, although only two were earned, on six hits while striking out four.
Harrisburg pulled back within a run, 5-4, in the sixth as Kieboom once again delivered, this time a flare to center to score Kevin Keyes from third base. Keyes had doubled to start the frame and moved up 90 feet on an Isaac Ballou single. But Erie responded with two runs in the top of the next frame off reliever Robert Benincasa to widen their advantage to three. Wander Suero was also unable to keep the SeaWolves off the scoreboard as Erie plated a run in the eighth to double up on the Senators, 8-4.
But the Senators weren’t content to go gently into that good night. After Jose Marmolejos singled and Keyes walked to lead off the bottom half of the eight, Khayyan Norfork recorded an infield single that shortstop Gustavo Nunez threw away into the Erie dugout plating Marmolejos. Ballou drove Keyes home on an RBI groundout and Norfork raced home on a wild pitch cut the lead to 8-7. Harrisburg would get the tying run to third base in the frame, but Bautista grounded out to end the threat.
Harrisburg would get a pair of runners on in their final at-bats, but Ballou’s line drive was corralled by center fielder Anthony Gose to end the game.
The Senators head south to take on the Richmond Flying Squirrels in a weekend series at The Diamond. Phillips Valdez gets the ball for Harrisburg against Matt Gage on Friday night for the scheduled 7:05 start time.
Potomac (High-A Carolina League): After a perfect 8-0 record in the first half at Frawley Stadium, the Potomac Nationals (66-56, 32-21) wrapped up a four-game series at the home of the Wilmington Blue Rocks (47-76, 21-34) with a fourth consecutive loss to the home team. The sweep was the first of the season for the Blue Rocks, as Potomac finished a seven-game road trip at 1-6.
It was another offensive struggle for Potomac, as the P-Nats did not get on the board until the sixth inning, one night after the Blue Rocks shut them out 1-0. RHP Corey Ray (W, 7-6) allowed just one unearned run over seven innings, as he picked up his second win of the season vs. Potomac.
Opposite Ray, RHP Austen Williams (L, 4-4) issued a season high four walks but allowed only three runs, two earned, over five innings. Williams gave up a single run in the fourth inning, the fifth frame, and the sixth, as the latter proved to be the difference in the 3-2 final.
Wilmington got the scoring started in the fourth inning. RF Elier Hernandez, who had a walk-off RBI single Wednesday night, reached on a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning. After a single by C Chad Johnson moved Hernandez to third base, DH Robert Pehl made it 1-0 Wilmington with an RBI single.
After the P-Nats went scoreless through the fifth inning, extending their scoreless streak to 16 frames, the Blue Rocks added a run in the bottom of the inning against Williams. CF Cody Jones led off the inning with a single back to the mound, which Williams did not handle cleanly. Williams then threw it past 1B David Masters, as an error allowed Jones to get to second base. After 2B Austin Bailey flied out to right field and moved Jones to third base, 1B Samir Duenez walked and LF Brandon Downes made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Potomac finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning with help from the Wilmington defense and a pair of wild pitches. Schrock reached on a fielder’s choice groundout and moved to second base as C Raudy Read was safe on a fielding error by 3B Mike Hill. A wild pitch with two outs moved the runners to second and third base. SS Bryan Mejia struck out on a pitch in the dirt, but the offering from Ray got past C Chad Johnson and allowed Schrock to score. RF Drew Vettleson grounded out as Ray escaped without any further damage. It was the lone run that the Wilmington starter surrendered in the victory.
The Blue Rocks answered right back in the bottom of the inning and scored what turned out to be the winning run. Williams faced two batters in the inning and gave up two hits, a single to Hernandez and a double to Johnson. With men at second and third and no outs, RHP Gilberto Mendez came in for Williams and gave up an RBI single to Pehl. Mendez then got SS Carlos Diaz to ground into a double play and retired Bailey to keep it a two-run game.
The P-Nats threatened in each of the final two frames and left the tying run in scoring position in each inning. Schrock and Read drew consecutive two-out walks in the eighth inning against LHP Brennan Henry, and Mejia made it a one-run game with an RBI single. With men at first and second, RHP Todd Eaton (SV, 1) got Vettleson to fly out to centerfield on one pitch to end the inning. In the ninth,3B Austin Davidson led off with a walk, while Osvaldo Abreu pinch ran at first base. CF Dale Carey popped out on a bunt attempt, Masters flied out to right field, CF Victor Robles walked, but Eaton struck out LF Alec Keller to complete the four-game sweep, as Wilmington won 3-2.
Off of a 1-6 road trip, the P-Nats return home to Pfitzner Stadium to begin a six-game homestand over the next week. Friday night, RHP J.D. Martin (0-0, 4.50) will make his second start of the season for Potomac, as the P-Nats host the Frederick Keys. For the Keys, RHP Franderlin Romero (5-4, 6.06) will get the start in the series opener. First pitch is set for 7:05pm.
Hagerstown (Low-A South Atlantic): Hagerstown’s Rhett Wiseman came up clutch in the first game of a doubleheader. But the Suns couldn’t sustain the magic in the nightcap and settled for a South Atlantic League split Thursday night against the Rome Braves.
After losing the opener, 4-2, Rome scored at least one run every inning but the first on their way to 6-2 win.
With the split, Hagerstown (72-51, 29-24) gained a 1/2 game in the second-half standings on first-place Lakewood (59-63, 30-23). The Suns, who captured the first half, are a game behind, tied with Kannapolis (53-70, 29-24) for second place in the SAL’s Northern Division.
Graham had come on in relief after starter Ricardo Sanchez threw six innings, allowing eight hits and two runs.
The runs made a deserved winner out of Tommy Peterson (4-1), who delivered 2 2/3 innings of no-hit relief of starter Joan Baez. The right-hander allowed six hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings, leaving with the score tied 2-2.
Ian Sagdal got the Suns on the scoreboard in the second inning. He led off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout by Jakson Reetz to tie it 1-1.
After Rome took a 2-1 lead, Hagerstown answered with the tying run thanks to the quick feet of Lora, who singled with two out, stole his 19th base of the year and advanced to third on a throwing error by Rome’s first baseman on the play. He then scored on a third-strike wild pitch to Narciso Mesa.
Ray Patrick-Didier tripled and scored the first run for Rome. Jonathan Morales singled and scored the go-ahead run for the Braves in the fourth.
In the second game, Hagerstown managed just six hits — all singles — against four Rome pitchers.
Chase Johnson-Mullins (2-0) got the win in relief pitching 1 2/3 innings of no-hit ball with three strikeouts. Devin Watts pitched a perfect seventh inning to wrap up the win.
Rome (57-65, 30-23), which plays in the SAL’s Southern Division, totaled 10 hits in the game, including eight in 4 2/3 innings off Hagerstown starter James Bourque (4-6).
Carlos Castro, Kevin Josephina and Patrick-Didier each had a single and a double for Rome. Tyler Neslony added two hits for the Braves who won two of three in the series.
Hagerstown travels to Lexington for the first of a four-game series on Friday night.
Auburn (Short Season-A New York Penn League): The Auburn Doubledays, Single-A Short Season affiliate of the Washington Nationals, lost to the Hudson Valley Renegades, 7-2, on Thursday night. Doubledays infielder Andres Martinez hit his first home run of the season in the game.
The Doubledays (22-34) scored first in the top of the second inning. With one out, Andres Martinez doubled to center field. Luis Vilorio followed with a single to right field that allowed Martinez to score to give the Doubledays a 1-0 lead.
The Renegades (34-22) tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. With two outs, Jake Fraley tripled. Garrett Whitley then singled to left field, scoring Fraley to tie the game at one.
Hudson Valley took the lead in the sixth inning. Jim Haley and Nate Lowe both singled to begin the inning, putting runners on first and second base. Angel Perez then struck out. With Chris Betts batting, a wild pitch allowed the runners to advance to second and third. Betts then worked a walk. Jose Rojas followed with a single to right field to score Haley and keep the bases loaded as the Renegades took a 2-1 advantage. Bill Pujols then struck out for the second out of the inning. Fraley followed with an infield single that allowed Lowe to score, extending the Hudson Valley lead to two, 3-1.
The Renegades added to their lead in the seventh inning. Miles Mastrobuoni singled, Haley walked, and Lowe was hit by a pitch to load the bases. After a Perez pop out, Betts hit a ground rule double to center field that scored Mastrobuoni and Haley and moved Lowe to third base to put Hudson Valley up 5-1. Rojas followed with a single to right field, scoring Lowe to push the Renegades’ lead to five, 6-1.
Hudson Valley added another run to its lead in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Betts was hit by a pitch. Mastrobuoni scored to give the Renegades a 7-1 advantage.
Auburn cut into the Hudson Valley lead in the top of the ninth inning. With one out, Andres Martinez crushed a ball over the left-field fence to bring the Doubledays’ deficit to five as the Renegades still lead, 7-2.
The Doubledays and the Renegades conclude their three-game series on Friday night. Right-hander Carlos Acevedo will pitch for Auburn. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.