Washington Nationals Minor League Notebook August 31: PNats Clinch Playoff Spot

By Michael Marzzacco

Compiled via team press releases:

Syracuse (AAA International League):

Joe Ross struck out two in an inning and two-thirds on Major-League rehab Wednesday (Bare Antolos/Rochester Red Wings)
The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Rochester Red Wings, 4-3, Wednesday night at Frontier Field after an hour and 36 minute delay due to the threat of rain. Joe Ross started on Major-League rehab for the Chiefs, allowing just a hit in one and two-thirds innings, throwing 31 pitches with 21 strikes and two strikeouts. Austin Voth was excellent out of the bullpen, allowing just one hit in six innings. But the Red Wings scored three runs in the ninth inning without recording an out to walk-off for the win.
Syracuse (59-79) started the scoring in the first inning off Jose Berrios. Matt Skole launched a two-run home run to right field with Neftali Soto on first base for a 2-0 Chiefs lead.
The Chiefs would take a 3-0 lead in the sixth on Brian Goodwin‘s 14th home run of the season. That would be the final hit the Chiefs would record on the night, as Berrios went on to go eight innings, striking out his final five batters faced to finish with a career-high 14.
Rochester (79-60) finally got on the board in the seventh. Kennys Vargas singled to start the inning against Voth, only Rochester’s second hit of the night. Three batters later, Mitch Garver hit a line drive to left field that hit off Zach Collier‘s glove, allowing Vargas to score on the error and cut the score to 3-1.
The Red Wings caught fire in the ninth inning against Trevor Gott. James Beresford and Vargas each singled to put runners on first and third. With Tommy Field pinch running for Vargas, Adam Brett Walker doubled home both runners to tie the score at three. After a walk and a single, Murphy singled through the hole to left field to score Walker and give the Wings the 4-3 win.
Syracuse hits the road and opens its penultimate series of the season in Pawtucket at 7:05 p.m. Thursday night. Mat Latos is scheduled to start for the Chiefs opposite Brian Johnson for the PawSox.

Harrisburg (AA Eastern League): On Wednesday in Bowie, the Senators squandered a 4-1 seventh inning lead but rallied to beat Bowie 5-4 in ten innings. Harrisburg (71-65) guarantees at least a .500 season with the win.

Erick Fedde started and pitched five innings striking out a career-high 12 batters but took a no decision. Five pitchers followed Fedde and all earned some type of decision in the game.

With the score 4-4 in the tenth, Rafael Bautista walked and stole second, he moved to third on a bunt single by Andrew Stevenson and then scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Wilmer Difo.

Isaac Ballou drove in the Sens first run to tie the game in the second when he singled to score Shawn Pleffner. The Sens took a 2-1 lead in the second on an RBI ground out by Bautista. They extended the lead to 3-1 when Andrian Sanchez scored on a wild pitch. In the seventh, Khayyan Norfork was hit by a pitch to drive in a run and give the Sens a 4-1 lead.

Bowie scored two in the seventh on a two-run home run by Glyn Davis. They tied the game in the ninth on a two-out RBI double by Chris Dickerson.

Andrew Robinson pitched a perfect tenth to earn his ninth save of the season. Nick Lee retired Chance Sisco in the ninth with the winning run at second to earn the win.

The final game of the four-game series is Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. The Senators send Mark Blackmar to the mound.

Note: In the tenth inning Rafael Bautista stole second base for his 53nd stolen base on the season which sets the new all-time single season record for the Senators.

Potomac (High-A Carolina League):

The Potomac Nationals (71-62, 37-28) would not let a repeat of Wednesday night’s blown lead push their playoff berth any further back. Despite a Frederick Keys (67-68, 31-34) rally from an early 4-0 deficit, Potomac scored seven of the final eight runs of the game in route to an 11-5 victory. The win earned Potomac a berth in the Carolina League playoffs and a matchup with the Lynchburg Hillcats next week.

In his third start in three weeks vs. Frederick, RHP J.D. Martin (W, 1-2) had his knuckleball working better than any of his first two vs. the Keys. Though Martin allowed five earned runs, the righty tossed a season high 7.2 innings.

The P-Nats tallied a quick 2-0 lead for the second night in a row. The first five Potomac hitters reached in the first inning, as an RBI single by RF Drew Vettleson made it 1-0 Potomac and, 2B Bryan Mejia followed with the first of his three sacrifice flies to centerfield, which made it 2-0.

Martin cruised through four innings and got into the fifth in shutout fashion. Potomac doubled up its lead behind Martin to 4-0 with another pair of runs in the third inning against LHP Trevor Belicek (ND). Consecutive singles by SS Osvaldo Abreu and 1B Kelvin Gutierrez put two men on for Vettleson. The Potomac right fielder hit a ground ball to 1B Aderlin Rodriguez, who completely missed on the fielding attempt. Rodriguez’s error made it 4-0 Potomac.

Frederick stormed back against Martin and plated four runs in the fifth inning. 3B Jomar Reyes singled and scored on an RBI double by RF Jay Gonzalez. Gonzalez scored on a passed ball, and a two-run, two-out single by 1B Aderlin Rodriguez tied the game at four.

RHP Austin Urban (L, 2-4) worked two scoreless innings after four frames from Belicek, but the righty gave up three runs in the seventh. DH Austin Davidson led off with a walk and Abreu singled. After a sacrifice bunt by 3B Kelvin Gutierrez, Frederick intentionally walked Vettleson. With the bases loaded, Mejia put the P-Nats on top 5-4 with a sacrifice fly to centerfield. 1B Matt Page made it 6-4 with an RBI single, and another two-run error by Rodriguez made it 8-4.

The Keys got a run back on a solo home run by LF D.J. Stewart in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Martin got out of the inning without any further damage. The righty gave up a double and then a single in the eighth inning, but LHP Justin Thomas got pinch-hitter Yermin Mercedes to ground out.

Potomac put the game away with three runs in the ninth inning, as RHP Ivan Hernandez gave up a double to Vettleson, a two-run home run to Mejia, a triple to 1B David Masters, and a sacrifice fly to C Jake Lowery. The P-Nats took an 11-5 lead into the bottom of the ninth, and despite two singles, RHP Ryan Brinley closed the door and got Potomac into the playoffs.

With the playoff spot clinched, the P-Nats remain in a race for the top of the Northern Division. With five games left, Potomac is one game behind Lynchburg. The P-Nats will turn to RHP Boone Whiting(10-3, 3.58) in the series finale vs. Frederick Thursday night. For the Keys, RHP Jon Keller (0-2, 3.18) is set to take the ball in the final meeting between the two teams in 2016. First pitch Thursday night is scheduled for 7:00pm.

Hagerstown (Low-A South Atlantic): The Hagerstown Suns did their best to rally in the ninth inning Wednesday night at Charleston.

But coming back against closer Andrew Schwaab and the RiverDogs is never easy.

Inducing a two-out groundout from Rhett Wiseman with Grant DeBruin at second base in the top of the ninth inning, Schwaab nailed down his 20th save of the season as Charleston edged Hagerstown 6-5.

Charleston now has a 34-1 record in home games it has led entering the ninth inning.

In a matchup of teams that have already clinched spots in the South Atlantic League postseason, Charleston (73-61, 31-34), the winner of the first half of the SAL’s Southern Division, evened the three-game series at one game each. Hagerstown (80-55, 37-28), winner of the first half in the SAL’s Northern Division, fell three games behind Lakewood in the second-half standings with five games left.

On Wednesday night, the Suns dug themselves a hole thanks in part to four errors which helped victimize starting pitcher Luis Reyes (0-2) who give up six runs, three of which were earned.

Doing the damage for Charleston were Mandy Alvarez, who had two hits and drove in a pair of runs, Kane Sweeney, who had two RBIs, and Kyle Holder and Vincente Conde, who had two each each from the top of the RiverDogs’ batting order.

The Suns were slow to mount an offense against Charleston starter Luis Cedeno (8-9), who allowed five hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Hagerstown made it interesting nonetheless. In the eighth inning Jakson Reetz doubled home Jake Noll who had walked with two out. The run cut Charlestown’s lead to 6-3.

Then in the ninth against Schwaab, Ian Sagdal tripled home a run with two out and DeBruin followed with an RBI double, cutting the deficit to 6-5. It was the second of two doubles for DeBruin.

Tyler Beckwith also had two hits for Hagerstown.

Auburn (Short Season-A New York Penn League): L 9-2 @ Brooklyn


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