Washington Nationals Minor League Notebook: September 1

By Michael Marzzacco

Compiled via team press releases:

Syracuse (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs beat the Pawtucket Red Sox, 2-1, Thursday night at McCoy Stadium. Paolo Espino was excellent for the Chiefs, allowing a lone unearned run in eight innings while posting eight strikeouts. Matt Skole homered for the second straight night in the win.

Syracuse (60-79) finally broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning. With two outs, Skole his his 24th home run of the year off Brian Johnson to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead. It marked Matt’s 12th home run against a left-handed pitcher this year, a career high.

Pawtucket (71-67) finally scratched the scoreboard in the seventh. Christian Vazquez reached on an error on Jason Martinson at short to start the inning. After a walk and single, Chris Dominguez hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Vazquez and tie the game. The PawSox would reload the bases with one out, but Espino got the next two batters to keep the game tied at one.

The Chiefs took the lead back with an unearned run of their own in the eighth. Steve Lombardozzi singled with one out and Skole singled with two outs. After a walk, Matt den Dekker hit a ground ball to short, that hit off Mike Miller’s glove and went into right-center field to score a run on the error and give Syracuse a 2-1 lead.

Syracuse and Pawtucket return to McCoy Stadium Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Lucas Giolito is scheduled to start for the Chiefs opposite Roenis Elias for the PawSox.

Harrisburg (AA Eastern League): The Harrisburg Senators rallied from 2-0 and 4-2 deficits to defeat the Bowie Baysox 8-6 on Thursday night. The Senators win, coupled with Erie’s win over Akron, means the Sens return home just one-half game out of the wild card spot in the Western Division.

Mark Blackmar started and earned the win tossing seven innings and allowing five runs, however, at one point he retired 11 straight batters while the Sens offense came to life.

Trailing 2-0 into the fourth, the Sens tied the game on an error and a two-out single by Brian Jeroloman. After Bowie took a 4-2 lead, the Sens scored twice in the fifth on a single by Wilmer Difo and an RBI ground out by Jose Marmolejos. The Sens then tallied three in the sixth on a two run triple by Rafael Bautista followed by an RBI single by Difo.

Bowie scored a run in the eighth but left the bases loaded when Robert Benincasa induced a pop out followed by two strikeouts.

Shawn Pleffner drove in Difo with an insurance run in the ninth inning when he doubled off the fence in left center field. Mitch Lively pitched the ninth and allowed a run but retired the final two batters for his first save with the Senators.

Brian Jeroloman had three hits and Bautista, Difo, and Pleffner all had two hits for the Senators.

The Senators return home to begin a five-game series against the Hartford Yard Goats at 7:00 p.m. Friday night.

Potomac (High-A Carolina League): After the first two games between the Potomac Nationals (72-62, 38-28) and the Frederick Keys (67-69, 31-35) featured a total of 43 runs, Thursday night’s series finale was anything but a slugfest. The two teams combined for just four runs on 11 hits, as the P-Nats moved into a first place tie in the Northern Division with a 3-1 win. With four games remaining in the regular season, Potomac just has to match the Lynchburg Hillcats over the final series to host game one of the Carolina League playoffs.

For the sixth time in the six-game road trip, Potomac scored the first run of the game. After RHP Jon Keller (L, 0-3) walked five and stranded the bases loaded in each of the first two innings, the righty retired the side in order in the third. Keller issued a leadoff walk to LF Matt Page in the fourth, but after two quick outs, it appeared as though Keller would escape. CF Victor Robles grounded out to SS Anthony Caronia, but the shortstop’s throw was in the dirt and got passed 1B Aderlin Rodriguez. After Robles stole second base, 3B Stephen Drew drove home two runs with a double down the right field line. In his first rehab appearance, Drew went 1-1 with two walks and a two-run double.

On the mound for Potomac, RHP Boone Whiting (W, 11-3) cruised through much of his outing, as he earned his team leading 11th win of the season. Whiting gave up two infield singles over the first three innings and only five batters reached against the righty over the first six frames. With one out in the fourth inning, Rodriguez hit an opposite field solo home run, which cut the Potomac lead to one run, though that was the final time that Frederick crossed the plate.

The P-Nats quickly got the run back, as they tagged Keller with his only earned run of the night. C Raudy Read led off the fifth frame with a triple off the wall in the right field corner. With the infield in,SS Osvaldo Abreu swung at Keller’s first pitch and singled to right field, which plated Read and made it 3-1 Potomac, the eventual final.

Whiting returned for the seventh inning aiming to match his longest outing of the season, but the righty got just one out. C Yermin Mercedes doubled and 3B Jomar Reyes walked, which brought the go-ahead run to the plate. Potomac turned to LHP RC Orlan, while the Keys countered with a pinch hitter in SS Erick Salcedo. Orlan got Salcedo to fly out to right field, while CF Josh Hart grounded out to the mound to end the inning. After Orlan got two outs in the eighth inning, DH DJ Stewart ended Orlan’s night with a single. RHP Mario Sanchez (SV, 2) came in and struck out Rodriguez to end the inning. In the ninth, Sanchez gave up a two-out single to Reyes, but Salcedo grounded out to end the game.

Paired with a loss by the Hillcats, Potomac is back into a first place tie in the Northern Division. The four teams with tickets to the playoffs will meet in the final series of the regular season, as the P-Nats host the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, while the Hillcats host the Salem Red Sox. All four teams have a chance to host the opening game of the playoffs entering the final series.

Potomac will open the series vs. Myrtle Beach with LHP Hector Silvestre (0-0, 3.38) Friday night. Silvestre has gone only four innings in each of his first two starts with Potomac in 2016, but struck out five and allowed only one run last time out. For the Pelicans, RHP Duane Underwood (debut) will make his first start of the season in the Carolina League. Underwood went 0-5 with a 4.91 ERA for Double-A Tennessee in 13 starts and 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA for Single-A South Bend in three starts. First pitch Friday night is scheduled for 7:05pm.

Hagerstown (Low-A South Atlantic League): The Charleston RiverDogs put the Hagerstown Suns’ quest for a second-half title on life support Thursday night.

Charleston scored seven runs in the first two innings, knocking Hagerstown starter Jefry Rodriguez out early en route to an 8-2 South Atlantic League victory.

The Suns (80-56, 37-29), who won the Northern Division’s first-half title, made a push for the second-half crown by winning seven of eight, including the first game of their series against the RiverDogs (74-61, 32-34). But Charleston won the final two games of the series, leaving Hagerstown four games behind Lakewood in the standings with just a four-game series at Asheville left.

As first-half champs, the Suns already are guaranteed a playoff spot.

The RiverDogs scored twice in the first inning as Rodriguez (7-11) struggled with his control, walking three batters. With two on and one out, Jhalan Jackson grounded to third for what should have been an inning-ending double play, but second baseman Jake Noll’s relay throw was wild, extending the inning and allowing the first run. Luis Torrens added an RBI single.

Rodriguez walked four more batters in the second inning, including the first two he faced. After a bases-loaded groundout made it 3-0, Jackson hit a two-run single. Estevan Florial’s RBI triple made it 6-0, and he scored on a wild pitch for a 7-0 lead.

Florial led off the fourth with a home run off Mick VanVossen to make it 8-0.

That was plenty of support for Adonis Rosa (2-5), who pitched six shutout innings. He worked around four hits and three walks, striking out five.

Hagerstown got on the board with two runs off Greg Weissert in the seventh. Angelo La Bruna hit a one-out single and scored on Telmito Agustin‘s double to center. Agustin came all the way around to score on a relay throwing error by shortstop Hoy Jun Park.

Chase Hodson shut the door on the Suns with a perfect final two innings, striking out three.

Suns relievers turned in quality efforts. VanVossen allowed one run on three hits while striking out three over 3 1/3 innings. Mariano Rivera III allowed two hits over two scoreless innings, and Philip Walby worked a perfect eighth.

Kyle Holder went 3-for-5 for the RiverDogs. La Bruna and Rhett Wiseman led the Suns with two hits each.

Auburn (Short Season-A New York Penn League): The Auburn Doubledays, Single-A Short Season affiliate of the Washington Nationals, lost to the West Virginia Black Bears at Falcon Park on Thursday night, 6-2. West Virginia has won seven of the ten meetings between the two teams this season.

Auburn opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Daniel Johnson walked to begin the frame, then moved to second base on a one-out groundout from Oliver Ortiz. With two outs, Tres Barrera lined a single into right-field to drive in Johnson. Barrera’s RBI single boosts his hitting streak to 11 games – a Doubledays’ high this season – and his on-base streak to 14 games.

West Virginia took the lead with single runs in the second and third innings. Kevin Krause doubled to start the second, and later came around to score on a two-out throwing error by Auburn starter McKenzie Mills. Then in the third, Ty Moore walked with two outs, stole second, and scored on Will Craig’s RBI single.

The Doubledays tied the game back up in the fourth. Oliver Ortiz doubled to left-center to lead off the inning, and scored on Juan Soto‘s one-out single into left. Soto, a 17 year-old rookie from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, recorded two hits in his first game as an Auburn Doubleday.

West Virginia took the lead for good in the 6th. Ty Moore singled with one out, and advanced to third when Will Craig reached on an error. Kevin Krause walked to load the bases, and Albert Baur unloaded the bags with a booming grand slam over the right-field fence. In nine games against Auburn this season, Albert Baur is 13-for-33 (.393) with two home runs, 8 RBIs, and 7 runs scored.

James Marvel started and earned the win for West Virginia. Marvel went six innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits for his fifth win of the year. McKenzie Mills took the loss, allowing six runs, four of them earned runs, in 5.1 innings. Mills had yet to work past five innings in any start this season.

The Doubledays and Black Bears continue their three-game series on Friday. Right-hander A.J Bogucki will be on the mound for Auburn against West Virginia right-hander Danny Beddes. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.

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