By Michael Marzzacco
All four Nationals minor league affiliates won on Monday night.
From staff and wire reports:
SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs won their first game of the season Monday, beating the Pawtucket Red Sox, 13-5, at McCoy Stadium. Brandon Snyder and Irving Falu each homered for the second day in a row, and along with Corban Joseph, all drove in three runs. Pedro Severino also homered, giving the Chiefs seven long balls in the last two games.
HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): The Senators cruised to a 6-0 lead on Monday night but then had to hang on for a 7-5 win over Hartford. The Senators had two three-run innings, one in the second and one in the fifth, before watching Hartford tally five runs in the eighth inning.
Greg Ross started for the Sens and tossed six shutout innings while striking out five and allowing three hits. Ross worked three one-two-three innings and did not allow two baserunners in any inning. He also contributed at the plate with a run scoring double to cap a three-run second inning for the Senators.
Yadiel Hernandez and Andrew Stevenson doubled and singled around the double by Ross to drive in runs giving the Sens a 3-0 lead. They extended the lead to 6-0 in the fifth on an RBI double by Drew Ward followed by a two-run double by Neftali Soto.
Jake Johansen pitched a scoreless seventh but allowed a run and left the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth. Ryan Brinley allowed the three runners he inherited to score but finally retired Jan Vazquez to end the inning. Hartford sent ten batters to the plate in scoring their five runs.
Alec Keller walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch in the eighth inning to give the Sens an insurance run at 7-5. Brinley allowed a one-out triple but retired the final two batters to end the game.
Game two of the three-game series is Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. with RH John Simms on the hill for the Senators against RH Ryan Castellani for Hartford.
POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): Two batters into Monday night’s game between the Potomac Nationals (3-1) and the Frederick Keys (1-3), the P-Nats led 1-0. Five batters into the game, the visiting squad led 5-0, which proved to be enough as part of a 13-4 win over the rival Keys. Potomac’s offense clicked on all cylinders vs. RHP Cristian Alvarado (L, 0-1), as the righty gave up nine earned runs on 10 hits over just four innings in his 2017 debut. For Potomac, RHP Joan Baez (ND) allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits over 4.1 innings. Despite six wild pitches and two hit batsmen, Baez did more than enough to propel the P-Nats to the win.
For the second consecutive game, CF Victor Robles led off the top of the first inning with a double and scored one batter later. Monday night, an RBI single by DH Austin Davidson made it 1-0 Potomac. After 1B Ian Sagdal and 3B Kelvin Gutierrez each singled, which loaded the bases, C Taylor Gushue hit the first pitch he saw from Alvarado over the right field wall. Gushue’s grand slam made it 5-0 Potomac and proved to be the difference in the game.
Both teams struck for multiple runs in the fourth inning. Already with a 5-0 lead, the P-Nats sent seven men to the plate as part of a four-run inning. In the frame, LF Telmito Augustin had an RBI single, while Sagdal launched his second two-run home run in as many nights. With a 9-0 lead, Baez gave three runs back in the home half of the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, RF Ademar Rifaela got Frederick on the board with an RBI single. 2B Stephen Wilkerson and CF Austin Hays each had an RBI in the inning, as Potomac took a 9-3 lead into the fifth frame.
After Alvarado departed for LHP Mitch Horacek, Potomac plated a run in the fifth inning on a pair of singles. RF Rhett Wiseman singled with one out, took second base on a groundout by SS Edwin Lora, and scored on the second RBI single of the night by LF Telmito Augustin.
Baez returned to the mound for the bottom of the fifth inning, but managed to get just one out. The right-handed starting pitcher struck out the first man that he faced, but then gave up a single, threw two wild pitches, and issued back-to-back walks. Out of the bullpen, RHP Ronald Pena (W, 1-0) inherited the bases loaded jam but allowed just one run in the frame, and it came on a passed ball charged to Gushue.
The Keys threatened with at least one baserunner in three of the final four innings, but Potomac put the game away with three runs in the top of the ninth inning against RHP Tanner Chleborad. 2B Bryan Mejia opened the frame with a single and scored on an RBI triple by Wiseman, who scored on an errant relay throw to third base by Wilkerson. Lora followed with a single, and the shortstop scored two batters later on an RBI double by Robles. RHP Mariano Rivera closed out the game with a pair of scoreless innings for Potomac in his 2017 debut.
In the win, all nine Potomac starters recorded at least one hit and scored at least one run. Robles had his second consecutive three-hit game, while Wiseman tallied his first multi-hit game of the season. Davidson, Sagdal, Lora, and Augustin also each had multiple hits. With the 13 earned run outing in the loss, Frederick’s team ERA bumped up to 9.00 through the first four games of the season, which ranks last in the Carolina League, almost four runs worse than any other team.
With a third straight victory in hand, the P-Nats will aim for a second consecutive series win Tuesday night. The first place Potomac squad is set to start RHP Wirkin Estevez (0-0, 0.00) in his season debut. Frederick will look to level the series, as RHP Ofelky Peralta is set to make his Carolina League debut for the Keys. First pitch is set for 7:00pm.
HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic):
The Suns (3-2) erased an early 4-0 deficit and took the lead for good with three runs in the bottom of the seventh to hand the Lakewood BlueClaws (4-1) their first loss of the season, 5-4.
BlueClaws reliever Zach Morris (Loss, 1-1) was never saved by the bell in the bottom of the seventh after walking Daniel Johnson and Blake Perkins. Trailing 4-2 with one out, Carter Kieboom pulled a two-run double down the left-field line, scoring both Johnson and Perkins to tie the game.
Kieboom’s 2-for-4 night at the plate pushed his batting average to .471 in his first week with the Suns at Municipal Stadium.
Juan Soto stepped up next and dropped a single into right, but Kieboom was tagged out after slipping between third base and home plate. Soto raced into second during the rundown and Sheldon Neuse brought him home with a two-out RBI single, putting the Suns ahead for good.
Neuse co-leads the Suns with six runs batted in through the first five games. He’s tied with Johnson, who launched his third home run is as many days in the bottom of the third. Jake Noll picked up his third RBI in 2017 with an RBI groundout in the fourth inning.
Suns reliever Hayden Howard (Win, 1-0) earned the win in his Hagerstown debut by throwing three scoreless innings with just one hit allowed while striking out five batters. Jorge Pantoja (Save, 1) threw two scoreless innings to record the first save by any Suns pitcher this season.
First-time Suns starting pitcher Carlos Pena gave up a home run to Daniel Brito on the very first pitch of the game and allowed three earned runs through the first two frames, but escaped with a no-decision thanks to the Suns comeback.