Washington Nationals Minor League Notebook: April 23

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Blake Perkins (#2) mobbed at home plate after launching game-winning, three-run homer in opening game of Sunday’s doubleheader with Delmarva. (Patrick Cavey)

By Michael Marzzacco

From the wires:

SYRACUSE (AAA International): The Syracuse Chiefs won their sixth straight game, 8-2, against the Norfolk Tides on Sunday afternoon at NBT Bank Stadium. The win ties Syracuse’s longest winning streak of last season. In addition, the victory completed a sweep of Norfolk and the Chiefs’ five-game homestand. The Chiefs allowed just eight runs in the stretch.

Syracuse (8-7) scored its first run off Gabriel Ynoa in the bottom of the first. Matt Skole grounded out to first and Rafael Bautista, who had led off with a single, dashed home to put the Chiefs up 1-0.

The Chiefs’ bats exploded with six runs from the third to fifth innings. In the third, Brandon Snyder doubled to deep left. Snyder entered the game after Matt Skole was ejected for arguing a Caleb Ramsey strikeout. Clint Robinson sprinted all the way from first to score to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead. Later in the inning, Corban Joseph plated Pedro Severino on a single to right, Joseph’s sixth RBI of the year.

Syracuse scored another two in the fourth off Richard Rodriguez. With the bases loaded, Severino looped a single to center, scoring Bautista. Joseph then plated Brian Goodwin on a sacrifice fly.

By the fifth, Norfolk (5-11) hadn’t scored and amassed just one hit against A.J. Cole. That changed when Drew Dosch scored after Paul Janish grounded out to third. The Tides weren’t done yet as Logan Schafer singled off a ground ball. David Washington scored on the play.

The Chiefs made up for those lost runs against Logan Verrett the next half-inning. Brian Goodwin’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded plated Ramsey. The next play, Sanchez scored on a fielder’s choice as Robinson grounded out to second.

Syracuse loaded the bases again in the eighth against right-hander Scott McGough, thanks in part to a pair of Norfolk errors. Sanchez blasted a sacrifice fly to center field, which sent home Joseph.

Cole picked up his first win of the season, allowing two runs and striking out five. Four different relievers each tossed a scoreless inning. Joe Nathan retired three batters on ten pitches to close out the game.

The Chiefs take on Durham on Tuesday to begin a six-game road trip. Right-hander Greg Ross is slated to make his first Triple-A start for Syracuse while Brent Honeywell will start for the Bulls. The game begins at 7:05.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): Raudy Read scored the decisive run on a ground out in the second inning, as the Harrisburg Senators defeated the Bowie Baysox 2-1 on Sunday.

Read scored after he hit an RBI double and advanced to third on a flyout.

The ground out capped a two-run inning for the Senators that started when Read hit a double, scoring Mario Lisson.

Phillips Valdez got Adrian Marin to ground out with runners on first and second to end the game for his first save of the season.

In the top of the second, Bowie grabbed the lead on a single by Marin that scored Garabez Rosa.

Harrisburg right-hander John Simms (1-1) picked up the win after allowing one run on five hits over five innings. Opposing starter Brandon Barker (1-1) took the tough loss in the Eastern League game after giving up two runs and three hits over six innings.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina): Despite a steady onslaught of rain throughout the latter part of Sunday afternoon’s game, the Potomac Nationals (9-7) rallied from a 3-0 deficit and picked up a 4-3 victory over the Lynchburg Hillcats (8-8). Potomac scored a single run in the fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth innings, and earned their first win of 2017 when trailing after six frames.

For the third time in the three-game series, the Hillcats scored the first run of the game, and for the second consecutive game, it came in the first inning. After RHP Wirkin Estevez (ND) retired the first two Lynchburg hitters that he faced, 1B Sicnarf Loopstok reached on an error by 3B Kelvin Gutierrez. RF Andrew Calica followed with a single, and DH Martin Cervenka made it 1-0 with an RBI single.

Once the rain began, it appeared as though Lynchburg may have put the game away with two runs in the fourth inning. C Daniel Salters, CF Jodd Carter, and SS Willi Castro each hit consecutive singles. Castro’s base hit made it 2-0 Lynchburg, while 2B Sam Haggerty made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.

Opposite Estevez, RHP Matt Esparza (ND) dazzled over five innings, as he struck out a season-best nine batters. Esparza gave up just one run, and it was unearned. CF Dale Carey reached on a fielder’s choice groundout in the fifth inning, took second base on an errant pickoff attempt by Esparza, made it to third base on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI single by SS David Masters. Esparza left in line for the victory, but the Lynchburg bullpen faltered on numerous occasions.

RHP Justin Garcia entered for the top of the sixth inning, and his first pitch to 1B Ian Sagdal left the ballpark. Sagdal’s third home run of the season made it a one-run deficit for the P-Nats. RHP Argenis Angulo (BS, 2) entered for the eighth inning, and he gave up a two-out rally. C Taylor Gushue doubled with two outs, and RF Rhett Wiseman tied the game with an RBI single.

Tied as the game went to the ninth inning, RHP Leandro Linares (L, 0-1) got Carey for the first out of the inning. Masters and DH Bryan Mejia followed with consecutive singles, but Linares got 2B Austin Davidson to fly out on the first pitch of the at-bat. Sagdal followed with a routine ground ball to Castro, but the shortstop’s throw to second base in an attempt to get Mejia was high and went off the glove of Haggerty. The error was charged to Haggerty, which allowed Masters to score what ended up as the game-winning run.

The Potomac bullpen required just one reliever, as LHP Matthew Crownover (W, 3-0) was perfect in relief of Estevez. Crownover got the final out in the sixth inning, and then set down the side in order in the seventh, eighth, and ninth frames. Crownover retired all 10 men that he faced, as he tallied his team-leading third win of the season.

After a league wide off day on Monday, the P-Nats will return to Pfitzner Stadium and begin a three-game series with the Frederick Keys. Tuesday night, RHP Luis Reyes (1-2, 3.94) will make his second start of the season vs. the Keys. He tallied his first win of the year vs. Frederick, as the righty allowed just two earned runs on eight hits over six innings on April 12th. LHP Brian Gonzalez (0-2, 5.65) will make the start for the Keys. The lefty enters the series off of his best performance thus far, as he allowed just two earned runs over six innings in a no-decision against Winston-Salem on April 19th. First pitch at Pfitzner Stadium is set for 7:05pm.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): Suns center fielder Blake Perkins tallied two walk-off base hits in one afternoon during a doubleheader sweep of the Delmarva Shorebirds on Sunday with a three-run homer to win the opener, 4-1, followed by a bases-loaded single in extra innings for a 5-4 triumph in the finale.

Perkins, a second-round draft pick by the Washington Nationals in 2015, entered the day without a walk-off tally in his three-year professional career. He finished 4-for-8 with four runs scored, four RBIs and two game-winning hits during 16 innings of baseball at Municipal Stadium.

The Suns (12-6) trailed 1-0 in the first of two seven-inning games before Perkins led off the sixth inning with a double and later scored the tying-run on a Juan Soto single. Perkins came back to the plate with two runners aboard and one out in the seventh and delivered his first home run of the season to set off a celebration.

In the nightcap, Perkins reached base in each of his first two at-bats, scoring both times on Soto RBIs. The Suns trailed 3-2 entering the seventh but Aldrem Corredor tied it up with one swing of the bat and forced extra innings with a lead-off, solo homer.

Preston Palmeiro, son of former Baltimore Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, put the Shorebirds ahead with a solo home run of his own against Suns reliever Kyle Simonds (Win, 2-0) in the top of the eight but Carter Kieboom tied up the game again with a towering, 417-foot shot over the left field wall.

With another walk-off opportunity, the Suns wasted no time in the bottom of the ninth. Daniel Johnson and Jorge Tillero got aboard with singles before Angelo LaBruna executed a fake bunt, swinging from one knee for a looping single into left. That set the table again for Perkins, who fired a sharp single up the middle for his second game-winning hit in less than three hours.

Suns southpaw Hayden Howard made his first professional start in the series finale and took a no-decision after giving up three earned runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Suns relief pitcher Mick VanVossen (Win, 2-0) picked up a victory in the opening game on Sunday. He allowed a solo home run in two innings of work with four strikeouts.

The Suns won three of four games during the home series against Delmarva thanks to three walk-off base hits. Jake Noll landed a ninth-inning, bases-loaded single to finish the first game of Friday’s doubleheader with the Shorebirds, 4-3. Hagerstown is now 10-0 when scoring four runs or more this season.

The Suns own the best record in the SAL and continue their week-long homestand Monday night when the Annapolis Intimidators visit for the first of three games. Suns righty Sterling Sharp heads to the mound at 6:05 p.m.

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