Washington Nationals Minor League Notebook: April 26

Photo: @MiLB

By Michael Marzzacco

Compiled via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs dropped a second straight game to the Durham Bulls, 5-2, on Wednesday morning at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Matt Skole homered for the second game in a row, but Syracuse lost its second game in 18 hours to open the six-game road trip.

Syracuse (8-9) scored first for the eighth time in the last nine games. In the third inning, Adrian Sanchez doubled to start the frame against Ryan Yarbrough. Sanchez moved to third on a groundout, and scored on Rafael Bautista‘s groundout to second to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead.
Durham (13-6) answered back and took the lead in the fourth. Jake Bauers singled and Patrick Leonard doubled to start the inning against Chiefs starter Austin Voth. Bauers scored on Casey Gillaspie’s groundout to tie the game. Leonard then scored on a Mike Marjama single to give the Bulls the lead at 2-1.
The Bulls added another run in the fifth on a wild pitch. Granden Goetzman singled, stole second, moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 3-1.
Skole’s second home run in as many games cut the Bulls’ lead to one in the sixth. The Chiefs first baseman hit his team-leading fourth of the season, smashing a fly ball over the center-field fence to slice the lead to a run.
Durham, however, answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth. Austin Adams walked Marjama to start the inning. Marjama stole second and scored two batters later on Goetzman’s single to center, to push the lead to 4-2.
Dayron Varona caped the scoring in the eighth, hitting his second home run of the season off Chiefs reliever Trevor Gott for a 5-2 Bulls lead.
After only waiting 12 and one-half hours to return to the field Wednesday morning, Syracuse and Durham will get a 30-hour break before concluding the series Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Taylor Hill is scheduled to start for the Chiefs against a Bulls starter to be announced.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): Tom Eshelman hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning, leading the Reading Fightin Phils to a 4-2 win over the Harrisburg Senators on Wednesday. The Fightin Phils swept the short two-game series with the win.

The home run by Eshelman scored Mitch Walding and Angelo Mora to give the Fightin Phils a 3-1 lead.

The Senators cut into the deficit in the sixth inning when Drew Ward hit a solo home run.

The Fightin Phils tacked on another run in the seventh when Aaron Brown hit a solo home run.

Reading right-hander Eshelman (2-0) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing two runs on six hits over six innings. Opposing starter Erick Fedde (1-2) took the loss in the Eastern League game after he allowed four runs on just four hits over seven innings. Jesen Therrien retired the side in order for his second save of the season.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): After rain washed out the series opener between the Potomac Nationals (10-8) and Frederick Keys (9-10) on Tuesday night, the two squads split a doubleheader Wednesday evening at Pfitzner Stadium. Frederick used a four-run sixth inning in the 5-2 game one victory, while DH Austin Davidson hit two home runs and drove in five in Potomac’s 11-3 game two win.

In the opener of the twin bill, both sides got great starting pitching through the first five innings. Potomac RHP Luis Reyes (L, 1-3) allowed just one run on three hits over the first five innings, but was charged with four earned runs in the sixth frame. For the Keys, LHP Brian Gonzalez (W, 1-2) allowed just two runs on four hits over five innings.

The Keys got on the board first against Reyes, as the bottom of the order did damage in the third inning. CF Stuart Levy doubled with one out, moved to third base on a single by RF Josh Hart, and scored on an RBI groundout from 2B Steve Wilkerson. Potomac leveled the score in the next half inning, as 2B David Masters led off with a single, and he later scored on C Taylor Gushue’s bases loaded walk. Potomac left the bases loaded in the third inning, something the squad did on three different occasions in the loss.

Frederick broke things open with a four-run sixth inning against Reyes. After just three hits over five innings, the Keys tallied three base hits in the top of the sixth. CF Austin Hays made it 3-1 with a two-run home run, LF Randolph Gassaway made it 4-1 with an RBI double, and Gassaway later scored on a wild pitch.

Gonzalez pitched to one batter in the sixth inning, as he walked Gutierrez before he departed for RHP Christian Turnipseed. Turnipseed issued consecutive walks to Gushue and SS Edwin Lora, before a sacrifice fly made it 5-2. After CF Dale Carey drew a walk, Frederick went back to the bullpen, as LHP Mitch Horacek retired Masters and then struck out LF Jack Sundberg. The P-Nats loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh inning, but RHP Jay Flaa (SV, 1) retired Gushue, Lora, and Wiseman in order, as he secured Frederick’s win. In the loss, Potomac went 0-11 with RISP and left 11 men on base.

The second half of the doubleheader was a rout pretty much from the get go for the P-Nats. Potomac tagged RHP Franderlin Romero (L, 0-2) for two runs in the first inning and another five in the second frame. Sundberg led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, and Davidson’s first home run of the season, a two-run shot, made it 2-0 Potomac. In the bottom of the second inning, Davidson drew a two-out walk, which loaded the bases, and 1B Ian Sagdal followed with a grand slam, his fourth home run of the season. Romero allowed seven earned runs over just three innings.

On the mound for Potomac, LHP Hector Silvestre (W, 3-0) came within two outs of the first complete game shutout in the Carolina League in 2017. Silvestre, who allowed three runs over 6.2 innings, allowed only three hits over the first six innings, but then surrendered three hits in the final frame. After Davidson hit his second home run of the game, a three-run blast, in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Keys got a leadoff single in the seventh frame from Gassaway. Silvestre retired 3B Jomar Reyes, before C Yermin Mercedes broke up the shutout attempt with an RBI double. Silvestre then got 1B Alex Murphy to fly out, but gave up an RBI single to DH Stuart Levy. Levy ended the Potomac starter’s night, as RHP Ronald Pena came out of the bullpen. Pena walked 2B Drew Turbin, and then gave up an RBI double to Wilkerson, before he closed out the Potomac win with a strikeout.

Potomac set a 2017 single game high with four home runs in the back half of the doubleheader, while Davidson matched his own 2017 P-Nats single game high with five RBIs. Davidson also had the first multi-home run game of the season for Potomac.

After the doubleheader split, the P-Nats sit in second place in the Northern Division, one game behind the Salem Red Sox. In the finale against the Keys, RHP Jefry Rodriguez (1-1, 5.63) is set to make the start for Potomac. Last time out, Rodriguez earned his first win of the season, as he allowed only two earned runs over six innings against Lynchburg

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): Sterling Sharp and McKenzie Mills combined to strike out 14 batters in 11 2/3 innings and catcher Jorge Tillero drove in three runs as the Suns (13-7) settled for a doubleheader split with the Kannapolis Intimidators (9-10) on Wednesday at Municipal Stadium

Sharp (Loss, 0-1) answered an early wake-up call in the opener of two seven-inning contests with first pitch at 10:35 a.m. The 22-year-old righty from Southfield, Michigan gave up only two hits in six complete innings, including a solo homer by Intimidators catcher Seby Zavala. Sharp finished with a career-best 8 strikeouts.

The Suns managed only two base hits in the first game and struck out seven times in a 1-0 loss to former Washington Nationals first-round-pick, Dane Dunning (Win, 2-0), who was traded to the Chicago White Sox as part of the offseason deal that landed Adam Eaton in the Nationals outfield.

In the second game, Mills (Win, 3-1) fired out of the gate by striking out five of the first six Intimidators he faced and Jake Noll put the Suns ahead in the bottom of the first with a double down the left field line that scored Carter Kieboom from second. 

Tillero added to that lead with a two-run double to left in the fourth, scoring Nick Banks and Anderson Franco , before adding another double that scored Franco again in the sixth. Tillero went 2-for-3 in the game with 3 RBI and finished the homestead 6-for-10 at the plate.

Mills finished with six strikeouts and handed the baton to Jordan Mills (Save, 2) in the sixth. He allowed one inherited runner to score on a base hit, but picked up his team-leading second save this season after recording the final four outs in a 4-1 victory.

The doubleheader served as makeup after games on Monday and Tuesday were washed away by rain. The Suns finished 4-2 on the homestand with three consecutive doubleheaders, including a pair of two-gamers against Delmarva last Friday and again on Sunday.

Next up, the Suns travel to Lexington, Kentucky four a weekend series with the Legends. The first of four games at Whitaker Bank Ballpark is set for Thursday at 7:05 p.m. RHP James Bourque draws the start against the Legends just two nights after they were held hitless in Lexington during a nine-inning perfect game thrown by Domenic Mazza of the August GreenJackets. 



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