Nationals Minor League Notebook: April 27-30

Photo: @MiLB

By Michael Marzzacco

Nationals minor league updates from Thursday through Sunday.

Compiled via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League):

April 27: The Syracuse Chiefs dropped the final game of a three-game series, 13-3, to the Durham Bulls on Thursday. Durham posted season highs in hits and runs for Chiefs opponents in the victory.

Syracuse (8-10) started the scoring for the ninth time in the last 10 games in the second inning. Matt Skole walked against Bulls starter Jeff Ames to start the frame. Pedro Severino then doubled to put runners on second and third, and then Caleb Ramsey doubled home Skole to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead.
Durham (14-6) answered right back in the bottom of the second. Patrick Leonard led off the inning with a home run off Taylor Hill to tie the game. The long ball was the first of five hits for Leonard on the night. He also scored four runs – both of which were season highs for a Chiefs opponent.
The Bulls broke the game open with four in the bottom of the third, all with two outs. Granden Goetzman singled with one out. Two batters later, Willy Adames singled. Jake Bauers followed with a two-run double to give the Bulls a 3-1 lead, before Leonard doubled to plate Bauers for the third run of the inning. A hitter later, Mike Marjama knocked an RBI single to left to bring home Leonard and extend the lead to 5-1.
The game remained 5-1 until the sixth. Skole doubled to start a rally against Bulls reliever Edwin Fierro. Severino then singled to put the Chiefs back on the board at 5-2.
Again, the Bulls immediately answered. For the second time in the game, Durham led off the half-inning after a Syracuse run with a solo home run, with Casey Gillaspie pushing the lead to 6-2. After a groundout and a fly out, Goetzman doubled and Kean Wong singled him home for a 7-2 Bulls lead.
The Chiefs added a run in the seventh. Rafael Bautista doubled before FIerro left with an injury. After Adam Kolarek came out of the bullpen, Brian Goodwin singled to put runners on second and third. Clint Robinson then drove in Bautista on a groundout to first to get Syracuse back within four.
But the Bulls prevented a shutdown inning for the third time. With one out, Leonard singled for his fourth hit. He moved to second on a groundout and to third on a wild pitch by Mike Broadway. After a walk, Curt Casali singled home Leonard for an 8-3 lead. Varona then reached on an error on third baseman Matt Skole and Goetzman reached a batter later on an error on Grant Green at second to bring in Durham’s ninth run of the game.
Durham added three more two-out runs in the eighth. After Joe Nathan recorded the first two outs of the inning, Leonard singled, Marjama was hit by a pitch, and Gillaspie singled to load the bases. Casali brought home two runs on a single to push the Bulls’ advantage to 11-3. Varona then singled to bring in Gillaspie for a 12-3 advantage. Syracuse went to the bullpen, and Goetzman singled off Neal Cotts to cap the Bulls’ scoring with their 13th run of the game.
Syracuse will continue its road trip in Norfolk starting Friday at 7:05 p.m. A.J. Cole is scheduled to start for the Chiefs opposite Tyler Wilson for the Tides.

April 28: The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Norfolk Tides, 7-4, Friday night at Harbor Park in Norfolk. Syracuse rallied to tie the game with a four-run fifth inning, but the Tides answered with three in the bottom of the inning for the decisive margin. The Chiefs have now dropped four consecutive games after entering the road trip on a six-game win streak.

Norfolk (8-13) started the scoring in the bottom of the first against A.J. Cole. Johnny Giavotella began with a double off the glove of Grant Green at third. Chris Dickerson followed with a single, and Pedro Alvarez hit a sacrifice fly to give the Tides a 1-0 lead. Robert Andino followed with a first-pitch, two-run home run to left-center field to push the lead to 3-0.
The Tides added a fourth run in the second. After back-to-back walks, Paul Janish reached on an error on Chiefs shortstop Adrian Sanchez to load the bases. Giavotella then hit a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 4-0.
Syracuse (8-11) finally got on the board in the fifth. Rafael Bautista and Brian Goodwin each singled to start the inning against Tides reliever Drew Magnifico. Clint Robinson and Matt Skole follow with back-to-back doubles, with Robinson driving in Bautista and Skole plating Goodwin and Robinson to bring the Chiefs within one. Two batters later, Corban Joseph singled to score Skole and tie the game.
The tie would be short-lived. Alvarez doubled with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, and Andino doubled him home a batter later to give the Tides the lead back at 5-4. After a groundout, David Washington singled to drive in Andino for a two-run lead. Washington then stole second and scored on Drew Dosch’s double to make the score 7-4.
Former Chief Richard Bleier entered the game in the eighth and collected a four-out save. Bleier, who has struck out 11 in nine innings of one-earned-run ball for the Tides, pitched for Syracuse in 2015 to the tune of a 2.75 ERA in 12 games (11 starts). He sported a 1.96 ERA last year in 23 games with the Yankees in his Major-League debut season.
The Chiefs and Tides will play game two of their three-game series at Harbor Park Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Kyle McGowin will make his Syracuse debut against Norfolk’s Gabriel Ynoa.

April 29: The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Norfolk Tides, 4-3, Saturday night at Harbor Park. The Chiefs launched several late rallies, but never took the lead, en route to their fifth consecutive loss.

Norfolk (9-13) started the scoring in the third off Chiefs starter Kyle McGowin. Logan Schafer walked to start the inning. After a Paul Janish single, Johnny Giavotella singled home Schafer to make the score 1-0 Tides. Janish and Giavotella each moved up a base on a fielding error on Chiefs right fielder Caleb Ramsey. Chris Dickerson followed with a walk to load the bases. McGowin then induced a ground-ball double play from right fielder Pedro Alvarez, but Janish scored from third to give the Tides a 2-0 lead.
In his Syracuse debut, McGowin threw four solid innings. The right-hander from Sag Harbor, New York allowed three hits and two earned runs, walking two and striking out three.
Syracuse (8-12), meanwhile, didn’t score in its first five innings against Tides right-hander Gabriel Ynoa. Shortstop Adrian Sanchez broke the ice in the sixth. He led off the inning with a home run off Gabriel Ynoa over the left-center field fence to bring the Chiefs within one. Sanchez has now slugged three home runs this season (two with Syracuse) after not homering in 2016. The three home runs already tie a career high for Sanchez.
The Tides would answer in the bottom of the sixth. David Washington’s two-out solo home run off Matt Grace pushed the lead to 3-1.

The Chiefs scratched across another against Ynoa in the seventh. Matt Skole walked and moved to third two batters later on Caleb Ramsey‘s double. After left-hander Paul Fry entered, Skole scored on Irving Falu’s groundout to first to bring Syracuse back within one.

For the second inning in a row, however, the Tides matched the Chiefs’ run with one in the bottom of the inning. Austin Adams walked Schafer to beginning the bottom of the seventh. Schafer stole second and moved to third on a groundout. Dickerson then singled with two outs to plate Schafer for a 4-2 Tides lead.
Syracuse launched one final rally in the eighth. Fry walked Corban Joseph and Clint Robinson on eight consecutive pitches to start the frame. Brandon Snyder followed with a pop up that fell in between three fielders in short right field, but Alvarez cut down Robinson on a force play at second base for the first out. With runners on the corners, Skole launched a long fly ball to straightaway center field, but fell just short of the fence for a sacrifice fly. Right-hander Jimmy Yacabonis entered fater the sacrifice fly and retired Pedro Severino before pitching a 1-2-3 ninth, with a Sanchez line out to second base closing the game.
Syracuse wraps up its six-game road trip Sunday afternoon at Harbor Park against Norfolk at 1:05 p.m. Greg Ross is scheduled to start for the Chiefs opposite Zach Stewart for the Tides.

April 30:

April 30 vs SYR (Steven Goldburg) (346)
Brian Goodwin celebrated his first home run of the season, a three-run shot. (Steven Goldburg | Norfolk Tides)
The Syracuse Chiefs snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday with a 7-6 win over the Norfolk Tides. Brian Goodwin and Brandon Snyder launched home runs in a five-run fifth, the Chiefs’ highest-scoring inning of the year, and Corban Joseph recorded the first four-hit game of Syracuse’s season. Rafael Martin closed the game out with the bases loaded in the ninth, sending the Chiefs into an off day with a victory.
After two perfect innings, Syracuse (9-12) powered its way to five runs in the third against Zach Stewart. Caleb Ramsey walked and Grant Green singled to begin the inning. After a strikeout, Goodwin launched his first home run of the season, a three-run shot over the right-field fence for a 3-0 lead. Two batters after a Joseph single, Snyder hit his fourth home run, a two-run blast down the left-field line, for a 5-0 Chiefs advantage.
Norfolk (9-13) grabbed a run in the bottom of the third. Michael Choice started the inning with a double off Greg Ross. He scored three batters later on a Johnny Giovatella fielder’s choice groundout.
The Tides came within one in the fourth. David Washington and Francisco Pena each singled with one out. Drew Dosch followed with a double to score Washington. Choice then grounded out to score Pena and make the score 5-3. Two batters after that, Henry Urrutia grounded a single up the middle, plating Dosch to cut the lead to a run.
The Chiefs answered back with a run in the fifth. Joseph doubled against Tides right-hander Steve Johnson. Syracuse’s second baseman scored two hitters later on Snyder’s single for a 6-4 Syracuse edge.
Once again, Norfolk cut the lead to a run. Pena brought the Tides back within one with a leadoff home run against Ross in the sixth inning.
In the ninth, the Chiefs grabbed a much-needed insurance run against Stefan Crichton. Adrian Sanchez doubled with one out on an 0-2 pitch, and two batters later, Joseph ended his brilliant day at the plate with a slicing single to left. The base hit scored Sanchez and put the Chiefs up 7-5.
Norfolk had one last gasp in the ninth against Chiefs right-hander Joe Nathan. With one out, Giavotella singled, Pedro Alvarez walked and Robert Andino singled to load the bases. After a strikeout of Washington, pinch-hitter Chance Sisco walked on five pitches, bringing the tying run to third and cutting the lead to one. Billy Gardner called for Martin out of the bullpen, and the right-hander delivered, getting ahead of Dosch before inducing a weak ground ball to second base on a 1-2 pitch.
Syracuse is off Monday before returning to NBT Bank Stadium Tuesday at 6:35 against the Pawtucket Red Sox. Austin Voth is scheduled to start for the Chiefs opposite Brian Johnson for the PawSox in the opener of a three-game series.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League):

April 27: OFF.

April 28Andrew Stevenson doubled and singled twice, scoring two runs as the Harrisburg Senators defeated the Altoona Curve 6-5 on Friday.

Raudy Read doubled and singled twice with two RBIs for Harrisburg.

Ryan Brinley got Jordan Luplow to fly out with runners on first and third to end the game for his third save of the season.

Harrisburg started the scoring in the first inning when Neftali Soto hit an RBI single and Read hit an RBI double.

Altoona answered in the bottom of the frame, scoring two runs to tie the game on an RBI double by Kevin Kramer and an RBI single by Edwin Espinal.

The Senators took the lead for good in the second when Alec Keller hit an RBI single, scoring Mark Blackmar.

Altoona saw its comeback attempt come up short after Jackson Williams hit an RBI single and then scored on a double by Connor Joe in the eighth to cut the Harrisburg lead to 6-5.

Harrisburg right-hander Blackmar (3-1) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing three runs on eight hits over six innings. Opposing starter Austin Coley (0-1) took the loss in the Eastern League game after a rough outing in which he allowed five runs and nine hits over three innings.

April 29: Yeudy Garcia allowed just five hits over 5 2/3 innings, leading the Altoona Curve over the Harrisburg Senators in a 12-4 win on Saturday.

Garcia allowed one run while striking out five and walking two.

With the game tied 1-1, the Curve took the lead for good with two runs in the sixth inning. Connor Joe hit an RBI single en route to the two-run lead.

The Curve later added seven runs in the seventh and two in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Tate Scioneaux (4-0) got the win with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief while Harrisburg starter John Simms (1-2) took the loss in the Eastern League game.

Altoona took advantage of some erratic Harrisburg pitching, drawing a season-high 10 walks in its victory.

Alec Keller doubled and singled three times for the Senators.

April 30: Kevin Kramer hit a run-scoring triple in the third inning, leading the Altoona Curve to a 3-2 win over the Harrisburg Senators on Sunday.

Miguel Rosario got Raudy Read to fly out with a runner on second to end the game for his first save of the season.

The triple by Kramer came in the midst of a three-run inning and gave the Curve a 2-1 lead. Later in the inning, Edwin Espinal hit an RBI single, scoring Kramer.

In the top of the fourth, Harrisburg cut into the deficit on a double by Osvaldo Abreu that scored Stephen Perez.

Altoona right-hander Alex McRae (3-0) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing two runs on six hits over seven innings. Opposing starter Jaron Long (2-3) took the loss in the Eastern League game after allowing three runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Abreu tripled and doubled, scoring a run and also driving one home for the Senators.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League):

April 27: OFF.

April 28: In their first matchup since they became division rivals, the Potomac Nationals (11-9) fell to the Salem Red Sox (13-8) 6-2 at Friday night. The P-Nats rallied from an early 1-0 deficit, but saw walks plague RHP Joan Baez (L, 0-3) once again. Baez did not issue a walk over the first three frames, but he walked three and hit a batter in the fourth inning, and then issued two more walks in the fifth. In each of those innings, Salem plated multiple runs.

The Red Sox struck first with a run in the first inning, as they improved to 10-1 when they score the first run of the game. 2B Josh Tobias doubled down the right field line with one out, and DH Michael Chavis made it 1-0 with a two-out RBI single. Baez settled in after that and retired seven straight Salem hitters.

Potomac finally got to RHP Travis Lakins (W, 3-0) in the fourth inning. After the P-Nats had a man reach base in each of the first three innings but failed to score, they had three straight singles that began the fourth frame. 1B Ian Sagdal, 3B Kelvin Gutierrez, and C Taylor Gushue each had a base hit, as Gushue’s RBI single tied the game. Lakins escaped, as he retired the next three hitters.

As soon as the P-Nats tied the game, Salem took the lead back. Baez issued back-to-back walks to 1B Josh Ockimey and Chavis to open the bottom of the fourth inning, and the right-handed starter then hit C Austin Rei in the helmet. The one out HBP loaded the bases, and Baez then walked in a run. A wild pitch plated another run, as Salem led 3-1 after four innings.

Command was an issue in the following inning for Baez as well, as the Potomac starter failed to make it through the fifth inning. Baez issued a leadoff walk to CF Tate Matheny, gave up a single to Tobias, while Ockimey made it 4-1 with a sacrifice fly. Chavis walked, which ended Baez’s night. RHP Whit Mayberry entered and gave up a two-run triple to SS Chad De La Guerra, the first man that he faced. De La Guerra’s extra-base hit made it 6-1.

Lakins departed after five innings, as RHP Yankory Pimentel entered from the Salem bullpen. Sagdal led off the sixth inning with a single, and the Potomac first baseman later scored his second run of the game on Gushue’s sacrifice fly. After Sagdal’s single, Pimentel retired six straight batters. RHP Trevor Kelley gave up a leadoff single to RF Rhett Wiseman in the ninth, but the righty struck out 2B Bryan Mejia and wrapped up the game with a double play.

Off of the loss, Potomac will aim to even the series on Saturday night. RHP Wirkin Estevez (0-1, 5.51) is set to start for the P-Nats. Estevez has allowed just three total earned runs over his last two starts, which total 11.2 innings. On the mound for Salem, LHP Matt Kent (1-1, 4.71) will look for a fourth straight impressive start. Kent has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last three starts. First pitch is set for 6:05pm.

April 29: Saturday night, the Potomac Nationals (12-9) took full advantage of a shaky start from LHP Matt Kent (L, 1-2) and a pair of errors by the Salem Red Sox (13-9) in route to a 10-3 win. Potomac tallied two doubles, three triples, and two home runs in the victory, while RHP Wirkin Estevez (W, 1-1) recorded his second quality start of the season.

A back and forth game for the first four innings saw Salem score each half frame after the P-Nats tallied a run. Potomac got on the board first with a sacrifice fly from RF Rhett Wiseman in the second inning, but the Red Sox responded with a pair of runs in the home half of the frame. Salem got a single from each of the first three hitters that came to the plate in the inning, as an RBI base hit from C Austin Rei tied the game, and a wild pitch by Estevez put the Red Sox on top 2-1.

After each pitcher worked a scoreless third frame, each allowed a run in the fourth inning. Potomac took advantage of a two-out walk, as Wiseman came through once again with an RBI double, which made it 2-2. Once again, Salem answered immediately, as 3B Jose Sermo put the Red Sox back in the lead with his first home run of the season. Sermo’s solo blast made it 3-2 Salem, but it was the final time that the Red Sox scored.

The P-Nats rattled off the final eight runs of the game, with three runs in the fifth inning, one run in the sixth, three runs in the eighth, and a final run in the ninth.

Salem gave away the lead in the top of the fifth inning, as CF Dale Carey led off the frame with his first home run of the season. After LF Jack Sundberg extended his hit streak to eight games with a single, 2B Bryan Mejia put Potomac ahead with an RBI double. Two batters later, 3B Kelvin Gutierrez made it 5-3 with an RBI triple, one of three triples on the night for Potomac. Kent departed after five innings. The lefty allowed five runs on seven hits in his second consecutive loss.

Estevez worked in and out of trouble throughout his six innings of work, as the righty allowed three runs on eight hits. Only one of Salem’s hits went for extra bases, and Estevez induced a season high three double plays in the start.

Out of the Salem bullpen, LHP Bobby Poyner gave up a solo home run to SS David Masters, but retired the other six men that he faced over the sixth and seventh innings. RHP Mitchel Osnowitz had the misfortune of two errors behind him, as Potomac put the game away with three runs in the eighth inning. Gushue reached on a fielding error by 1B Josh Ockimey, while DH Edwin Lora walked and Wiseman singled. With the bases loaded, Masters grounded out to Sermo, but the third baseman’s throw pulled Salem catcher Austin Rei off of the plate. The third baseman was charged with a throwing error. Carey then brought home a run with a groundout, while Mejia had an RBI single, as the P-Nats led 9-3 after 7.5 innings. In the ninth, Gutierrez led off with a triple and scored on an RBI single by Gushue one batter alter.

Out of the Potomac bullpen, RHP Gilberto Mendez (SV, 1) faced just two more than the minimum over three-shutout innings. The righty retired nine of the final 10 men that he faced. All nine starters for Potomac reached base at least once, while eight of the nine tallied at least one hit. Five different P-Nats recorded two hits in the win.

With a chance for a series win and first place in the Northern Division, the P-Nats will turn to LHP Matthew Crownover (3-0, 0.68) on Sunday afternoon. Crownover tossed five-shutout innings in his only start of the year, a victory as part of a doubleheader against the Down East Wood Ducks on 4/18. For the Red Sox, LHP Daniel McGrath (0-2, 6.50) will aim to bounce back from consecutive starts in which he has allowed at least four earned runs and not made it beyond four innings. First pitch of the rubber match is set for 1:05pm.

April 30: Despite batting out of order and nearly losing the game because of it, the Salem Red Sox (14-9) escaped with a walk-off win over the Potomac Nationals (12-10) Sunday afternoon. 3B Jose Sermo, who homered in each of the final two games of the series, tallied a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 9th inning in the 5-4 Red Sox victory.

The Red Sox plated the first run of the game, but fell to 10-2 when they score first. With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, CF Tate Matheny hit a solo home run off of LHP Matthew Crownover (ND). Crownover allowed just one run over five innings. The left-handed Potomac starter struck out three and surrendered only three hits.

LHP Daniel McGrath (ND) did not get any help from his defense in the fourth inning, as the P-Nats plated three runs in the frame. An error by 2B Chad De La Guerra allowed the first to Potomac hitters to reach safely, McGrath retired the next two, but with two outs, C Jake Lowery put Potomac in the lead with a two-run double, and LF Telmito Agustin plated Lowery with a double, as Potomac took a 3-1 lead. All three runs were unearned.

The score remained 3-1 until Salem chipped away in the bottom of the sixth inning vs. RHP Ronald Pena. With one out, Sermo homered over the left field wall, his second home run in as many games. The P-Nats quickly answered and built the lead back to two runs against RHP Gerson Bautista. Agustin drew a leadoff walk in the seventh inning, moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by 2B Bryan Mejia, and scored on an RBI single by 3B Austin Davidson. Potomac left Davidson at third base, and got just one more baserunner in the game.

Potomac’s bullpen faltered once again in the eighth inning, as the first three men reached vs. RHP Mariano Rivera (BS, 1). Rivera gave up two singles and walked one before an RBI groundout from LF Mike Meyers cut Potomac’s lead to one. RF Kyri Washington followed with a game-tying RBI single, while 1B Josh Ockimey followed with a pinch-hit intentional walk.

That’s where craziness ensued. With the bases loaded, SS Deiner Lopez grounded out to Mejia, who’s throw to the plate went to the backstop, which allowed two runs to score. At least it appeared that way. Potomac manager Tripp Keister stepped out of the Potomac dugout and began a conversation with home plate umpire Austin Jones, pointing to his lineup card. After a conversation between the two umpires, it was determined that the lineup card presented by Salem at the beginning of the game had Lopez as the nine hitter, not in the eighth position as he had been batting. C Jhon Nunez was ruled out while standing on deck, and Sermo was then thrown out at the plate on a ball that initially got away from Lowery behind the plate. Despite the miscue, Salem left the eighth with a tie game.

The P-Nats got a leadoff walk from Agustin in the top of the ninth inning, but that was all the team managed against RHP Adam Lau (W, 1-2). In the bottom of the ninth, RHP Sam Held (L, 0-1) walked the first two men that he faced. After DH Michael Chavis flied out to the warning track in left field, Sermo followed with a ball that got caught in the wind, and dropped out of the reach of Agustin in left field. The walk-off single gave Salem a 5-4 win and kept the Red Sox in first place in the Northern Division.

Off of a tough series loss, the P-Nats will head down to Kinston, NC and begin a three-game series with the Down East Wood Ducks Monday night. RHP Luis Reyes (1-3, 4.91) is set to start for Potomac in the series opener. Reyes allowed three earned runs over five innings in a loss to the Wood Ducks as part of a doubleheader on 4/18. For Down East, RHP Richelson Pena (1-1, 3.07) will make his third start and sixth appearance of the season. Pena allowed two earned runs over three innings in a loss to Potomac as part of the same doubleheader on 4/18. First pitch from Grainger Stadium is set for 7:00pm.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic):

April 27: Kort Peterson homered and singled three times, driving in three runs and scoring a pair as the Lexington Legends topped the Hagerstown Suns 12-2 on Thursday.

Gabriel Cancel doubled and singled twice with three runs for Lexington.

With the game tied 1-1 in the second, Lexington took the lead when Nick Dini hit a two-run home run.

After Lexington added a run in the third when Cancel scored on an error, the Suns cut into the deficit in the sixth inning when Sheldon Neuse hit an RBI single, driving in Blake Perkins.

The Legends punctuated the blowout with five runs in the seventh and three in the eighth. In the seventh, Chris DeVito hit a three-run home run, while Peterson hit a three-run home run in the eighth.

Lexington southpaw Garrett Davila (2-0) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing two runs on six hits over six innings. Opposing starter James Bourque (0-1) took the loss in the South Atlantic League game after allowing four runs and four hits over four innings. Jace Vines pitched three scoreless innings for his second save of the season.

Lexington took advantage of some erratic Hagerstown pitching, drawing a season-high six walks in its victory.

For the Suns, Juan Soto homered and singled.

April 28: Chris DeVito and Khalil Lee hit grand slams to lead the Lexington Legends to a 16-4 win over the Hagerstown Suns on Friday.

Lexington had three big innings in the blowout victory, scoring four runs in the first inning, seven runs in the third and four runs in the fifth.

The key inning was the first, when DeVito hit a grand slam.

Lexington right-hander Gerson Garabito (3-1) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing three runs on four hits over six innings. Opposing starter Carlos Pena (1-1) took the loss in the South Atlantic League game after allowing 10 runs and seven hits over 2 2/3 innings.

For the Suns, Daniel Johnson homered and doubled, scoring a couple of runs while also driving home two.

April 29Suns catcher Tres Barrera allowed a passed ball to score the tying run for the Legends in the bottom of the ninth but made amends with his bat in top of the 11th on a home run to left field that put Hagerstown (14-9) ahead for good in a 5-4 road win at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

The Legends (9-15) nearly walked off the Suns in the bottom of the ninth. With the bases loaded and one out, Suns manager Patrick Anderson called Jordan Mills (Blown Save, 1) out of the bullpen, but Barrera allowed a passed ball to the first batter faced and Emmanuel Barrera scored to tie the game, 4-4. 

Lexington continued threatening with one out and runners at second and third, but Mark Sanchez grounded to third and Sheldon Neuse threw home to Barrera, who tagged out Angelo Castellano. Juan Soto secured the inning-ending out on a fly ball to left and the Suns survived into extra innings.

Mills (Win, 3-0) picked up his team-leading third victory of the season after Barrera launched his second home run of the year during the top of the 11th and Mills set down the Legends to finish the ballgame. 

Suns designated hitter Nick Banks led with three runs batted in. He cut the Legends lead to 3-2 with an RBI single in the sixth and then in the eighth, after a game-tying fielder’s choice for Daniel Johnson allowed Soto to score, Banks put the Suns in front, 4-3, with an RBI forecourt to score Neuse. 

Following back-to-back losses with a combined 28 runs allowed, the Suns avoided a season-worst third straight loss thanks to strong pitching by starter Tyler Watson , who struck out a career-best eight batters in six innings, and Mick VanVossen , who allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings of relief work.

On Sunday at 2:05 p.m., the Suns will swing for a split of the four-game series in Lexington. 20-year-old lefty Yonathan Ramirez (0-0, 0.00) will make his first career start with Hagerstown against Legends southpaw Andre Davis (2-1, 3.27).

The Suns return to Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. for the first of three games against the Rome Braves. The seven-day homestand will continue with four games against the Hickory Crawdads from May 5-8.

April 30: The top offense in the South Atlantic League showed its muscle on Sunday as the Hagerstown Suns (15-9) tallied a new league record with 30 base hits in their 22-4 win over the Lexington Legends (9-16) at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

The Suns eclipsed the previous single-team record of 29 hits set by the Greenville Bombers on June 25, 2005. Hagerstown and Lexington also combined to tie the SAL record of 42 combined hits set by Augusta and Kannapolis on June 27, 2010.

Suns shortstop and Washington Nationals top-five prospect Carter Kieboom enjoyed his best day at the plate in two professional seasons with five base hits in seven at-bats, three home runs, four runs scored, and five runs batted in; all either tying or beating the previous highs set by a Suns hitter this season.

In 56 previous games with the Hagerstown Suns and Gulf Coast League Nationals, Kieboom had never tallied a multi-homer game. He missed the cycle on Sunday by a triple.

Three other Hagerstown hitters matched Kieboom with five base hits: second baseman Jake Noll (5-for-7, three runs, four RBI), catcher Jorge Tillero (5-for-7, run scored, two RBI), and designated hitter Aldrem Corredor (5-for-6, three runs, RBI).

Suns first baseman Anderson Franco also enjoyed a career-best afternoon with five runs batted in on four base hits and four runs scored. Franco is currently ranked a top-15 prospect in the Nationals minor league system.

The Suns belted six home runs as a team, doubling their previous high of three in a single game this season. Third baseman Sheldon Neuse, Noll, and Franco each hit a round-tripper on Sunday in the most lopsided road win by Hagerstown in 2017.

Suns first-time starting pitcher Yonathan Ramirez allowed just one hit in four scoreless innings but did not reach the minimum five innings to record a win. 19-year-old Steven Fuentes (Win, 1-0) picked up his first victory with Hagerstown after 3 1/3 innings of relief, allowing three earned runs on eight hits.

Legends lefty starter Andre Davis (Loss, 2-2) gave up seven earned runs and four home runs to the Suns in 3 2/3 innings pitched.

Hagerstown exploded for six runs in the fourth inning and held a commanding 10-0 lead after seven before scoring six more runs in both the eighth and ninth innings. The game lasted three hours and 41 minutes; the longest nine-inning contest played by the Suns this season.

Lexington blitzed the Suns with 28 combined runs in two double-digit wins to open the series, but the Suns bounced back with an extra-inning victory on Saturday night, followed by their record-setting Sunday finale against the last-place Legends from the SAL Southern Division.

By splitting the four-game series in Kentucky, Hagerstown remains atop the SAL Northern Division standings, two-and-a-half games clear of second-place Lakewood.

The Suns return to Municipal Stadium in Hagerstown on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. for the first of three games against the Rome Braves. The seven-day homestand will continue with four games against the Hickory Crawdads from May 5-8.


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