Nationals Minor League Notebook: May 3

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Photo: @HagerstownSuns

By Michael Marzzacco

Compiled via team press releases: 

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Jhonatan Solano broke the all-time Chiefs record, catching his 325th game, on Wednesday. (Danny Tripodi | Syracuse Chiefs)

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Pawtucket Red Sox, 7-0, Wednesday afternoon at NBT Bank Stadium. The Chiefs walked a season-high 10 times in the game, but left 14 runners on base in the odd defeat.

Pawtucket (12-12) kicked off the scoring in the top of the first against Syracuse (9-14) starter Taylor Hill. Aneury Tavarez homered on a shot to right-center field to put the PawSox up 1-0. After a Deven Marrero fly out, Rusney Castillo doubled. The center fielder later scored on a Sam Travis single to double the Pawtucket lead.

The PawSox extended their lead in the fourth. Travis singled to lead off the inning, part of a two-hit day. The next batter, Steve Selsky, blasted a fly ball over the right-field fence for his second homer of the series, plating Travis and extending Pawtucket’s lead 4-0.

The home-run ball continued to hurt the Chiefs in the fifth. Tavarez hit his second homer over the right-center-field fence and extended the PawSox lead to 5-0. Two batters later, Castillo drilled the fourth home run of the day over the right-field fence, putting Pawtucket ahead 6-0.

The PawSox got to Chiefs reliever Mike Broadway in the seventh inning. With one out, three consecutive Pawtucket singles loaded the bases for Castillo. The Cuban outfielder hit a soft ground ball to Irving Falu at shortstop, plating Dan Butler and extending the lead to 7-0.

The Chiefs threatened to break through in the eighth inning when Pawtucket reliever Erik Cordier walked three of the first four batters to start the frame. The right-hander settled in, however, and got the final two outs of the inning to keep Syracuse scoreless.

In a bizarre day at the plate for Syracuse, Chiefs batters walked a season-high 10 times, struck out 11 times, recorded just three hits, and left a season-high-tying 14 runners on base.

The game marked the 325th caught by Jhonatan Solano in his Chiefs career. That broke Dick West’s 68-year-old franchise record for the most games caught by a Syracuse Chiefs player. Solano walked in five at-bats and threw out Aneury Tavarez for his first caught base-stealer of the year.

The last of a three-game set between the Chiefs and PawSox is scheduled for 6:35 on Thursday night. Right-hander Kyle McGowin is set to take the mound for Syracuse opposite right-hander Marcus Walden for Pawtucket.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): Domingo German struck out nine hitters over six innings, leading the Trenton Thunder over the Harrisburg Senators in a 6-0 win on Wednesday. With the victory, the Thunder swept the three-game series.

German (1-3) allowed three hits while walking one to get the win.

All six runs came in the fourth inning, including a two-run triple by Devyn Bolasky.

Mark Blackmar (3-2) went four innings, allowing six runs and six hits while walking four in the Eastern League game.

The Senators were held off the scoreboard for the fourth time this season, while the Thunder’s staff recorded their sixth shutout of the year.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): The Potomac Nationals (14-11) came within six outs of a no-hitter on Wednesday afternoon, as the Down East Wood Ducks (12-15) went hitless over the first seven innings and fell 1-0. RHP Jefry Rodriguez (W, 3-1) allowed a leadoff double to C Chuck Moorman in the eighth inning, the only hit the right-handed starter allowed. Rodriguez struck out a season high eight batters over eight-shutout innings.

The only run of the game came in the top of the third inning. Potomac CF Victor Robles hit a one-out home run over the right-centerfield wall, his second home run of the season. The P-Nats tallied five hits against RHP Jeff Springs (L, 0-3), as the Down East starter recorded a career high 10 strikeouts.

Rodriguez rarely dealt with a threat over his eight-inning outing. He hit 3B Josh Altmann in the second inning, but induced a double play. The righty also walked a batter in the inning, but stranded Moorman at second base. SS Arturo Lara drew a leadoff walk in the sixth inning, but Rodriguez retired the next three hitters. The right-handed starter hit Altmann again in the seventh inning, but got DH Josh Morgan to ground into a double play. Moorman led off the bottom of the eighth with a double, but the Wood Ducks left him at third base.

Ahead 1-0, the P-Nats had a chance to add insurance runs in the final frame. LHP Brady Feigl loaded the bases with no outs on two walks and a bunt single, but the lefty escaped. Feigl struck out C Jake Lowery and LF Telmito Agustin, before Robles grounded out.

After eight frames from Rodriguez, RHP Gilberto Mendez (SV, 2) closed the books on the Potomac victory. Mendez gave up a leadoff double to 2B Luis Mendez, but tallied a strikeout, got 1B Carlos Garay to fly out, and got Altmann to ground out to end the game.

The shutout was the second of the season for Potomac and the first 1-0 win of the season for the P-Nats. It was just the second time in eight one-run contests that the Wood Ducks picked up the loss. The eight-inning outing by Rodriguez was the longest for any Potomac starter thus far in 2017.

After a 3-3 road trip with a series loss to Salem and series win over Down East, the P-Nats will return to Pfitzner Stadium for a brief four-game homestand vs. the Lynchburg Hillcats. In the opener on Thursday night, RHP Joan Baez (0-3, 8.27) will get the start for Potomac. Baez has lost his last three starts and has not gone more than 4.1 innings in any start this season. For the Hillcats, RHP Shao-Ching Chiang will make his second start of the year vs. Potomac. The righty has won three straight decisions and gone seven innings in each of his last three starts. First pitch from The Pfitz is set for 7:05pm.

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Photo: @HagerstownSuns

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): In a battle between the top offensive lineup and the best pitching staff in the South Atlantic League, the Hagerstown Suns (16-10) showed their prowess at the plate with five runs on seven hits in a busy bottom of the fourth inning to grab the lead for good in an 8-3 win over the Rome Braves (17-9) at Municipal Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Suns trailed 2-0 in the middle of the fourth before all nine Hagerstown batters came to the plate and combined for five runs batted in. Sheldon Neuse tallied his team-leading 18th RBI this season on a single to center, then Jake Noll pulled an RBI single to left. Nick Banks followed with an RBI groundout, Anderson Franco slapped an RBI single, and Angelo La Bruna ripped a run-scoring double to cap off the marathon inning against Rome starter Joey Wentz (Loss, 1-2).

Johnson and Noll both went 3-for-4 at the plate and Banks led the Suns with 2 RBIs.

McKenzie Mills (Win, 4-1) captured his team-best fourth victory by completing five innings as the Hagerstown starter. He allowed two early runs to the Braves, including a solo homer to right center by catcher Lucas Herbert in the top of the second, but bounced back by setting down the Braves, in order, during the third and fourth, and then struck out the side in the fifth.

Suns reliever Hayden Howard (Hold, 1) entered for Mills in the sixth and allowed one earned run in the top of the seventh, but the Suns took that run right back on an RBI single by Kieboom in the bottom half of the inning.

Kyle Simonds (Save, 1) earned his first save in a Suns uniform by recording the final six outs of the game with no runs, no hits, and one walk.

Hagerstown increased its lead atop the SAL Northern Division to one-and-a-half games over the Lakewood BlueClaws (15-12) while the Rome Braves dropped into a tie for first place with the Greenville Drive (17-9) in the SAL Southern Division.

On Thursday night at 7:05, the Suns and Braves square off in a rubber match to complete their three-game series. Hagerstown will enter play with the top combined batting average in the league (.287) against the best SAL team-wide ERA (2.71) of the Rome Braves.

Hagerstown RHP James Bourque (0-1, 2.63) chases his first win of 2017 against undefeated Rome LHP Ryan Lawlor (2-0, 2.25).

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