Nationals Minor League Notebook: May 5-8

Andrew Stevenson singled, stole a base and scored the game’s first run on Monday. (Danny Tripodi | Syracuse Chiefs)

By Michael Marzzacco

Highlights and updates on the Nats minor league affiliates.

Compiled via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League):

5/5: L 10-2

5/6: The Syracuse Chiefs dropped the second game of a three-game series to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, 9-3, Saturday evening at PNC Field. Brian Goodwin and Brandon Snyder each homered for the Chiefs, but Syracuse fell for ninth time in its last 10 games.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (15-12) started the scoring with three runs against Joe Ross in the bottom of the first. Dustin Fowler tripled with one out to right field, followed by a Clint Frazier sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. Ji-Man Choi then doubled and Ruben Tejada hit his first of two home runs for a 3-0 advantage.
Syracuse (9-16) got on the board in the third. Brian Goodwin hit his second home run of the season, to left-center field off Bryan Mitchell, to trim the score to 3-1.
The RailRiders added another run in the bottom of the third. Frazier singled to right-center field, and moved to second on an error on Caleb Ramsey. Choi then doubled for the second time, scoring Frazier for a 4-1 lead.
Frazier again started a RailRiders rally in the fifth. He doubled against Ross with one out and moved to third on a wild pitch. After an intentional walk to Choi, Frazier darted home with Tejada up on another wild pitch, and slide in just ahead of the tag of Pedro Severino to extend the lead to 5-1. Tejada followed with his second homer of the night, clearing the bullpen fence in left for a 7-1 Scranton lead.
Ross went five innings for the Chiefs, allowing eight hits and seven runs. Ross walked two and stuck out four, throwing 88 pitches in his first game back in the Syracuse rotation.
Snyder added two Chiefs runs in the sixth on his team-leading fifth home run of the season, this one off Luis Cessa over the right field fence. The two-run shot made the score 7-3.
But the RailRiders again answered right back in the bottom of the inning. Tyler Wade tripled with one out against Mike Broadway, and scored on Fowler’s single.
In the seventh, Scranton loaded the bases against Austin Adams on two walks and a single. With two outs, Wade hit a dribbler in front of the mound. Adams fielded and flipped home, but Mason Williams beat Severino to the plate for a 9-3 RailRiders lead.
The Chiefs and RailRiders will play the final game of the weekend series Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Greg Ross is scheduled to start for Syracuse opposite Chad Green for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

5/7: Sunday’s scheduled 1:05 p.m. game between the Chiefs and RailRiders at PNC Field has been postponed due to rain in Northeast Pennsylvania throughout the morning and expected to continue through the afternoon. The makeup date for today’s game has not been announced.

The Chiefs return home Monday to open a seven-game homestand against the Bisons and RailRiders. Monday’s game against Buffalo is a 6:35 p.m. first pitch at NBT Bank Stadium.
5/8: The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Buffalo Bisons 9-3 on Monday night at NBT Bank Stadium. Brandon Snyder homered and drove in all three runs in the loss.

Syracuse (9-17) knocked in the first run of the game in the first inning. Andrew Stevenson singled to lead off the inning and Matt Skole walked two batters later. As part of a three-hit day, Snyder singled off Murphy Smith on a ground ball to center, plating Stevenson.

Buffalo (17-11) struck back right away in the top of the second. In his fourth at-bat of the season with the Bisons, Raffy Lopez smacked a two-run shot off Greg Ross over the right-field fence.

But Lopez wasn’t done yet. Two innings later, in the top of the fourth, Lopez stepped to the plate with runners on first and second. On the third pitch, the catcher homered to right. Lopez finished the game with two home runs and five RBIs.

In the top of the fifth, Jake Elmore singled and Dwight Smith Jr. doubled. Rowdy Tellez grounded out to shortstop Irving Falu, who threw it to first, allowing Elmore to score on the play. Jason Leblebijian then singled on a ground ball which plated Smith, giving Buffalo a 7-1 lead.

Snyder continued his strong game in the bottom of the eighth. With Skole on first, Snyder homered to right to bring Syracuse within 7-3. He leads the team with six homers and 21 RBIs.

The Bisons responded with two runs in the top of the ninth against Rafael Martin. Elmore scored the first when he stole third and Pedro Severino‘s throw sailed into left field for an error. Leblebijian singled on a ground ball to center which plated Tellez, extending Buffalo’s lead to 9-3.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League):

5/5Jimmy Cordero got Ryan McMahon to hit into a double play in the eighth inning, leading the Harrisburg Senators to a 2-1 win over the Hartford Yard Goats on Friday.

The double play came with the bases loaded and prevented the Yard Goats from scoring in the inning.

Hartford tied the game 1-1 in the seventh after Drew Weeks hit a solo home run.

Harrisburg answered in the bottom of the inning when Osvaldo Abreu hit an RBI single, driving in Neftali Soto.

Harrisburg right-hander Jaron Long (3-3) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing one run on just two hits over seven innings. Opposing starter Sam Howard (0-2) took the tough loss in the Eastern League game after giving up two runs and five hits over seven innings. Wander Suero retired the side in order for his third save of the season.

Weeks homered and singled for the Yard Goats.

Harrisburg improved to 6-2 against Hartford this season.

5/6: Elvin Soto hit a two-run double in the eighth inning, leading the Hartford Yard Goats to a 6-5 win over the Harrisburg Senators on Saturday.

James Farris struck Raudy Read out with a runner on second to end the game for his third save of the season.

The double by Soto capped a three-run inning and gave the Yard Goats a 6-5 lead after Dillon Thomas hit an RBI double earlier in the inning.

Matt Pierpont (1-0) got the win with a scoreless inning in relief while Phillips Valdez (0-1) took the loss in the Eastern League game.

Drew Ward doubled twice and singled for the Senators. Alec Keller singled twice, scoring two runs.

Despite the loss, Harrisburg is 6-3 against Hartford this season.

5/7: Dom Nunez hit a grand slam in the first inning, and Jack Wynkoop pitched seven scoreless innings as the Hartford Yard Goats beat the Harrisburg Senators 6-1 on Sunday.

The grand slam by Nunez capped a five-run inning and gave the Yard Goats a 5-0 lead after Josh Fuentes hit an RBI single earlier in the inning.

Wynkoop (3-2) picked up the win after he struck out four while allowing three hits.

Austen Williams (1-3) allowed five runs and got two outs in the Eastern League game.

5/8Alec Keller hit a three-run double in the fifth inning, leading the Harrisburg Senators to a 13-10 win over the Erie SeaWolves on Monday.

The double by Keller, part of a four-run inning, gave the Senators an 11-9 lead before Mario Lisson hit an RBI single later in the inning.

The Senators tacked on another run in the seventh when Lisson hit an RBI single, driving in Khayyan Norfork.

Ryan Brinley (2-1) got the win in relief while Santiago Garrido (0-1) took the loss in the Eastern League game. Wander Suero retired the side in order for his fourth save of the season.

In the losing effort, the SeaWolves recorded a season-high eight extra base hits. Jeff McVaney homered and doubled, driving in three runs for the SeaWolves. Dominic Ficociello doubled three times and singled, scoring two runs.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League):

5/5: Two first inning errors led to two runs for the Lynchburg Hillcats (13-12), as the Potomac Nationals (14-12) fell 6-2 at Pfitzner Stadium on Friday night. Potomac’s errors in the first frame led to two unearned runs against RHP Joan Baez (L, 0-4), though the right-handed starter had his best outing of the season. Baez allowed three runs, one earned, over 5.1 innings, the first time he pitched at least five innings in 2017.

Baez retired the first two men in the top of the first inning, but LF Ka’ai Tom reached on a throwing error by 2B Austin Davidson. CF Connor Marabell followed with a single to left field, and Potomac LF Telmito Agustin misplayed it, which allowed Tom to score. 1B Sicnarf Loopstok followed with an RBI double, as Lynchburg tallied two unearned runs and led 2-0 after half an inning.

The Hillcats added another run in the second inning, which proved to be the difference in the game. After C Daniel Salters singled, SS Willi Castro grounded into a fielder’s choice. 2B Ivan Castillo then singled, and DH Andrew Calica made it 3-0 with an RBI single, which plated Castro. Calica’s single held up as the game-winning hit.

Potomac did not manage much offense over the first four innings against RHP Shao-Ching Chiang (W, 4-1), as the right-handed starter tallied a win in his fourth straight start. Chiang faced just two over the minimum through the first four innings before he gave up a single run in both the fifth and sixth frames. Chiang allowed just two runs over a career high eight innings.

RF Rhett Wiseman made a sensational grab and ended the top of the fifth inning, and then led off the home half of the frame with a solo home run, his third home run of the season. In the sixth inning, 1B Ian Sagdal hit a one-out double, and C Taylor Gushue pulled Potomac within one run with a two-out RBI single, though Potomac left him at first base. The P-Nats managed just one baserunner after Gushue’s single, as 3B Kelvin Gutierrez led off the ninth inning with an infield single against RHP Leandro Linares.

Lynchburg added an insurance run in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly against LHP Matthew Crownover, and put the game out of reach with two runs in the ninth inning against RHP Whit Mayberry. Loopstok led off the ninth with a double, 3B Yonathan Mendoza singled, and Salters made it 5-2 with an RBI single. After Mayberry tallied the first of three strikeouts in the inning, Castillo wrapped up the scoring with an RBI double.

Despite the loss, Potomac remains in second place in the Northern Division, though paired with scores from around the Carolina League, now sits 2.5 games behind the Salem Red Sox, and only 0.5 games ahead of the Hillcats and Frederick Keys. The P-Nats and Hillcats will continue their series on Saturday, as the teams will play a pair of games at Pfitzner Stadium. Game one of the twin bill is set to start at 5:30pm.

5/6: A pair of matchups at Pfitzner Stadium on Saturday night went the way of the road team, as the Potomac Nationals (14-14) fell 3-0 and 11-3 to the Lynchburg Hillcats in the doubleheader. RHP Matt Esparza (W, 2-2) cruised over five-shutout innings in the game one start for Lynchburg, while the Hillcats’ offense exploded for six runs over the first two innings in the game two rout.

Behind Esparza’s shutout performance in game one, the Hillcats scored a single run in three different frames, all three times against RHP Wirkin Estevez (L, 1-2), who tossed Potomac’s first complete game of the season. Estevez went all seven innings, struck out five, and walked three in the loss. Lynchburg scored a single run in the third, the fourth, and the seventh inning against the righty.

After both sides went scoreless through the first two innings, Lynchburg plated what ended up as the winning run in the top of the third. After SS Ivan Castillo reached on a fielder’s choice, the shortstop stole second base. After Estevez induced a groundout for the second out of the inning, CF Ka’ai Tom came up with a two-out RBI double. In the fourth frame, Estevez walked the leadoff man in RF Connor Marabell, and he scored on an RBI groundout from C Daniel Salters. In the seventh, 2B Yonathan Mendoza walked with two outs, and Tom came up with his second two-out RBI extra-base hit of the game, as his triple made it 3-0, the final.

Potomac managed just three hits in the game one loss. LF Jack Sundberg singled in the first inning, and Potomac did not manage another hit until the final frame. RHP Argenis Angulo (SV, 2) gave up consecutive one-out singles to C Jake Lowery and 2B Bryan Mejia, but the right-handed reliever then struck out consecutive hitters and wrapped up Lynchburg’s 3-0 win.

In game two, the offense was abundant both early and often for the Hillcats. Lynchburg tagged Potomac  (L, 1-5) for eight earned runs over 3.1 innings. The Hillcats scored four runs in the first inning, two in the second, and another two in the fourth against the Potomac starting pitcher.

In the top of the first inning, five of the first six Hillcats hitters reached against Reyes. Marabell, C Martin Cervenka, and Mendoza each had an RBI single in the frame, as Mendoza’s two-run single made it 4-0.

The P-Nats got back into it in the bottom of the first with two runs against RHP Kieran Lovegrove (ND). CF Victor Robles led off the frame with a single and then scored on an RBI triple hit by 1B Ian Sagdal. With one out, C Taylor Gushue appeared to hit into a 9-2 double play, but Cervenka couldn’t handle the ball at the plate, as Sagdal scored, and Potomac tallied two earned runs against Lovegrove in the frame.

Lynchburg built the lead back to four runs with a pair of runs in the second inning. CF Andrew Calica drew a one-out walk, and DH Sicnarf Loopstok launched a two-out, two-run home run off of the Potomac videoboard. After Reyes got the first out of the fifth inning, Calica and Tom hit back-to-back singles, which knocked the Potomac starter out of the game. RHP Sam Held came in and immediately gave up a two-run single to Loopstok, which concluded the line for Reyes at eight earned runs, as the Hillcats led 8-2 after 3.5 innings.

Lynchburg tallied another run against Held in the fifth inning, and a pair of runs against RHP Mariano Rivera in the sixth inning. The P-Nats got back on the board in the sixth inning, as Gushue tallied his league best eighth home run of the season. Gushue’s solo blast against RHP Dominic DeMasi made it 11-3, the eventual final.

RHP Jordan Milbrath (W, 1-0) tallied the victory in his first appearance of the season. Milbrath allowed just one hit over two-shutout innings. RHP Justin Garcia and RHP Ronald Pena each pitched a scoreless seventh frame for the Hillcats and P-Nats respectively.

With the doubleheader sweep, the Hillcats jumped over Potomac in the standings. The Frederick Keys also picked up a victory on Saturday night, as they leapt over the P-Nats in the Northern Division race as well. Potomac will head into Sunday in fourth place in the division for the first time this season.

The P-Nats will try to avoid their first series sweep of the season, as they match up with the Hillcats at 1:00pm on Sunday afternoon. RHP Hector Silvestre (3-0, 3.41) is set to start for Potomac. Silvestre is 3-0 with a 2.88 ERA over his last four starts. For Lynchburg, RHP Shane Bieber (Debut) is set to make his Carolina League debut. The Cleveland Indians promoted Bieber from Low-A Lake County on 5/5. Bieber went 2-3 with a 3.10 ERA in five starts for Lake County.

5/7: The Potomac Nationals (15-14) walked off the Lynchburg Hillcats (15-13) on Sunday afternoon at Pfitzner Stadium with a 4-3 win in 11 innings. DH Telmito Agustin drove in the game-winning run with a single to left field with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th. Potomac overcame a three-run deficit and salvaged the final game of the four-game series.

Lynchburg scored all of its runs in the top of the third inning against LHP Hector Silvestre (ND). C Daniel Salters drew a leadoff walk against Silvestre to open up the frame. After 2B Ivan Castillo flew out to left field, SS Willi Castro was hit by a Silvestre pitch, which put runners on first and second with one out. LF Andrew Calica drove in the first run of the game with an RBI double in the gap in right field. The next batter, 3B Yonathan Mendoza, singled to center to drive in Castro from third. With runners on the corners, 1B Sicnarf Loopstock drove in his fifth run in two games with a sacrifice fly to left field, which gave the Hillcats a 3-0 lead in the third inning.

The two hits that Silvestre allowed in the third were the only ones he allowed all game. Only one other base runner reached against the left-handed starter throughout the rest of his outing. He finished six strong innings and gave up just the three runs on two hits, walked two, struck out four, and a hit batter. Silvestre has now thrown five consecutive quality starts for Potomac in six starts this season.

Potomac began its comeback in the bottom of the fourth inning off of Lynchburg starter RHP Shane Bieber (ND). CF Victor Robles led off the frame with a solo home run to left field. The long ball was Robles’ third home run of the season and his second in seven games since returning from the disabled list.

Bieber impressed in his first career Carolina League start. The right-hander fired six innings, struck out seven and held The Red, White & Blue to just one run on four hits in the outing. However, his efforts were squandered by the bullpen.

The P-Nats tied the score in the bottom of the eighth inning. LF Jack Sundberg and DH Matt Page each singled to begin the frame against RHP Paul Hendrix. Manager Tripp Keister turned to the bench for speed and pinch-ran Agustin for Page at first. 2B Bryan Mejia then laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the tying runs in scoring position. With Robles stepping in, RHP Leandro Linares entered the game to replace Hendrix. Linares struggled with his control and walked Robles to load the bases. The righty forced in a run with a walk to the following batter 2B Austin Davidson and made the score 3-2.  The next batter, 1B Ian Sagdal, tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right field.

The game remained even until the 11th inning. Potomac loaded the bases after a single from C Taylor Gushue, who extended his hit streak to a season-high nine games, an intentional walk to SS Edwin Lora and a walk to Sundberg. That set the stage for Agustin’s walk-off single, which he drove to left field to defeat the Hillcats 4-3.

RHP Gilberto Mendez (W, 1-0) earned the win with three-shutout innings against Lynchburg. Mendez entered in the ninth and allowed only one hit and two walks in his fourth appearance for Potomac in 2017. The bullpen kept the P-Nats in the game with five-shutout innings in the extra-inning win.

The P-Nats get the day off on Monday before hitting the road to play four games in three days against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. The opener in the series features RHP Jefry Rodriguez (3-1, 3.19) for Potomac against LHP Foster Griffin (2-2, 3.77) for Wilmington. Rodriguez took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Down East in his last start and struck out a season-high eight Wood Ducks in the game. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 pm at Frawley Stadium

5/8: OFF.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League):

5/5: Postponed

5/6Designated hitter Aldrem Corredor delivered his second-straight walkoff base hit in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run double as the Hagerstown Suns (18-10) continued their home heroics in a 10-9 comeback win over the Hickory Crawdads (10-18) on a chilly Saturday night at Municipal Stadium.

The win marked the sixth time in 17 home games the Suns scored the go-ahead run in their final at-bat.

Two nights earlier, Corredor beat the Rome Braves with a walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. The 21-year-old infielder from Miranda, Venezuela finished Saturday’s win with a team-best four runs batted in on two doubles.

The Suns trailed 8-1 in the middle of the fourth before scoring seven unanswered runs between the fourth and sixth innings during their largest comeback of the season. Jake Noll tied the game in the bottom of the sixth with a two-out, two-run single.

Hickory took the lead again in the top of the ninth on a run-scoring single by designated hitter Franklin Rollin, who led Hickory with three RBIs and two runs scored.

Noll led off the bottom of the ninth with a double down the right field line and Nick Banks drew a walk to add pressure on Hickory closer Jake Lemoine (Loss, 0-1). Newly-added Suns catcher Jakson Reetz executed a swinging bunt to move Noll and Banks into scoring position, Anderson Franco picked up an intentional walk to load the bases, and Corredor rolled his game-winning double to the wall in left-center field.

David Ramos (Win, 1-0) allowed one earned run on three hits combined in the eighth and ninth innings. Yonathan Ramirez settled down the Crawdads with 3 1/3 innings of middle relief after replacing starter Carlos Pena , who gave up six earned runs with five walks in 3 2/3 innings.

Hagerstown’s sixth comeback victory maintained a one-game lead over the Lakewood BlueClaws (18-12) for first place in the South Atlantic League Northern Division.

On Sunday, the Suns host a doubleheader with the Crawdads beginning at 2:05 p.m. Hagerstown lefty Tyler Watson (0-1, 3.04) goes to the mound in Game 1 and righty Sterling Sharp (0-1, 3.38) starts Game 2 for the Suns in a make-up of Friday’s game postponed by rain. Both games are scheduled for seven innings each.

5/7: The Hagerstown Suns (19-11) held off a last-inning comeback from the Hickory Crawdads in a 10-9 victory before falling in the nightcap, 10-4, during a seven-inning doubleheader on Sunday at Municipal Stadium.

Carter Kieboom finished the day 4-for-7 at the plate, leading the Suns with four runs batted in and a two-run homer in Game 2.

Hagerstown jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the opener, but the Crawdads chipped away and scored three runs in the top of the ninth to make it 10-9 against Suns reliever Steven Fuentes . Hickory moved the tying runner to second base, but the 20-year-old from Panama induced a groundball to third and Sheldon Neuse fired a strike to Aldrem Corredor at first base for the final out.

Neuse homered and singled with two RBI and Nick Banks led Hagerstown with three RBI in Game 1.

Tyler Watson (Win, 1-1) earned his first victory of the year despite allowing six runs on eight hits over six innings. Opposing starter Argenis Rodriguez (Loss, 0-3) gave up nine runs and 11 hits to the Suns in just 3 2/3 innings.

In Game 2, the Suns gave up seven runs in the top of the third as Hickory sent 13 batters to the plate. Hagerstown starter Sterling Sharp (Loss, 0-2) left in the third after giving up eight runs on nine hits. Matthew DeRosier entered from the pen and issued three straight walks including two with the bases loaded.

Hickory second baseman Yeyson Yrizarri finished 4-for-4 at the plate and reliever DeMarcus Evans (Win, 1-3) gave up one run on two hits while recording the final nine outs in Game 2. The Crawdads have scored 28 combined runs in 23 innings against Hagerstown.

The Suns will swing for the four-game series win on Monday during Education Day at Municipal Stadium. Left-handed starter McKenzie Mills (4-1, 2.10) goes to the mound for Hagerstown at 10:35 a.m. against Hickory righty Jonathan Hernandez (1-3, 3.97).

5/8Jonathan Hernandez matched his career-high with 10 strikeouts for the Hickory Crawdads (12-19) while the Hagerstown Suns (19-12) tallied just six hits in a 6-1 loss on Monday morning.

Hagerstown starter McKenzie Mills (Loss, 4-2) allowed four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Hayden Howard took over in the sixth but allowed a three-run homer to Hickory catcher Alex Kowalczyk that put the Crawdads ahead by six runs. 

Suns left fielder Nick Banks scored the lone run for Hagerstown with a solo homer in the bottom of the sixth. He finished 2-for-4 at the plate in front of a season-high 2,342 fans on Education Day at Municipal Stadium.

Hernandez (Win, 2-3) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings for the Crawdads with 10 strikeouts, tying his previous best on May 18, 2016 at Lexington. 

After splitting the four-game series with Hickory, the Suns hit the road for a seven-game journey across the South Atlantic League Southern Division. They’ll begin on Wednesday with the first of three games in Rome, Georgia at 7:05 p.m. The Suns took two of three games from the Braves last week in Hagerstown.

Baseball continues at Municipal Stadium this Friday with the NJCAA Region XX Division 1 Tournament. Hagerstown Community College hosts the action all weekend long. Tickets are available at the Municipal Stadium gates.


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