Nationals Minor League Notebook: May 9

Clint Robinson
Robinson smashed two home runs and drove in five runs on Tuesday. (Danny Tripodi)

By Michael Marzzacco

Compiled via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs snapped a five-game losing streak with an 8-4 victory over the Buffalo Bisons on Tuesday afternoon at NBT Bank Stadium. Clint Robinson crushed a pair of home runs and drove in five runs for the Chiefs.

Buffalo (17-12) got things going quickly off of Syracuse (10-17) starter Austin Voth. Second baseman Christian Lopes reached on a fielding error by Chiefs shortstop Adrian Sanchez to lead off the first inning. Lopes scored in the next at-bat when right fielder Dwight Smith Jr. doubled into left field. After a Jake Elmore walk and a Rowdy Tellez groundout moved Smith to third base, Buffalo third baseman Jason Leblebijian plated Smith with a fielder’s choice groudout, putting the Bisons up 2-0.

The Chiefs tied the game up in the bottom of the fourth. With one out in the inning, left fielder Brandon Snyder singled off starter Jarrett Grube into center field. In the next at-bat, the designated hitter Robinson crushed the first pitch he saw over the right-center-field fence and knotted the score up at 2-2.

The Bisons regained the lead in the next half-inning. Center fielder Roemon Fields led off the top of the fifth inning with a single and advanced to second base on a wild pitch from Voth. After a Lopes walk, Smith picked up his second RBI of the day when he singled to left field, plating Fields. Elmore then walked and Smith moved to second base. Smith then advanced to third on a wild pitch from Voth and later scored on a groundout from Tellez, putting Buffalo on top 4-2.

Syracuse then responded with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the fifth. Grant Green and Sanchez led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt from Andrew Stevenson in the next at-bat, and Green came around to score on a Corban Joseph single on the next play. With Sanchez at third, first baseman Matt Skole tied the game up with a sacrifice fly to center field, making the score 4-4.

Skole then untied the game in the bottom of the seventh. After Sanchez led off the inning with a single and the next two batters were retired, Skole doubled into the right-field corner off of reliever Jeff Beliveau, scoring Sanchez and giving the Chiefs thier first lead of the game. An intentional walk to Snyder put two on for Robinson and the Chiefs’ designate hitter made Buffalo pay again. The former major leaguer clobbered his second home run of the game over the right-field fence and extended the Syracuse lead to 8-4.

Austin Adams shut down the Bisons the rest of the way. The right-hander tossed two innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just two hits and striking out four batters, including all three in the top of the ninth inning.

The Chiefs and Bisons play the rubber match of the three-game series Thursday morning at 10:35 at NBT Bank Stadium. Taylor Hill will take the mound for Syracuse opposite right-hander Ceaser Valdez for Buffalo.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): Harold Castro scored on a wild pitch in the ninth inning, leading the Erie SeaWolves to a 5-4 win over the Harrisburg Senators on Tuesday.

Ruben Alaniz got Mario Lisson to fly out with a runner on second to end the game for his second save of the season.

Castro scored on the play in the ninth after he reached base with a single, stole second and then went to third on a groundout.

Kurt Spomer (2-1) got the win with a scoreless inning in relief while Wander Suero (0-1) took the loss in the Eastern League game.

Zach Collier doubled and singled twice, also stealing a base for the Senators.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): One game after their first walk-off win of the season, the Potomac Nationals (15-15) were victims of the walk-off for the first time in 2017, as RF Elier Hernandez capped off a 3-2 win for the Wilmington Blue Rocks (13-18) with a bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning. The opening game of a series that consists of four games over three days featured dominant starting pitching from both sides, and a stretch of 5.5 scoreless innings. RHP Jefry Rodriguez (ND) allowed two runs on four hits over six innings, while LHP Foster Griffin (ND) tossed a season high eight innings, and allowed just two runs.

Potomac jumped on Griffin in the top of the first inning. CF Victor Robles drew a leadoff four pitch walk, while 1B Ian Sagdal followed with a single to right field. With men on the corners, 3B Kelvin Gutierrez plated the first run of the night with a sacrifice fly. Two batters later, DH Austin Davidson made it 2-0 with an RBI double. Potomac had two hits in the first inning, and just one hit in the rest of the game.

The Blue Rocks responded a few innings later, as they scored a pair against Rodriguez. Rodriguez hit C Nate Esposito to begin the bottom of the third inning, while SS Nicky Lopez then drew a walk. 2B D.J. Burt dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt, which put two men in scoring position. After Hernandez grounded out, LF Anderson Miller walked, which loaded the bases for DH Chase Vallot. The Wilmington designated hitter lined a two-run, two-out, two-strike single to right field, which tied the game. It was one of just two hits with men in scoring position for Wilmington, as only Vallot and Hernandez succeeded in Wilmington’s 13 opportunities with RISP.

The teams traded zeroes from the top of the fourth frame until the bottom of the ninth. RHP Whit Mayberry allowed two hits over 1.1 innings for Potomac. Mayberry departed for RHP Ronald Pena (L, 1-1) with two men on and one out in the eighth inning, and the right-handed reliever got tremendous defensive help from Gutierrez, as the third baseman made a diving catch, which took away an RBI hit from 3B Wander Franco and ended the frame.

After the P-Nats went in order in the top of the ninth against RHP Yunior Marte (W, 1-2), the Blue Rocks capitalized on a leadoff single in the bottom of the frame by CF Cody Jones. Esposito followed with his second sacrifice bunt, which put Jones at second base. Pena then walked Lopez, and a wild pitch put runners at second and third base with one out. After Burt walked, which loaded the bases, Hernandez lined a 1-1 pitch from Pena deep to right field, which plated Jones, and gave Wilmington its first walk-off win of the season.

In the victory, Wilmington played its league leading 18th one-run contest, as they improved to 6-12 in games decided by one run. Potomac’s three hits matched a season low, while the team did not have a man reach scoring position over the final seven innings.

Off of the loss, the P-Nats will have an opportunity to get back into the series on Wednesday, as the teams will play a doubleheader at Frawley Stadium. In game one, RHP Joan Baez (0-4, 6.65) is set to toss for Potomac, while RHP Scott Blewett (1-2, 3.15) will start for Wilmington. In game two, LHP Matthew Crownover (3-0, 1.29) and LHP Colin Rodgers (0-1, 4.15) for the P-Nats and Blue Rocks respectively. First pitch is set for 5:05pm.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): OFF.

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