Nationals Minor League Notebook: May 15 and 16

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Courtesy of the Potomac Nationals

By Michael Marzzacco

Complied via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League):

5/15: The Syracuse Chiefs dropped the opening game of a four-game series to the Buffalo Bisons, 8-6, Monday night at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo. With the game tied at six in the eighth, Buffalo scored two unearned runs to pick up an 8-6 win. Clint Robinson had two hits for the Chiefs and Joe Nathan threw more than one inning for the first time since 2012.

Syracuse (12-21) started the scoring in the first inning. Rafael Bautista walked to lead off the game against Jarrett Grube. After Grube threw to first base three times, Bautista stole second on the first pitch to Andrew Stevenson. Stevenson then bunted for a single to put runners on first and third. Matt Skole followed with a walk to load the bases. Two batters later, Clint Robinson singled home two runs for a 2-0 lead. Pedro Severino then hit a ground ball to short that resulted in a run down with Robinson and Skole scoring for a 3-0 advantage.

Buffalo (19-16) struck back with six in the third. Christian Lopes doubled with one out against A.J. Cole. Darrell Ceciliani singled home Lopes to put the Bisons on the board. After back-to-back walks to load the bases, Raffy Lopez singled to center to bring in two runs and tie the game at three. Cole would retire Jake Elmore, but hit both Ian Parmley to load the bases and then Jonathan Diaz to bring in the fourth run in the inning. Trevor Gott came out of the bullpen, and Roemon Fields doubled to left to plate two more runs and give the Bisons a three-run lead.

The Chiefs tied the game again in the fifth. Grant Green singled and Adrian Sanchez doubled to put runners on second and third. Bautista continued his strong day with a single to score Green and bring the Chiefs within two. Bautista then stole second and Stevenson singled to right, driving in two runs and tying the game at six.

The game remained tied until the eighth. Nathan walked Diaz and Fields singled to right field. Brandon Snyder bobbled the ball in right, allowing the runners to move up on the error. With Lopes batting, Diaz scored on a passed ball on Severino to give the Bisons the lead. Lopes then grounded out to short, scoring Fields for the second unearned run of the inning, giving the Bisons an 8-6 lead.

5/16: The Syracuse Chiefs dropped the second game of a four-game series to the Buffalo Bisons, 6-3, Tuesday night at Coca-Cola Field. For the second night in a row, the game was tied after seven innings, but again the Bisons struck in the eighth inning, this time for three runs to pick up the win.

Syracuse (12-22) started the scoring for the second game in a row. Grant Green singled with one out against Cesar Valdez in the third with one out for the first Chiefs hit of the day. After Sanchez replaced Green at first after a fielder’s choice, Rafael Bautista and Andrew Stevenson each doubled, plating a run each and giving the Chiefs a 2-0 lead.
Buffalo (20-16) answered back in the top of the third. Jonathan Diaz singled with one out against Kyle McGowin. Roemon Fields then hit the first pitch he saw for a triple down the right-field line to score Diaz and bring the Bisons within one. Christian Lopes then doubled to plate the tying run.
The Chiefs took the lead back in the fourth. Jhonatan Solano was hit by a pitch with one out. Caleb Ramsey then singled to put runners on first and second, and Green singled to drive in Solano for a 3-2 Chiefs lead.
Raffy Lopez tied the game again for the Bisons in the sixth on his third home run of the season.
In the eighth, Dwight Smith, Jr. started the inning by bunting up the right side. Chiefs pitcher Matt Grace lunged for the ball and shoveled with his bare hand to first, but Matt Skole couldn’t pick it and Smith reached on an infield single. Grace then hit Tellez with a pitch and Lopez singled to load the bases with no-one out. Jake Elmore followed with a single to bring home Smith and give Buffalo a 4-3 lead. Ian Parmley then hit a one-hop liner that Grace stabbed out of the air, but his throw home was wide of Solano, allowing Tellez to score on the throwing error. Neal Cotts then came in the game, and after a force out at the plate, Elmore scored on a Cotts wild pitch to put the Bisons up 6-3.
The Chiefs will try and snap a four-game losing streak Wednesday night at 6:05 p.m. Joe Ross is scheduled to start for Syracuse opposite T.J. House for Buffalo.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern):

5/15: OFF.

5/16: Jay Gonzalez singled twice, also stealing a base as the Bowie Baysox defeated the Harrisburg Senators 6-4 on Tuesday.

Garabez Rosa doubled and singled twice with two RBIs for Bowie.

Lucas Long struck Neftali Soto out with runners on second and third to end the game for his first save of the season.

Bowie took the lead in the first when Austin Wynns hit an RBI double and then scored on a two-run single by Rosa.

After Bowie added two runs in the third, the Senators cut into the deficit with four runs in the fourth inning, including a two-run double by Drew Ward and an RBI double by Soto.

The Baysox tacked on another run in the seventh when Yermin Mercedes stole home.

Bowie starter John Means (2-3) picked up the win despite allowing four runs and five hits over five innings. Opposing starter Jaron Long (3-4) took the loss in the Eastern League game after a rough outing in which he allowed five runs and eight hits over three innings.

Ward doubled and singled, driving home two runs for the Senators.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League):

5/15: In the opener of a four-game series at Pfitzner Stadium, the Potomac Nationals (18-19) failed to muster much offense, as they managed just four hits in a 2-0 shutout loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks (18-20). RHP Scott Blewett (W, 2-3) tossed seven scoreless frames for Wilmington, while RHP Franco Terrero (SV, 2) capped off the game with two shutout innings out of the Blue Rocks’ bullpen.

Despite a third consecutive start from RHP Joan Baez (L, 1-5) in which he allowed no more than two earned runs, the Potomac offense failed to give the right-handed starter any offensive support. The P-Nats went 0-8 with RISP and left a runner at second base in each of the first three innings. From the fourth inning onward, Potomac had just one man reach second base.

Blewett dominated in his best start of the season. The Wilmington starter allowed just three hits and struck out six in the victory. Blewett gave up a two-out double to 3B Kelvin Gutierrez in the first inning, a leadoff double to SS Edwin Lora in the second inning, and a single to Gutierrez in the third frame. Each time, he escaped without any damage, as the game went scoreless into the top of the fifth inning.

The Blue Rocks finally cracked Baez in the fifth frame. CF Cody Jones led off the inning with a triple into the left-centerfield gap, while C Nate Esposito made it 1-0 with an RBI groundout. Wilmington scored the final run of the game in the next inning, once again courtesy of a leadoff hit. LF Roman Collins began the frame with a single, and then moved to second base on a groundout. 3B Wander Franco followed with an infield single to Lora, and the Potomac shortstop compounded the hit with a throwing error, which plated Collins. A fly out from the next man to the plate turned the run to earned, as Baez gave up two earned runs in 5.2 innings. The righty is 1-2 in his last three starts despite a 2.25 ERA (4/16.0).

Potomac mustered just one hit over the final six innings, as the two-run hole proved to be too much to climb out of. C Taylor Gushue led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, but Terrero got 1B Ian Sagdal to ground into a double play, before a fly out from Lora ended the game.

The bullpen put together another strong showing in the loss for Potomac, as RHP Kyle Schepel and RHP Jorge Pantoja allowed just one hit over 3.1 shutout frames.

With the loss, the P-Nats have dropped three consecutive games, one shy of their longest losing streak of the season.

5/16: A close game through the first 6.5 innings, the Potomac Nationals (19-19) scored eight runs over the final three frames in route to a 10-0 victory over the Wilmington Blue Rocks (18-21). Potomac hit three home runs, which included a solo home run in the second inning, a solo blast in the third frame, and a three-run home run in the eighth. All 10 Potomac runs came with two outs. RHP Luis Reyes (W, 3-5) allowed just one hit over 6.1 shutout frames in his best start of the season for Potomac.

The P-Nats opened the scoring with a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the second inning. 2B Bryan Mejia hit his first home run in more than a month, which made it 1-0. LHP Colin Rodgers (L, 0-2) then allowed a solo home run to DH Austin Davidson, the Potomac designated hitter’s third of the season. All three of Davidson’s home runs this season have come against the Blue Rocks.

Reyes dominated throughout his start. The right-handed starter gave up a single to 2B D.J. Burt in the first inning and walked 1B Chris DeVito in the fourth frame, as he faced just two over the minimum over 6.1 innings. With only 70 pitches, Reyes departed for LHP Grant Borne (SV, 2) in the seventh. Though Borne gave up three hits and walked one, he finished off Potomac’s fourth shutout win of the season.

Ahead 2-0, the P-Nats broke the game open with five runs in the seventh inning against the combination of RHP Jacob Bodner and RHP Andres Machado. Despite having a man thrown out at the plate in the frame, Potomac loaded the bases with two outs, as Bodner walked C Taylor Gushue, which ended his outing. Machado entered, and gave up three RBI hits in a span of four pitches. 1B Ian Sagdal doubled Potomac’s lead to 4-0 with a two-run single, SS Edwin Lora made it 5-0 with an RBI single, while 3B Bryan Mejia plated two more with his first triple of the season. Potomac led 7-0 after seven frames.

In the eighth frame, LF Telmito Agustin reached on a fielding error by DeVito. After CF Victor Robles walked, Machado retired the next two hitters. With two men on and two outs, Gushue hit his 12th home run of the season. The line drive blast just inside the right field foul pole gave Gushue the most home runs in all of Minor League Baseball. His three RBI’s on the night moved him to 36 on the season, fifth throughout all of the Minors.

Back at .500, the P-Nats will turn to LHP Matthew Crownover (3-0, 1.33) with a chance to level the season series with Wilmington. Crownover allowed just one run in his last outing, a start against the Blue Rocks on 5/10. For the Blue Rocks. RHP A.J. Puckett (3-3, 4.25) will make his third start of the season vs. the P-Nats. Last time out, Puckett allowed six earned runs over a season low 2.1 innings against Potomac.

First pitch is set for 7:05pm on Wednesday night.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic):

5/15: Asheville designated hitter Vince Fernandez reached base all five times he went to bat against the Hagerstown Suns (22-15) on Monday night, finishing 4-for-4 with five runs scored in a 13-2 win by the Tourists (17-19) at historic McCormick Field.

Hagerstown starter James Bourque (Loss, 0-2) allowed five runs on five hits in the bottom of the first as the Tourists tallied two doubles and a two-run homer by second baseman Max George. Bourque steadied to finish five innings with seven runs allowed on seven hits while striking out six.

The Suns scored both of their runs in the top of the second. Second baseman Jake Noll led off with a single and scored from first on an RBI double by right fielder Nick Banks. Two batters later, first baseman Anderson Franco scored Banks with an RBI groundout to second.

Noll, Sheldon Neuse, and Aldrem Corredor all finished with two hits each, but the Suns went 0-for-11 at the plate with runners in scoring position.

Brandon Gold (Win, 2-2) earned the victory after five complete innings before the Tourists used five different relievers to hold the league-leading Hagerstown offense to just two runs in a second-straight game. The Suns won 2-1 on Sunday, courtesy of solo homers by Daniel Johnson and Tyler Beckwith.

Johnson finished 0-for-3 on Monday night after recording three homers combined in his previous three games to take the home run lead among active South Atlantic League hitters with nine round-trippers this season.

The Suns remained in first place atop the SAL Northern Division by a half-game after the Lakewood BlueClaws (22-16) split a home doubleheader with the Columbia Fireflies.

5/16: Anderson Franco and Jake Noll both homered as Carlos Pena threw his best six innings of the season to give the Hagerstown Suns (23-15) a 6-3 victory over the Asheville Tourists (17-20) on Tuesday afternoon at McCormick Field.

Pena (Win, 2-2) went to the mound early on an Education Day and allowed just three hits with one run in his longest professional outing. The 23-year-old Lindsey Wilson College (KY) alum struck out three Tourists with 80 total pitches.

Suns catcher Matt Reistetter made two great defensive plays for Pena. In the bottom of the fourth, with runners at second and third, Reistetter corralled a wild throw from Pena and then outsmarted Asheville runner Vince Fernandez with Angelo La Bruna to record the third out on a tag at the plate. Reistetter again recorded the third out in the fifth when he caught Max George trying to steal third.

Hagerstown took a 2-0 lead in the first and never trailed. Nick Banks drove in Aldrem Corredor and Jake Noll on a double to the wall to open the scoring. Noll added an RBI groundout in the sixth, and later, after Banks forced Asheville starter Erick Julio (Loss, 3-4) further into his pitch count with a two-out single, Franco took him deep for his second homer this season.

Banks finished a team-best 2-for-4 at the plate with 2 RBI and a run scored. Daniel Johnson also recorded two base hits and scored in the sixth.

Noll added his sixth homer run of the year for insurance in the eighth as the Suns drove in their 190th RBI to lead all 14 South Atlantic League teams in 2017.

Asheville third baseman Colton Welker hit a solo homer against Hagerstown reliever Hayden Howard in the eighth. All four of his round-trippers this year have come against the Suns.

The Tourists plated one more run in the ninth against Kyle Simonds, but the righty recorded the final three outs in a speedy 2-hour, 21-minute victory. Hagerstown took three of four games in Asheville and finished the weeklong road trip 4-3. The Suns remain in first place atop the SAL Northern Division.

Next up, the Suns will enjoy a league-wide off day on Wednesday before opening a four-game series against the second-place Lakewood BlueClaws (22-16).

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