Nationals Minor League Notebook: June 1, Tim Tebow Edition

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Photo: @HagerstownSuns

By Michael Marzzacco

It was Tebow Mania in Hagerstown yesterday as the former Heisman Trophy winner who is now in the Mets Minor League system took the field for the Columbia Fireflies against the Hagerstown Suns. Check out highlights from that game as well as the other three Nats Minor League clubs.

Compiled via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League):

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Brandon Snyder’s three-run double opened the floodgates in the Chiefs’ big fourth inning. (Danny Tripodi | Syracuse Chiefs)

The Syracuse Chiefs used a five-run fourth inning to sprint past the Charlotte Knights, 8-4, on Thursday evening. The Chiefs’ top three hitters – Adrian Sanchez, Brandon Snyder, and Ryan Raburn – reached base five times while combining for five runs scored and six runs batted in. The Chiefs also took advantage of six Charlotte errors in the win.

Syracuse (17-32) got the scoring going right away in the bottom of the first inning. Sanchez led off the frame with a double off Knights starter Tyler Danish. After a fly ball from Snyder moved Sanchez to third, a sacrifice fly from Raburn plated the Venezuelan infielder and put the Chiefs up 1-0.

The Chiefs doubled their lead in the second. With one out, Joey Butler reached on a throwing error from shortstop Everth Cabrera. On the next play, Cabrera committed his second consecutive error when an Andrew Stevenson ground ball bounced off his chest, allowing Butler to move to second. Following an Irving Falu line out, Danish walked Caleb Ramsey to load the bases. The next batter, Sanchez, slapped a ground ball off the glove of first baseman Cody Asche for the third Knights error of the inning and the second Chiefs run of the game.

Charlotte (26-26) knotted the score on a long swing in the fourth inning. After a Yoan Moncada groundout to lead off the frame, Danny Hayes singled into center field off Syracuse starter A.J. Cole. In the next at-bat, Asche hit a deep fly ball that just cleared the right-center field fence for his second home run in as many days and tied the game at 2-2.

The Chiefs broke the game open in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Danish issued back-to-back walks to Falu and Ramsey to put runners on first and second. On the next play, Sanchez hit a ground ball to third baseman Tyler Ladendorf, whose throw pulled Asche off the bag at first, allowing Sanchez to reach and load the bases. Snyder promptly unloaded the bases in the next at-bat as he smashed a three-run double to deep center field. Raburn followed up with an RBI double of his own, advancing to third on a fielding error from center fielder Jacob May. Two batters later, Ladendorf threw away a ground ball of the bat of Pedro Severino, enabling Raburn to score on the inning’s third and game’s sixth error.

The Knights grabbed back a run in the fifth. With runners on second and third after a walk and Nicky Delmonico double, Yoan Moncada hit a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Chiefs extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sanchez led off the frame with a single into left field and moved to third on a base hit by Snyder. Raburn followed with his second sacrifice fly of the game, upping the lead to 8-3.

Charlotte didn’t go away quietly. In the top of the seventh inning, three consecutive singles off reliever Austin Adams brought in a run, with a base hit from May scoring Ladendorf. Adams recovered with a pair before outs before Neal Cotts entered to strike out Hayes.

Charlotte threatened to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning as it brought the tying run to the plate with the bases loaded, but reliever Trevor Gott induced a groundout from Carson Blair to end the game and secure the Chiefs’ second consecutive victory.

The Chiefs are back in action Friday night at 7:05 p.m. at NBT Bank Stadium. Syracuse welcomes the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, to Central New York for the first time this season. Kyle McGowin is set to take the mound for the Chiefs opposite right-hander Adam Plutko for the Clippers.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): Isaac Ballou hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to give the Harrisburg Senators a 1-0 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Thursday.

Harrisburg starter Jaron Long (5-4) picked up the win after allowing five hits over seven scoreless innings. Opposing starter Shane Dawson (1-6) took the tough loss in the Eastern League game after giving up one run and two hits over five innings. Wander Suero retired the side in order for his 10th save of the season.

For the Fisher Cats, Richard Urena tripled and doubled. New Hampshire was held scoreless for the sixth time this season, while the Harrisburg staff recorded its third shutout of the year.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): The Potomac Nationals (24-29) fell to a season-high five games below .500 against the Lynchburg Hillcats (30-21) with a 3-1 loss on Thursday night at Pfitzner Stadium. RHP Joan Baez (L, 1-6) lasted just three innings in his shortest non-rain shortened start of the season. The Hillcats got a great outing from RHP Aaron Civale (W, 1-0) who held the P-Nats to one run in his Carolina League debut.

Lynchburg got on the board first with two runs in the top of the first inning on just one hit against Baez. The hit came off the bat of 2B Sam Haggerty who led off the game with a single to left field. After a strikeout retired the first out, a hit batter, walk, and an error brought home the first Hillcats run of the evening. Then, CF Andrew Calica hit a sacrifice fly to center field to give Lynchburg a 2-0 lead. The inning came to an end on the sacrifice fly after CF Victor Robles registered his team-high seventh outfield assist. He threw out LF Connor Marabell trying to advance from second to third.

The Hillcats added another in the top of the third against Baez on an RBI fielder’s choice by Calica. Baez was pulled after the third inning and was replaced by LHP Taylor Guilbeau in the fourth. The three-inning performance marked Baez’s shortest outing of the season that was not shortened by rain. The right-hander allowed three runs on three hits, two hit batters and two walks. He struck out four during his tenth start of the season.

Potomac scored its only run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning against Civale. LF Jack Sundberg doubled to begin the inning and Robles followed with a single to left to put runners on the corners with one out. With DH Austin Davidson batting, Robles swiped his team-leading 10th base of the season. Davidson followed with a sacrifice fly to right-field to cut the deficit to two.

Two runs marked the closest the P-Nats would get in Thursday night’s game against the Hillcats. The Red, White & Blue had just eight total bases runners and put only three runners in scoring position all game. Civale took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and a shutout into the sixth. He finished his first Carolina League start after six innings. The right-hander allowed just a run on three hits and two walks while striking out five.

The P-Nats bullpen did keep them in the game. Guilbeau and RHP Mariano Rivera III tossed six shutout innings in relief of Baez. The two relievers allowed just four hits and one walk combined. Guilbeau recorded five strikeouts in three innings in his fourth appearance since returning to the Potomac Nationals on May 15th.

Lynchburg still came away with the victory on Thursday despite going 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position against Potomac. The Hillcats put a runner in scoring position in six innings tonight but only scored in two of those innings. Five of those runner were left on base with two outs.

With the hit in the sixth, Sundberg increased his hitting streak to seven games, his second longest streak of the season. He set the bar high with a nine-game hitting streak over his first nine games in the Carolina League. Robles set a season-high on-base streak, reaching for the 14th consecutive game in a row.

The P-Nats and Hillcats continue their four-game series tomorrow night at 7:05 pm at Pfitzner Stadium. Potomac looks for their first win of the series with RHP Luis Reyes (3-5, 5.10) on the mound. The Indians’ top pitching prospect RHP Triston McKenzie (3-2, 2.84) makes his Pfitzner Stadium debut for Lynchburg. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm at The Pfitz on Back to the Future Night!

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League):

South Atlantic League home run leader Daniel Johnson put the Suns (32-21) ahead for good with a two-run homer in the bottom of the third and a huge crowd at Municipal Stadium urged Hagerstown to a 3-2 win over the Columbia Fireflies (27-24).

A crowd of 6,217 packed into the 87-year-old ballpark for Tim Tebow‘s first visit to Hagerstown. The 29-year-old Fireflies left fielder, playing his first full season of professional baseball, finished 2-for-3 at the plate with two singles.

Columbia took a 2-0 in the third after Tebow scored on a two-run homer by Desmond Lindsay, but the Suns rallied for three runs in the bottom of the frame. Blake Perkins pulled a double to right field, scoring Telmito Agustin from second base, and Johnson followed two batters later with his eleventh home run of the year.

Johnson tallied the only multi-hit game for the Suns, finishing 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. Columbia starter Gary Cornish (Loss, 0-1) struck out six Suns, but the three-run third cost him a win in his season debut.

Johnson made a dazzling defensive play in the fourth. Fireflies cleanup hitter Dash Winningham tried to stretch his single into a double, but the gifted right fielder grabbed the ball off the wall with his bare hand and threw a strike to second base, where shortstop Paul Panaccione applied the tag.

A pair of Hagerstown pitchers named Mills combined for nine innings. Starter McKenzie Mills (Win, 5-2) picked up his team-leading fifth victory of the season after striking out five ‘Flies in six innings and Jordan Mills (Save, 4) allowed just one hit in three scoreless innings. The relief ace worked around a hit-by-pitch and a passed ball in the top of the ninth to strand the tying runner at second base.

The four-game series in downtown Hagerstown continues on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Right-handed starter James Bourque (1-3, 4.87) goes to the mound first against the Fireflies. The Suns are expecting record-breaking crowds throughout the weekend.

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