Nationals Minor League Notebook: June 4

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Photo: Buzzy Cohn

By Michael Marzzacco

Compiled via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): Sunday’s scheduled series finale between the Syracuse Chiefs and Columbus Clippers has been postponed due to impending rain throughout the afternoon in Syracuse. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader when the Chiefs visit Huntington Park in Columbus July 20-23, with the date and time of the doubleheader to be announced.

Sunday’s scheduled Autism Awareness Day will now be Sunday, July 16th, during the 1:05 p.m. game against the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Syracuse hits the road for a seven-game road trip against the PawSox and Rochester Red Wings, starting Monday night at McCoy Stadium at 7:05 p.m. The Chiefs return home to open a three-game homestand against the PawSox on Tuesday, June 13th at 6:35 p.m.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): A.J. Simcox hit a two-run triple in the second inning, and Gabriel Quintana homered and had two hits as the Erie SeaWolves topped the Harrisburg Senators 6-3 on Sunday. The SeaWolves swept the four-game series with the win.

The triple by Simcox, part of a three-run inning, gave the SeaWolves a 2-1 lead before Harold Castro hit an RBI single later in the inning.

After Erie added a run in the fifth on a home run by Quintana, the Senators cut into the deficit in the sixth inning when Jose Marmolejos hit a two-run home run.

The SeaWolves later tacked on two runs in the eighth when Grayson Greiner and Simcox hit solo home runs to secure the victory.

Erie southpaw Tyler Alexander (3-4) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing three runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings. Opposing starter Matt Crownover (0-1) took the loss in the Eastern League game after allowing three runs and eight hits over four innings. Sean Donatello pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for his sixth save of the season.

Erie improved to 7-3 against Harrisburg this season.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): A pair of solo home runs and two RBI singles were enough for the Frederick Keys (26-29) in a 4-2 win over the Potomac Nationals (26-30) Sunday night. LHP Hector Silvestre (L, 5-2) allowed a home run in the first frame, another home run in the fourth inning, and two runs in the fifth inning, while the Potomac offense had just two baserunners over the first eight innings. LHP Keegan Akin (W, 4-4) dominated the P-Nats, as the left-handed starting pitcher allowed just two hits over six-shutout innings.

After Akin struck out the side in the top of the first inning, the Keys went ahead for good in the home half of the frame. With one out, SS Ryan Mountcastle hit his team leading 12th home run of the season. Three innings later, C Armando Araiza led off the bottom of the fourth inning with his first home run of the season. The solo blast made it 2-0 Frederick.

The Keys’ pitching staff cruised through much of the night. On three different occasions, Frederick retired eight straight Potomac hitters. All three times, LF Matt Page ended the streak with a base hit, as he had three of Potomac’s four hits on the night.

Akin retired the first eight hitters of the night, and 18 of the 20 men that he faced. Page singled in the third and was left at first base, while he doubled in the sixth and was left in scoring position.

Silvestre gave up another pair of runs in the fifth inning. Mountcastle led off the frame with a double, his third hit of the night. Two batters later, RF Ademar Rifaela made it 3-0 with an RBI single. Three batters after that, DH Yermin Mercedes’ RBI single made it 4-0.

After six-shutout innings from Akin, RHP Mike Burke pitched two perfect frames. LHP Mitch Horacek pitched to the first two batters in the ninth for the Keys, but gave up a double to Page and walked CF Victor Robles. Frederick went back to the bullpen, as RHP Tanner Chleborad (SV, 4) allowed both inherited runners to score, but notched the save. C Taylor Gushue put Potomac on the scoreboard with a sacrifice fly, while 3B Kelvin Gutierrez made it 4-2 with an RBI single. Representing the tying run, 2B Austin Davidson grounded into a fielder’s choice, which ended the game.

Back at the bottom of the Northern Division, the P-Nats will get two chances against the Keys on Monday. Game one will be the postponed game from Pfitzner Stadium on 5/25. In game one, RHP Wirkin Estevez (3-3, 4.30) will start for Potomac. In game two, LHP Taylor Guilbeau (0-0, 6.23) will get the nod on the hill for the P-Nats. For the Keys, RHP Cody Sedlock (4-3, 6.20) and LHP Reid Love (1-1, 3.03) will get the start in games one and two respectively.

First pitch on Monday night is set for 5:00pm.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): A back-and-forth series concluded on Sunday with three unanswered runs by the Columbia Fireflies (29-25) in the late innings as the first-place Suns (33-23) dropped the finale of four games, 5-3. 

With a crowd of 4,116 at Municipal Stadium on Sunday, the Suns set a new four-game series attendance record with 22,578 fans filling the 87-year-old ballpark as Tim Tebow made his lone regular season visit to Hagerstown in 2017.

Hagerstown strikeout leader Tyler Watson (Loss, 4-2) struck out another five batters in five innings but allowed a two-run double to Luis Carpio in the fourth and the go-ahead, two-run homer to Michael Paez in the sixth. The 20-year-old lefty now has 64 strikeouts through 61 innings pitched this season.

Columbia added insurance in the eighth when Tebow drew a bases-loaded walk for his first and only RBI in the series. The 29-year-old left fielder went 0-for-2 on Sunday with two walks. He started all four games in Hagerstown, including one as the designated hitter, and finished 3-for-14 with three singles, two walks, and six strikeouts.

The Suns trailed 2-0 in the fourth before Anderson Franco launched a 413-foot shot that just barely fell short of clearing the 30-foot wall in left-center field. He settled for a game-tying, two-run double that scored Daniel Johnson and Nick Banks .

Jake Noll gave the Suns their first and only lead, 3-2, when he scored Blake Perkins from second on a single in the fifth for his team-leading 31st RBI of the season. 

Hagerstown bats went quietly in the final four innings with just three singles. The Suns finished 2-for-11 at the plate with runners in scoring position.

After winning two of four games against Columbia, the Suns remain in first place atop the South Atlantic League Northern Division by 1 1/2 games over the Lakewood BlueClaws. Monday is a league-wide off day in the SAL before Hagerstown opens a three-game road series against the Greensboro Grasshoppers on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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