Nationals Minor League Notebook: June 8

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Courtesy of the Potomac Nationals 

By Michael Marzzacco

Compiled via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Rochester Red Wings on Thursday from Frontier Field. Chiefs right-hander A.J. Cole threw seven strong innings in the victory, and Syracuse broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the sixth inning to hand him the necessary run support.

After five scoreless innings, Syracuse (18-37) struck for three runs against Aaron Slegers in the sixth. Brandon Snyder singled and Matt Skole doubled to start the inning to put runners on second and third. Pedro Severino followed with a two-run double off the left-center field wall to start the scoring. The double was Severino’s first since April 27th. After a pair of fly outs, Irving Falu lined Slegers’ first pitch back up the box, singling home Severino to give the Chiefs a 3-0 lead.
Rochester (26-29) answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning against Cole. Engelb Vielma and Zack Granite each singled to start the frame. After the runners moved up on a groundout, Matt Hague hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Vielma and put the Red Wings on the board. Then, with Mitch Garver batting, Cole threw two consecutive wild pitches, allowing Granite to move to third and then to score to bring the Red Wings within one.
Those were all the runs allowed by Cole, who retired the first eight batters he faced and finished his outing with a 1-2-3 seventh. In seven innings, he surrendered just six hits and two earned runs, walking none and striking out five. Cole has thrown to a 2.81 ERA over his last four starts, lowering his season ERA from 8.31 to 5.32.
The Red Wings rallied against Matt Grace in the eighth and nearly tied the game. With one out, Vielma singled and Granite double, putting a pair of runners in scoring position. Grace then induced a groundout to first from J.B. Shuck, holding the runners, before he exited for Trevor Gott. The right-hander took just one pitch to escape the inning on a Hague groundout to shortstop.
Gott closed the game in the ninth, sealing the win with a double play and a strikeout.
The Chiefs and Red Wings will play game two in a four-game set Friday at 7:05. Syracuse right-hander Sean Sullivan will oppose Rochester southpaw Adam Wilk.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League): Osvaldo Abreu had two hits and three RBI as the Harrisburg Senators beat the Altoona Curve 6-2 on Thursday.

Harrisburg started the scoring in the second inning when Abreu hit an RBI single and then scored on a two-run single by Corban Joseph.

After Altoona scored a run in the third on a single by Kevin Kramer, the Curve cut into the deficit in the fourth inning when Jerrick Suiter hit a solo home run.

The Senators later tacked on three runs in the fifth when Isaac Ballou drew a bases-loaded walk and Abreu hit a two-run double to secure the victory.

Altoona missed a scoring opportunity in the seventh, when Kramer grounded out with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Taylor Hill (2-1) got the win in relief while Altoona starter Yeudy Garcia (2-4) took the loss in the Eastern League game.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): A return back home and a series vs. the lowest scoring offense in the Carolina League proved to be the remedy for the Potomac Nationals (27-33), as they snapped a four-game losing streak with a 10-0 victory over the Down East Wood Ducks (21-38) Thursday night. RHP Luis Reyes (W, 5-5) equaled his career high with 10 strikeouts over a career high eight innings. The right-handed starter faced just one over the minimum and did not walk a batter in the victory.

After 2.5 scoreless innings, Potomac got the offensive onslaught started with a two-run third frame. The P-Nats scored two runs with two outs against LHP Wes Benjamin (L, 3-6), as 2B Austin Davidson and C Taylor Gushue provided consecutive RBI singles. Benjamin gave up five earned runs on nine hits over 4.1 innings.

Reyes cruised through almost the entirety of his outing. The Potomac starter struck out two men in the first inning, struck out the side in the second frame, and retired the first 10 men that he faced. His start consisted of seven 1-2-3 innings.

Down East’s only offensive threat came in the fourth inning. SS Josh Morgan hit a one-out double, but came up lame rounding first base, as Arturo Lara replaced him at second base. RF Preston Scott followed with a single to centerfield, but after CF Jack Sundberg overthrew second base, Reyes threw out Scott at the second base bag for the second out of the inning. Reyes then retired the final 13 men that he faced in order.

Potomac knocked Benjamin out of the game in the fifth inning, as four straight hitters reached with one out. After Davidson doubled, Gushue walked. 3B Kelvin Gutierrez tallied the first of his two doubles on the night, which plated Davidson. 1B Ian Sagdal followed with a two-run double, which forced the Wood Ducks to go to the bullpen. Sagdal’s third of four hits on the night made it 5-0 Potomac.

The P-Nats added a run in the sixth inning against RHP Scott Williams, and officially put the game away with four runs in the seventh inning against RHP Tyler Davis. Sagdal drove home Gutierrez with an RBI single, while LF Matt Page and DH Edwin Lora each then reached base. After RF Rhett Wiseman flied out, Masters hit a three-run, two-out home run down the left field line. Masters’ second home run of the season made it 10-0, the eventual final.

After eight-shutout innings from Reyes on just 92 pitches, the P-Nats went to the bullpen. RHP Tyler Skulina saw 2B Brallan Perez reach on an error with one out, but the Down East second baseman forgot how many outs there were, and got doubled up at first base on CF Matt Lipka’s pop out to 2B Bryan Mejia. Mejia ended the game with an unassisted double play at first base. The rout ran the Wood Ducks’ losing streak to seven games, while Potomac improved to 5-2 vs. Down East.

Fresh off of the shutout victory, the P-Nats will turn to LHP Grant Borne (1-1, 1.09) in game two of the series on Friday night. Borne made his first start of the season against the Lynchburg Hillcats last time out, when he allowed one earned run over six innings. Opposite Borne, RHP Richelson Pena (3-2, 3.62) will make his third start of the season vs. Potomac. Pena is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA (4/9.2) vs. the P-Nats in 2017 and has totaled 18 innings in his last two starts.

First pitch on Friday night is set for 7:05.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League): Eric Gutierrez hit a three-run home run in the first inning, leading the Greensboro Grasshoppers to a 7-3 win over the Hagerstown Suns in the second game of a doubleheader on Thursday.

The home run by Gutierrez scored Walker Olis and Colby Lusignan to give the Grasshoppers a 3-0 lead.

After Greensboro added two runs in the fourth, the Suns cut into the deficit in the fifth inning when Blake Perkins and Aldrem Corredor hit back-to-back home runs.

The Grasshoppers later tacked on a run in both the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Gutierrez hit an RBI single, while James Nelson hit an RBI single in the sixth.

Reilly Hovis (1-0) got the win in relief while Hagerstown starter Yonathan Ramirez (0-1) took the loss in the South Atlantic League game.

The Grasshoppers swept both games of the doubleheader after winning the first game 5-4 in nine innings.

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