Nationals Minor League Report: July 4

Photo: @SunsGroundsCrew

By Michael Marzzacco

Your 4th of July update of the Nationals prospects.

Compiled via team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League):

Photo: The Chiefs’ first sellout crowd in two seasons enjoyed a Fourth of July at NBT Bank Stadium. (Danny Tripodi | Syracuse Chiefs)

The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 8-0, on Tuesday night at NBT Bank Stadium. A sellout crowd of 11,731 watched the Chiefs on Independence Day, the 16th-highest in stadium history.

Lehigh Valley (53-32) kicked off the scoring early in the first inning against Jaron Long. Scott Kingery led off the game by smoking a single past the glove of Irving Falu at third base and into left field. Following a J.P. Crawford strikeout, Jorge Alfaro plated Kingery with a double into the left-center field gap. On the next pitch, Dylan Cozens cranked his 19th home run of the season into right-center field, scoring himself and Alfaro and putting the IronPigs out in front 3-0.

Another long ball increased the IronPigs’ lead in the fifth. With one out, Kingery pulled a 2-1 offering from Long directly down the left-field line for a double. One batter later, Crawford, the Phillies’ top prospect according to Baseball America, crushed a moon shot over the right-field fence for a two-run homer and a 5-0 lead for Lehigh Valley.

The IronPigs added to their lead in the top of the sixth. Rhys Hoskins, who was recently named a Mid-Season All-Star, led off with a single to center. A wild pitch from Long allowed Hoskins to advance to second. After a strikeout and a fly out, Herlis Rodriguez singled to left, plating Hoskins.

Lehigh Valley wasn’t finished. Tom Eshelman, the IronPigs’s starting pitcher, singled to center. Two batters later, Crawford homered to right, for his second long ball of the game. It was his first two-home run game since August 14, 2014 with Clearwater.

The Chiefs blasted nine hits but were unable to score. Eshelman pitched seven scoreless innings for the IronPigs.

Despite giving up six runs, Jaron Long struck out ten batters through six innings of pitching for Syracuse (30-52). It was his career high and the most by a Chiefs pitcher this season.

Syracuse returns to action Wednesday night against Lehigh Valley at 6:35Greg Ross is on the hill for the Chiefs while former #1 overall pick Mark Appel will pitch for the IronPigs.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): Eric Haase homered twice as the Akron RubberDucks topped the Harrisburg Senators 5-2 on Tuesday.

Akron went up 5-0 in the fourth after Tyler Krieger hit an RBI single and then scored on a two-run home run by Haase.

The Senators cut into the deficit in the seventh inning when Corban Joseph scored on a wild pitch and Osvaldo Abreu scored on a groundout.

Akron southpaw Matt Whitehouse (5-3) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing two runs on six hits over six innings. Opposing starter Kyle McGowin (0-4) took the loss in the Eastern League game after giving up five runs and seven hits over five innings. Jordan Milbrath pitched three scoreless innings for his first save of the season.

With the win, Akron improved to 3-1 against Harrisburg this season.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): 3B Dan Gamache ended a July 4th celebration for the Potomac Nationals (38-44, 5-8) with a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night. Potomac’s 7-5 victory snapped a four-game losing streak and earned a series opening victory over the Frederick Keys (35-47, 4-9) in front of a season-high 10,579 fans at Pfitzner Stadium.

Potomac held command of the matchup for nearly the entire ballgame, never trailed, and led after a three-run bottom of the second inning. The P-Nats held the lead until the top of the ninth, when C Armando Araiza tied the game with an RBI single off of RHP Dakota Bacus.

The P-Nats sent seven men to the plate in the second inning against LHP Brian Gonzalez (ND). Potomac loaded the bases with no outs before SS Edwin Lora grounded into a force out at the plate. 2B Bryan Mejia followed with a sacrifice fly, while CF Victor Robles plated two runs with a double.

A sacrifice fly from 3B David Masters in the third inning lifted Potomac’s lead to 4-0, the largest lead of the night for either side.

Frederick battled back against LHP Taylor Guilbeau (ND) and scored three runs between the fourth and fifth innings. In the top of the fourth, SS Ryan Mountcastle hit his team leading 15th home run, a solo shot. The next frame, Araiza tallied his fourth home run of the season, as his two-run blast cut the Potomac lead to just one run. Halfway through the matchup, Potomac led 4-3.

After the P-Nats added a run in the sixth inning on a solo home run from Masters, the Keys scored a single run in each of the final two frames. In the eighth inning, Bacus inherited a runner and gave up an RBI double to 3B Shane Hoelsher. In the top of the ninth, 1B Alex Murphy led off with a ground ball down the third base line that took a massive hop over Masters, which led to a double. After a failed bunt attempt from CF Glynn Davis, Araiza tied the game with an RBI single to left field.

Following the blown lead, Robles led off the bottom of the ninth with a pop up to second base. RHP Karl Triana (L, 2-1) then walked Masters, which brought Gamache to the plate. After a 3-0 fastball went for a called strike, the Potomac third baseman hit the 3-1 pitch over the right field wall for Potomac’s second walk-off win of the season. RHP Kyle Schepel (W, 2-3) recorded the final out of the top of the ninth inning and earned the win.

With a victory in the first game of the seven-game homestand, the P-Nats will look to make it two in a row, as RHP Luis Reyes (5-8, 4.63) is scheduled to start for the P-Nats Wednesday night. Reyes didn’t allow an earned run last time out, though picked up the loss in his six-inning outing vs. Buies Creek. For the Keys, RHP Ofelky Peralta (1-8, 6.67) will try to snap Frederick’s three game losing streak. Peralta has surrendered four earned runs in each of his last two starts, neither of which went longer than three innings.

First pitch is set for 7:05pm Wednesday night. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:50pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at or on the TuneIn Radio App.

Game Two of the homestand brings with it $20K Winning Wednesday. The P-Nats have upped the ante on Winning Wednesdays, with two opportunities for fans to win $10,000! If any P-Nats player hits a grand slam in the seventh inning, one fan will walk away with $10,000; while if the starting P-Nats pitcher throws a complete game no-hitter of at least nine innings, another fan will win $10,000. These contests are free to enter, and fans can sign up at the fan assistance booth. Fans must be present to win.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): Suns starting pitcher James Bourque earned his third consecutive win and A.J. Boguckipicked up his first save in the South Atlantic League with three scoreless innings as Hagerstown bested the Greensboro Grasshoppers in a 5-1 victory on Independence Day at Municipal Stadium.

The Suns (10-3, 48-34) opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. Daniel Johnson led off with a single to bump his hitting streak to 11 games and later scored from second base on a two-out RBI double by Jakson Reetz. 

Bourque (Win, 4-3) struck out five of the first nine batters he faced before he allowed an infield single to Eric Gutierrez on a tricky grounder back to the mound that scored Brian Miller from third and tied the game, 1-1.

Hagerstown took the lead again in the bottom of the fourth against Greensboro starter Dylan Lee (Loss, 3-9). A two-out rally began with an infield single by Nick Banks before Anderson Franco and Telmito Agustin tallied back-to-back RBI doubles to give the Suns a 3-1 cushion.

Bourque wiggled out of trouble in a scoreless fifth inning. With Grasshoppers on second and third, Suns second baseman Tyler Beckwith fielded a ground ball and made an aggressive throw home that led to a rundown between second and third base for the second out. Moments later, with runners at second and third again, a pitch bounced away from the catcher, Reetz, but Bourque came forward to cover the plate and applied the inning-ending tag on Aaron Knapp to preserve the 3-1 lead for Hagerstown.

The Grasshoppers (6-7, 43-38) never closed the gap as Bourque exited after six innings with one earned run on seven hits, no walks, and six strikeouts. Hagerstown added insurance in the eighth inning. With Aldrem Corredor at second and two outs, Reetz grounded to short, but Luis Pintor missed the throw to first and Corredor pounced on the mistake by racing around to score. Banks followed with a line shot to the fence in right-center field to score Reetz from first and gave the Suns a 5-1 advantage.

Banks finished with the only multi-hit game for the Suns after a 2-for-4 day the plate, an RBI, and a run scored.

Bogucki began the seventh and retired eight batters in a row. The Grasshoppers slapped two infield singles with two outs in the ninth but Bogucki ended the game with a fly out and picked up the second save of his career and first since last August with the Auburn Doubledays in the New York-Penn League. The 22-year-old from Norristown, Pennsylvania finished three shutout frames with two hits, no walks, and a strikeout.

The Suns are undefeated at home on Independence Day since the 2007 season and they’ve won 10 of the last 13 home games in 2017.

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