Nationals Minor League Notebook: July 15 and 16

Weekend Minor League update.

From staff and wire reports:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League):

Saturday:

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Clint Robinson reached base four times on Star Wars Night. (Danny Tripodi | Syracuse Chiefs)​

A five-run eighth inning lifted the Pawtucket Red Sox over the Syracuse Chiefs, 7-4, on Saturday night at NBT Bank Stadium. Clint Robinson had an impressive day at the plate for the Chiefs, tallying a 3-4 line with a pair of doubles, a single, and a walk. On the mound, A.J. Cole pitched admirably, allowing just two runs in six innings of work while fanning six.

Syracuse (32-58) broke open a pitchers’ duel in the bottom of the fifth inning against Jalen Beeks. Alejandro De Aza led off the frame by smacking a fly ball over the head of Ryan Court in left field for a double. After a Michael Almanzar groundout advanced De Aza to third, Jhonatan Solano slapped a ground-ball single into left-center field to plate De Aza and put the Chiefs out in front 1-0.

Pawtucket (47-44) then took the lead in the top of the sixth versus A.J. Cole. With one out, Bryce Brentz singled into center field. After a Court fly out produced the second out of the inning, Rafael Devers, the Red Sox’ consensus top prospect, making his Triple-A debut, clobbered a double into right field, allowing Brentz to advance to third. One batter later, Matt Dominguez poked a single into center field, scoring both Brentz and Devers, moving the PawSox out in front 2-1.

The PawSox added to their lead in the eighth with Cody Satterwhite on the mound. Rusney Castillo kicked off the frame with a single into center field. Following a Brentz strikeout, with Court at the plate, Castillo stole second. In the same at-bat, Court hit a soft line drive over the head of Clint Robinson at first. The ball appeared to land in foul territory, but first base umpire Robert Moreno called it fair. Castillo scored on the play that allowed Court to pull into second. Billy Gardner came out to argue the call and crew chief and home plate umpire Dan Merzel called his crew together, but the play stood and doubled the Pawtucket lead to two. After left-hander Neal Cotts entered, Devers hit a 400+ foot, two-run home run over the right-field fence for his fourth hit of the day and his first Triple-A homer. One batter later, Heiker Meneses continued the rally with a single into left field. In the next at-bat, former Chief Dan Butler doubled off the center-field fence, scoring Meneses. Aneury Tavarez followed with a single into left field, bringing Butler in to score, and increasing the Pawtucket lead to 7-1.

The Chiefs retrieved a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth. With Jamie Callahan on the mound, Irving Falu walked to lead off the inning. After a Neftali Soto strikeout, Robinson doubled for the second time, advancing Falu to third in the process. In the next at-bat, Pedro Severino grounded out to Devers at third which allowed Falu to score. One batter later, De Aza hit a ground ball at the shortstop Brock Holt. The ball careened off Holt’s glove and into the outfield for a hit, scoring Robinson and cutting the PawSox’ lead to 7-3.

A ninth-inning rally pulled the Chiefs slightly closer in the final frame. With one out, Emmanuel Burriss singled into right field versus Noe Ramirez. After moving up to second on defensive indifference with Andrew Stevenson at the plate, Burriss scored on a Falu single over the head of Dominguez at first, plating Burriss and shrinking the lead to 7-4. With the tying run on deck, Ramirez struck out Soto to end the game.

Despite the final score, the starting pitching set the tone for much of the early part of the game with an outstanding pair of performances from both Cole and Beeks. Cole tossed six innings, allowing just two runs on eight hits, and striking out six. Meanwhile, for Pawtucket, Beeks was also brilliant, hurling six innings of one-run ball, allowing just five hits and punching out six.

Sunday: 

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Spencer Kieboom doubled twice as part of a three-hit day on Sunday. (Danny Tripodi | Syracuse Chiefs)

The Syracuse Chiefs fell to the Pawtucket Red Sox, 7-1, on Sunday afternoon at NBT Bank Stadium. Spencer Kieboom picked up three hits and doubled twice in the loss.

On the second pitch of the game thrown by Jaron Long, Aneury Tavarez hammered a shot over the right-field fence. Tavarez has knocked four home runs this season, all four have come against the Chiefs.

Syracuse (32-59) got on the board in the bottom of the second. Neftali Soto kicked things off with a liner off Marcus Walden to right. After Clint Robinson struck out, Kieboom smacked a double down the right-field line, moving Soto to third. Soto scored on a subsequent sacrifice fly by Caleb Ramsey.

Tavarez continued his dominance over Syracuse in the top of the third. With one man down, Tavarez crushed a fly ball to deep left-center. Andrew Stevenson lunged out but missed. Tavarez dashed over to third for a triple. Heiker Meneses followed with a single, plating Tavarez.

The PawSox (48-44) added to their lead with three straight hits in the top of the sixth. Meneses slashed a liner to left for a double. Rusney Castillo followed a 10-pitch at-bat with a single up the middle. With runners at the corners, the Triple-A Home Run Derby champion Bryce Brentz pummeled a pitch to straightaway center for his 19th homer of the year. Brentz had totaled 38 shots on Tuesday night’s Home Run Derby.

Pawtucket tacked on a run in the top half of the seventh. With two outs, Castillo struck out swinging, but a wild pitch by Kevin Jepsen allowed Castillo to advance to first. Brentz walked, and Matt Dominguez looped a double to right, plating Castillo.

The PawSox made the game 7-1 in the top half of the ninth. Brentz began a two-out rally with a single to center off Wander Suero. Dominguez then hit a high fly ball to right-center. Stevenson raced over from center but the ball landed at the track. Brentz scored on the Dominguez double.

Syracuse begins a seven-game road trip Monday night against Louisville at 7:05. Sean O’Sullivan will pitch for the Chiefs while Robert Stephenson takes the hill for the Bats.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern League):

Saturday: Raudy Read hit a two-run home run and had two hits, and John Simms pitched seven scoreless innings as the Harrisburg Senators topped the Richmond Flying Squirrels 5-2 on Saturday.

Simms (4-6) allowed three hits while striking out five and walking one to get the win.

After six scoreless innings, Harrisburg got on the board in the top of the seventh when it scored three runs, including a single by Simms that scored Osvaldo Abreu.

After Harrisburg added two runs in the eighth on a home run by Read, the Flying Squirrels cut into the deficit in the eighth inning when Myles Schroder hit a two-run double.

Sam Coonrod (3-8) went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and six hits in the Eastern League game. He also struck out four and walked two. Andrew Robinson retired the side in order for his third save of the season.

Sunday: Jerry Sands hit a two-run triple in the fourth inning, leading the Richmond Flying Squirrels to a 6-2 win over the Harrisburg Senators on Sunday.

The triple by Sands started the scoring in a four-run inning and gave the Flying Squirrels a 2-1 lead. Later in the inning, K.C. Hobson hit a sacrifice fly and Rando Moreno scored on an error.

The Flying Squirrels extended their lead in the fifth when Moreno hit a two-run single.

Richmond southpaw Nate Reed (1-1) picked up a quality start and the win after allowing two runs on eight hits over seven innings. Opposing starter Wirkin Estevez (2-1) took the loss in the Eastern League game after a rough outing in which he allowed six runs and seven hits over five innings.

Jose Marmolejos singled three times for the Senators.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League):

Saturday: After three consecutive shutout losses, the Potomac Nationals (40-51, 7-14) scored four batters into the series finale Saturday night. A run in the first inning snapped a 31-inning scoreless drought, while what looked like an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning proved to be the difference in Potomac’s 3-2 win over the Salem Red Sox (54-38, 14-9).

For the second straight night, CF Victor Robles  led off the game with a single. DH Jack Sundberg  followed with a bunt base hit. After the Salem middle infielders failed to turn a double play on a groundout by 2B Austin Davidson , they failed to do so again on a groundout by 3B Ian Sagdal . On Sagdal’s groundout, Robles scored, which was the first run for Potomac in more than 31 innings.

In the second inning, LF Dale Carey tallied a one-out double off of LHP Matt Kent (L, 6-4). After Kent retired 1B Matt PageRF Rhett Wiseman laced a two-out RBI single into centerfield, which made it 2-0.

A two-run advantage was more than enough for RHP Austen Williams (W, 1-1), who didn’t allow an earned run for the second straight start. After joining the P-Nats following 10 starts for Double-A Harrisburg, Williams has allowed just one unearned run over nine innings in two starts. Williams allowed just two hits and struck out seven over five-shutout frames.

The score stayed at 2-0 in favor of Potomac until the ninth inning. RHP Adam Lau entered from the Salem bullpen to begin the inning and gave up a one-out single to Carey. After Page took a called third strike, Wiseman tallied his second two-out RBI to centerfield, which made it 3-0 and proved to be the game-winning hit.

After five innings from Williams, RHP Nolan Sanburn (SV, 1) entered for Potomac and pitched through the end of the matchup. Sanburn kept the Red Sox off the scoreboard until the ninth inning. C Austin Rei drew a walk with two outs, while DH Tyler Spoon followed with a two-run home run on a 1-2 pitch. The home run pulled Salem within one run, but 3B Jordan Betts immediately fouled out to first base to end the game.

Sunday: The Potomac Nationals (40-52) dropped the first game of a three-game series at Frawley Stadium with a 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks (52-42) on Sunday afternoon. LHP Taylor Guilbeau twirled seven strong innings but the Blue Rocks won the battle of the bullpens. DH Chase Vallot walked off The Red, White & Blue with an RBI bloop single in the bottom of the 11th.

Wilmington wasted no time scoring first against Potomac. The Blue Rocks scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first inning. 2B D.J. Burt tripled to open up the Rocks offense. Two batters later, CF Brandon Downes hit a sacrifice fly to right field to give Wilmington a 1-0 lead.

Potomac answered immediately in the top of the second inning. SS David Masters singled to center with one out and advanced to second on a groundout to first by DH Rhett Wiseman . With two outs, RF Dale Carey evened the score at one with an RBI single to left field. Carey was thrown out trying to advance to second on the throw to the plate to end the top of the second.

Both offenses were held silent over the next nine innings. Guilbeau finished a season-high seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits and three walks. The left-hander fanned four in his seventh start of the season for the P-Nats.

The Blue Rocks pitching staff was equally as impressive. Wilmington put up zeroes against the P-Nats in 10 of 11 innings on Sunday. Potomac had chances to score. However, the Blue Rocks held The Red, White & Blue to 1 for 12 with RISP, stranding 13 on base in the extra-inning defeat.

Wilmington sealed the victory in the bottom of the 11th thanks to heroics from Chase Vallot. RF/SS Jecksson Flores reached first to begin the inning on an error by the third baseman. After a sacrifice bunt, 1B Chris DeVitodrew an intentional walk. Then, the bases were loaded after a single by 3B Wander Franco. Despite bringing in an outfielder as a fifth infielder, Vallot blooped one into left to walk off the P-Nats.

Sunday’s walk off victory marks the third time the Blue Rocks have walked off the P-Nats in 2017. Wilmington holds a 15-9 series advantage through the first 24 games. Potomac and Wilmington finish off it’s regular season matchups on Monday and Tuesday.

The P-Nats and Blue Rocks are back in action for the second game of a three-game set on Monday night from Frawley Stadium. Potomac sends LHP Hector Silvestre (7-4, 4.32) to the mound against RHP Andres Machado(5-7, 5.00) for Wilmington.

First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 pm.

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic League):

Saturday: OFF.

Sunday: Carlos Pena tossed a seven-hit complete game and Nick Banks hit a grand slam and had two hits, as the Hagerstown Suns topped the Lexington Legends 13-2 in the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday.

Pena (5-5) allowed two runs while striking out four and walking three to get the win.

Trailing 1-0, the Suns took the lead for good with four runs in the second inning. Daniel Johnson hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Blake Perkins en route to the three-run lead.

The Suns later added a run in the fourth and eight in the fifth to finish off the blowout.

Ofreidy Gomez (4-8) went 4 1/3 innings, allowing eight runs and 12 hits in the South Atlantic League game. He also struck out four and walked two.

For the Legends, John Brontsema homered and singled twice.

The teams split the doubleheader after Lexington won the first game 2-0.

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