P-Nats lose early lead, fall 5-4 in 11 innings
Playing at home on Easter for the first time in nearly a decade, the Potomac Nationals (5-5) lost two separate leads, and eventually fell victim to three straight 11th inning hits, as the Wilmington Blue Rocks (5-5) took the series finale 5-4 at Pfitzner Stadium Sunday afternoon.
For the first time in the four game series, the P-Nats scored the first run of the game. SS Edwin Lora drew a one-out walk against RHP Cristian Castillo (ND) in the first inning, and after a double by 1B Ian Sagdal, 3B Kelvin Gutierrez made it 1-0 Potomac with a sacrifice fly.
After a perfect first inning, RHP Wirkin Estevez (ND) gave up a leadoff home run to CF Anderson Miller, which tied the game at one in the top of the second inning. Estevez gave up just one run on two hits over six innings, the best start from a starting pitcher for Potomac through the first 10 games of 2017.
Potomac tagged Castillo for a run in the fourth inning and a pair of runs in the fifth. Castillo issued a leadoff walk to LF Dale Carey in the fourth inning, and he later scored on an RBI single by 2B Bryan Mejia. In the fifth frame, Gutierrez reached on an error by 2B DJ Burt, and RF Rhett Wiseman followed with a single. Carey made it 4-1 Potomac with a two-run triple, the first of two hits on the day for the outfielder. Potomac did not score after that, as the P-Nats went just 2-15 with RISP and left 14 men on base, nine in scoring position.
In relief of Estevez, RHP Kyle Schepel (BS, 1) walked two and gave up three hits in a three-run seventh inning for Wilmington. C Chase Vallot drew a one-out walk, while RF Roman Collins followed with a single. 3B Wander Franco made it a two-run game with an RBI single, before Schepel struck out LF Jonathan McCray. After 1B Colton Frabasilio walked, SS Nicky Lopez tied the game with a two-out, two-run single, though Wilmington left the go-ahead run at third base.
The two teams traded zeroes after that, as RHP Jacob Bodner and RHP Jared Ruxer (W, 1-1) tallied 5.1 combined shutout innings for Wilmington, while LHP R.C. Orlan notched three-shutout innings for Potomac.
After Wilmington stranded two men in scoring position in the 10th inning, the Blue Rocks rallied with one out in the 11th frame against RHP Whit Mayberry (L, 0-1). Collins and Franco singled, while McCray’s RBI double made it 5-4 Blue Rocks. The first two Potomac hitters reached against Ruxer in the bottom of the 11th inning before he retired Sagdal. RHP Andres Machado (SV, 2) relieved Ruxer and retired Gutierrez on a groundout, which moved the runners to second and third base. After Wilmington intentionally walked Wiseman, Carey grounded out to Franco to end the game.
The loss for Mayberry was the first loss for a Potomac relief pitcher this season. Sunday was the second straight game in which Potomac outhit the Blue Rocks yet ended up with the loss.
Off of their first series loss of the season, the P-Nats will welcome in the Down East Wood Ducks, who will visit Pfitzner Stadium for the first time in franchise history. First pitch of the series opener is set for 7:05pm Mondaynight. The Potomac broadcast gets underway with the “P-Nats Leadoff Show” at 6:50pm. The broadcast can be heard on potomacnationals.com or via the TuneIn Radio App.