Soto homers: Potomac Nationals win, 6-2

Potomac NationalsFor the second time in the past three years, the Potomac Nationals (11-9) have a 19-year-old with home run power. A rarity in the Carolina League, RF Juan Soto tallied his first home run at the Advanced-A level Wednesday night, something Victor Robles did just two seasons ago. Soto’s home run, paired with a dominant pitching performance from RHP Wil Crowe (W, 3-0) earned the P-Nats a 6-2 win over the Wilmington Blue Rocks (8-11).

Though Potomac came out on top, they gave up the first run of the game for the sixth consecutive game. Crowe allowed singles to both RF Rudy Martin and LF D.J. Burt in the first inning, and both ended up in scoring position on an error by SS Carter Kieboom. CF Khalil Lee followed with a ground ball that deflected off of 1B Ian Sagdal’s glove, which allowed both runners to score. Crowe settled in after that, as he retired the next three batters that he faced, and allowed only two more hits in his six-inning performance. Crowe tallied his second consecutive quality start.

The P-Nats had a chance before the Blue Rocks stepped into the batter’s box, as they loaded the bases on three walks from RHP Gerson Garabito (ND) in the first inning, but left them loaded. Potomac was more effective two innings later, as Soto made it a one-run game with an RBI single, and C Jakson Reetz tied the game with a two-out RBI base it. Garabito pitched only three innings, as a 31-pitch first frame caused the short outing.

From the Wilmington bullpen, RHP Jared Ruxer (L, 1-2) worked a scoreless fourth inning, but ran into trouble in the fifth frame. Singles from Kieboom and 3B Jake Noll, paired with a walk from Reetz, loaded the bases with two outs. DH Rhett Wiseman hit a slow roller to the right side of the infield, a ball that barely made it to the outfield grass, but was placed perfectly, as it plated two runs. Weisman’s single proved to be the game-winning hit.

Potomac added a run against the Wilmington bullpen in both the seventh and eighth frames. Soto took LHP Nolan Becker deep on the first pitch of the seventh inning, his first Carolina League home run. In the eighth inning, CF Blake Perkins made it 6-2 with a bases loaded sacrifice fly.

After six strong innings from Crowe, RHP Ronald Pena worked a perfect seventh inning, LHP Hayden Howard worked around three walks in a scoreless eighth frame, and RHP Gabe Klobosits tossed a scoreless ninth. Potomac has allowed just three runs over the first two games of the series, all in the first inning.

With a series win in hand, the P-Nats will look to LHP Matthew Crownover (1-1, 3.09) for their first series sweep of the season. Crownover allowed three runs over 5.2 innings against Wilmington in his season debut, and has pitched at least 5.2 innings in each of his first four starts. For the Blue Rocks, RHP Arnaldo Hernandez (1-0, 1.80) will make his fourth start of the season. He pitched 0.2 innings out of the Wilmington bullpen against Potomac in the first game of the season.

First pitch at Frawley Stadium on Thursday night is set for 6:35pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:20pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.