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10th inning homer lifts P-Nats past Keys

Justin Bloxom hit the game-winning home run in the top of the 10th and Potomac clinched its third straight series win with a 6-4 victory in Frederick on Thursday night.

Potomac (9-6) has won the past three sets against Winston-Salem, Wilmington, and now Frederick (7-7). It’s also the second straight come from behind win. On Wednesday night, the P-Nats trailed the Keys 4-0 before winning 9-5. Tonight, Potomac fell behind 4-1.

The comeback started in the top of the fifth. Centerfielder Eury Perez led off the inning with a single up the middle. Shortstop Francisco Soriano and second baseman Jeff Kobernus followed with back-to-back bunt singles to load the bases for the P-Nats leading RBI man, Destin Hood. The Mobile, AL native bounced a ground ball to third to score Eury Perez and chop Frederick’s lead to 4-2. Potomac shrunk the deficit down to one when Francisco Soriano scored from third on a wild pitch. Key’s starter Bobby Bundy did reach back and minimize the damage by striking out Justin Bloxom and Steven Souza to get out of the fifth.

The P-Nats closed the gap for good one inning later. Potomac’s hottest hitter J.P. Ramirez began the inning with a rope double to right-field. The Texan is hitting a perfect .400 (20-50) over the last ten games. Tonight, he went 3-5 with two doubles.

Catcher Sandy Leon advanced Ramirez to third on a sacrifice bunt, and Eury Perez brought him home on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at four.

The P-Nats pen shut down Frederick over the final four frames to send it to extras. Massachusetts native Mitchell Clegg pitched two perfect innings between the sixth and seventh and struck out two. Lefty Joe Testa also entered in a tough spot – game-winning run at second and two outs in the bottom of the ninth – and struck out Steve Bumbry on a devastating breaking ball for the final out.

With the game locked at four in the top of the tenth, third baseman Justin Bloxom came up with one out and the bases empty. The Kansas State product pounced on a pitch from Ryan O’Shea and hit a towering fly ball the cleared the fence in right field. Bloxom’s seventh home run of the season put Potomac on top 5-4.

The Nats grabbed an insurance run three batters later when Sandy Leon hit a sacrifice fly to score Steven Souza. The catcher’s 17th RBI made it a 6-4 game.

P-Nats closer Hecotr Nelo came on in the bottom of tenth and iced away the Keys. The righty did walk shortstop Manny Machado, but it ended up being insignificant. Nelo struck out Bobby Stevens and induced a couple of groundball outs from Kipp Schutz and Miguel Abreu to finish off the game. For Nelo, it was his 8th save of the season.

With the win, Potomac stays in first place in the Carolina League Northern Division.

The P-Nats go for the series sweep Friday night at 7 pm. Lefty Danny Rosenbaum (4-3, 2.80) throws for Potomac. Frederick has righty Oliver Drake (7-3, 2.24) on the mound.