Keys shock Potomac in doubleheader sweep
In two back and forth matchups, the Potomac Nationals (26-32) came up short twice, as the Frederick Keys earned a doubleheader sweep Monday night. The Keys walked off 3-2 in 11 innings in game one, and bounced back from two blown leads in an 8-6 victory in game two.
In the first half of the twin bill, the teams cruised through the first five innings, but ended up taking 3:15 to wrap up the matchup. Frederick scored two runs in the third inning on a home run from 2B Ricardo Andujar off of RHP Wirkin Estevez (ND), while Potomac plated two runs in the sixth frame against RHP Cody Sedlock (ND).
After Sedlock tossed five scoreless frames, the Frederick starting pitcher allowed a hit to each of the first to men that he faced in the sixth inning. With a 2-0 lead, Sedlock gave up a leadoff triple to 3B Kelvin Gutierrez, while 1B Ian Sagdal followed with an RBI single. Sedlock departed for LHP Luis Gonzalez (BS, 1). LF Jack Sundberg laid down a bunt, and while Gonzalez fielded it cleanly, his throw went into right field, which put men on first and second base. SS Edwin Lora tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but Gonzalez fielded it and retired the lead runner at third base. After RF Rhett Wiseman flied out, DH Matt Page tied the game with an RBI single.
After three scoreless frames from RHP Ronald Pena, the P-Nats went to RHP Gilberto Mendez (L, 1-2) for the 10th inning. Mendez retired the side in order in the 10th, but with two outs in the bottom of the 11th frame, RF Ademar Rifaela ended the marathon with a no-doubt walk-off home run to right field. It was Frederick’s lone hit over the final five innings.
RHP Mario Alcantara, LHP Mitch Horacek, and RHP Zeke McGranahan (SV, 1) allowed just two hits over 4.1 scoreless frames. McGranahan struck out two and retired the side in order in the top of the 11th inning, which gave Rifaeala the chance to end it with the home run in the home half of the frame.
Game two featured more offense and more lead changes, but the same end result for Potomac. In his first start of the season, LHP Taylor Guilbeau (ND) allowed three runs on nine hits over four innings.
The Keys struck first for the third consecutive game in the series, as the first three batters singled in the second inning. 1B Alex Murphy made it 1-0 Frederick with an RBI single, while CF Austin Hays plated a second run in the frame with a two-out single. The Keys notched five singles in a span of six batters in the two-run inning.
Potomac began its first comeback with a run in the top of the third inning, as C Jake Lowery homered off of LHP Reid Love (ND). Lowery’s second home run of the season cut the deficit in half.
The P-Nats took the lead with three runs against Reid in the fourth inning, though the P-Nats failed to hold the lead. The first four men reached for Potomac in the fourth inning. Sundberg scored the tying run on an RBI single by Sagdal, while SS David Masters put the P-Nats on top with an RBI single that deflected off of Reid. Page had an RBI double, which capped off the scoring, as Potomac took a 4-2 lead into the back half of the seven-inning affair.
The Keys answered immediately with a run in the bottom of the fourth inning with consecutive one-out doubles by C Yermin Mercedes and Murphy. Guilbeau stranded a man at second base, as he finished four innings in his first start of 2017.
In the top of the fifth inning, Potomac got the run right back, but then gave three runs to the Keys in the home half of the frame. Love, who gave up five earned runs over five innings, surrendered a leadoff single to CF Victor Robles. After Robles stole second base, Sundberg moved him to third base with a sacrifice bunt. With the infield drawn in, DH Austin Davidson grounded out sharply to Murphy at first base. The Frederick first baseman didn’t field it cleanly, yet threw to the plate anyways, well after Robles crossed the plate, as Davidson picked up the RBI.
Trailing 5-3, the Keys turned the deficit into a one-run lead with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. RHP Kyle Schepel (L, 1-2) entered for Guilbeau and immediately got into trouble. Hays drew a leadoff walk, while SS Ryan Mountcastle singled to right field. After Schepel retired the next two hitters, the Keys executed a double steal, as Mountcastle stole second base, and Hays scored from third on Lowery’s throw to second base. Just after the double steal, 3B Shane Hoelscher put the Keys back on top with a two-run home run.
The defense for both sides became sloppy in the sixth inning, about 5.5 hours after the doubleheader began. In the top of the sixth, Potomac tied the game thanks to two errors on one play. After Masters singled, Page dribbled one to the pitcher’s mound. RHP Alex Katz (W, 1-1) fielded it, but threw the ball into the Frederick bullpen, and Andujar’s throw back to the plate went to the backstop. Errors on the pitcher and second baseman allowed one run to score and put Page on third base, though the P-Nats stranded Page at third base and sent the game to the bottom of the sixth tied at six.
Like the Keys, a defensive error for Potomac in the sixth inning proved costly. With one out, DH Steve Laurino singled. Andujar followed with a ground ball to Schepel, and what could have been an inning-ending double play turned into an error on Schepel, as the reliever’s throw to second base went past Lora and into centerfield. With men on the corners and one out, Hays put the Keys ahead with a sacrifice fly. Two batters later, Gassaway made it 8-6 with an RBI single. In the seventh inning, Potomac got a leadoff walk, but RHP Tanner Chleborad (SV, 6) struck out two and got a groundout to wrap up the doubleheader sweep.
A season high six games under .500, the P-Nats will try to avoid their first four-game sweep of the season Tuesday morning. Potomac will send RHP Nolan Sanburn (0-1, 3.86) to the hill to start the series finale. Sanburn has not started a game for Potomac, but tossed five innings in his season debut. For the Keys, LHP Brian Gonzalez (2-3, 5.70) will make his 11th start of the season. Gonzalez gave up seven earned runs over five innings in his last start, and has not picked up a victory since 5/2/17.
First pitch on Tuesday is set for 11:00am. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 10:45am with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.