Keys walk-off as Potomac drops fourth straight
A night after playoff contention elimination, the Potomac Nationals (62-75, 29-39) fell in walk-off fashion for the ninth time in 2017. A bases loaded fielder’s choice groundout in the bottom of the ninth inning moved the Frederick Keys (66-70, 35-32) within one game of a playoff spot in a 3-2 final.
For the eighth time in the last nine games, the P-Nats gave up the first run of the contest. Friday night, RHP Joan Baez (ND) gave up a run in the first inning on back-to-back two-out hits. Carolina League MVP RF Ademar Rifaela doubled and then scored on an RBI single by CF Glynn Davis. In the second inning, a double by 3B Jomar Reyes and an RBI single from LF Randolph Gassaway made it 2-0. The Keys did not score again until the final play of the night. Baez walked five and allowed seven hits over 4.1 innings.
Like Baez, LHP Brian Gonzalez (ND) failed to make it through five innings. The lefty saw his defense implode behind him in the third inning, as both 2B Ricardo Andujar and SS Chris Clare committed errors, while the infield also made two other defensive mistakes. Despite this four miscues, Potomac only scored one run, as SS Edwin Lora scored on Andujar’s fielding error. The P-Nats left the bases loaded in the inning, which they also did in the fifth frame.
In the top of the fifth, Potomac strung three straight one-out singles together. An RBI base hit by 1B Ian Sagdal tied the game, and after LF Dale Carey drew a two-out walk, the Keys went to the bullpen and brought in RHP Mike Burke. Burke fell behind DH David Masters 3-1, but got Masters to fly out to right field and leave the bases loaded. Potomac went just 2-12 with RISP on the night and left nine men on base, six in scoring position.
The Keys did not fare any better with men in scoring position in the game, as Frederick went just 3-15 with RISP and left 14 men on base, 10 at either second or third base. RHP Steven Fuentes did not allow a hit over 1.2 innings for the P-Nats, while RHP Jorge Pantoja (L, 1-3) stranded a man at second base in each of his first two innings of work.
Pantoja returned for Potomac to begin the ninth inning, but DH Brallan Perez led off with a first pitch single to centerfield. After Pantoja walked Rifaela, the P-Nats went back to the bullpen and brought in RHP Tommy Peterson. The righty quickly struck out Davis, but walked C Armando Araiza, which loaded the bases for Reyes. The Frederick third baseman hit a high chopper to Lora, who spiked a throw to C Jakson Reetz, who couldn’t get a glove on the ball. The walk-off fielder’s choice groundout gave Frederick the 3-2 victory and lowered the Keys’ magic number to one.
The P-Nats will look to level the series against Frederick on Saturday night, as LHP Taylor Guilbeau (4-4, 5.23) will get the start for Potomac. Guilbeau went on the disabled list after his last start on 8/24, and has an ERA of 11.17 in his last two starts. For the Keys, RHP Matthew Grimes (0-2, 4.91) will make his second straight start vs. Potomac. Last Sunday, Grimes gave up two runs over 3.2 innings in a loss to the P-Nats.
First pitch on Saturday is set for 6:00pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 5:45pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.