Minors Roundup: P-Nats sweep ‘Cats, Sox swept, Richmond splits
P-Nats sweep ‘Cats The Potomac Nationals swept a doubleheader against the Lynchburg Hillcats, winning 6-1 in Game 1 and holding on to a 4-2 victory in Game 2. With the sweep, Potomac pulls within four and a half games of Lynchburg for first place in the Northern Division of the Carolina League.
Game 1: Potomac 6, Lynchburg 1 Adam Olbrychowski was brilliant tossing a complete game for the Nationals as they took Game 1 over the Hillcats 6-1. The complete game was the second of the season for the P-Nats after Matt Swynenberg threw the teams first on April 29th. It was also the first in the career of Olbrychowski in his 58th start.
Olbrychowski (2-4) allowed just one run and two hits in his seven innings of work while striking out four batters. He retired the last ten batters he faced and did not allow a hit after the second inning.
Edward Salcedo put Lynchburg on top 1-0 in the second inning with a solo home run to left field — his seventh blast of the season.
The Nationals put together a two-out rally in the third inning against Dimasther Delgado. With runners on the corners and two down, David Freitas singled to left field. Blake Kelso scored from third base and Ricky Hague scored all the way from first on an error by Adam Milligan. Zach Walters followed that with a two-run home run, his first of the season, to give the P-Nats a 4-1 lead.
Potomac added two more runs in the fourth inning. Justin Bloxom led off the frame with a single and he came around to score on a triple by Randolph Oduber. Kelso stepped to the plate next and doubled to deep left-center field to score Oduber and extend the lead to 6-1.
Delgado (3-2) did not make it out of the fourth inning lasting just three and one-third. He was saddled with the loss allowing a season-high six earned runs on nine hits.
Game 2: Potomac 4, Lynchburg 2 In Game 2, Bobby Hansen Jr. made the start for the Nationals against undefeated J.R. Graham of the Hillcats.
Lynchburg played small ball in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead. Chris Garcia led off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Salcedo. Garcia came in to score on a safety squeeze dropped down by Matt Weaver.
Tommy La Stella doubled the Lynchburg lead in the third inning with an RBI double scoring Mycal Jones to make it 2-0. La Stella has 15 RBI this season against the Nationals.
Potomac battled back to tie the game with two runs in the fourth. Walters hit his second home run of the day to bring Potomac within a run and Francisco Soriano tied the game at 2-2 with an RBI single that scored Michael Taylor.
Bloxom gave the P-Nats their first lead of Game 2 in the fifth inning with his team-leading seventh home run, a two-run shot, to make it 4-2.
Joe Testa (1-0) picked up his first win of the season out of the bullpen throwing an inning and a third of shutout baseball and Neil Holland earned his second save of the year.
J.R. Graham (6-1) took his first loss of the season in his 11th start for the Hillcats. He went five innings yielding four runs on seven hits and two walks.
Sox swept More than six hours after baseball began, the Pelicans emerged with a pair of road wins over the Red Sox at LewisGale Field. Beginning on Saturday and spanning into Sunday morning, Myrtle Beach swept a doubleheader by taking game one 5-2 in seven innings before earning a 6-4 triumph in nine in the nightcap. Missed opportunities plagued Salem throughout the night, as the Sox stranded 20 men on base in the 16 innings of baseball, leaving 14 of those 20 men in scoring position.
In the opener, the Pelicans took advantage of Ryan Pressly’s early erraticness in the first inning, receiving three walks, all that ended up costing Pressly as Myrtle Beach took a 3-0 lead on Vinny DiFazio’s double into the gap. The Sox retaliated with a pair in the last of the first against Pelicans ace Cody Buckel, but Salem would not score again despite putting runners on base in six of the seven innings. In relief, Ben Henry dealt three and a third scoreless innings for Myrtle Beach to earn his first Carolina League win.
Both teams scored in the first inning again in the second contest, with Myrtle Beach using three singles and an error to assume a 2-0 lead against Manny Rivera before the Sox scratched a run against Randol Rojas to inch back within one. Two frames later, the Pelicans surged to a 3-1 lead on Christian Villanueva’s RBI single, but the Sox delivered three doubles to score a pair and tie it at three. Sean Coyle, Brandon Jacobs, and Xander Bogaerts all doubled off Rojas to even the score.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Rivera was late to cover first on a Teodoro Martinez grounder and Martinez reached with an infield single. After Jared Hoying was hit by a pitch, Villanueva smacked his second RBI single of the game to give the Pelicans a 4-3 lead. In the last of the sixth, James Kang tripled home Drew Hedman from first to even the score. But Salem couldn’t drive in Kang from third with one out and the score remained tied. The Sox put the winning run at third base in the last of the seventh and eighth innings, but never cashed in with the ultimate clutch hit. Salem finished 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position in the nightcap, 6-for-30 in the doubleheader.
The Pelicans rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth (the second extra inning) against Mike Olmsted, who suffered his first loss in the Carolina League. A single, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with one out, and the tie was broken when Yefry Castillo scurried home from third on a wild pitch. Martinez singled to center to drive in Odubel Herrera and give Myrtle Beach a 6-4 advantage. In the last of the ninth, Jacobs reached first with one out on Herrera’s throwing error, but Bogaerts grounded into a game-ending double play again Randy Henry, who became the second Pelican Henry to earn a win on Saturday. The game ended approximately ten minutes into Sunday morning, or less than 16 hours before the two squads are scheduled to meet again.
Richmond earns split After losing a ninth-inning lead in the series opener, the Richmond Flying Squirrels (26-30) rode left-hander Mike Kickham to a, 5-0, shutout win over the Erie SeaWolves (26-28) in the second game of the evening at The Diamond. 8,576 were in attendance as Erie prevailed, 3-2, in the completion of Friday night’s suspended game, and Richmond split the quasi-double header.
The Squirrels got on the board first prior to the suspension of the series-opener on Friday night. Just before rains came in the bottom of the second, Juan Perez opened the inning with a single off of Erie left-hander Jared Wesson. Newcomer Mark Minicozzi then rifled a double to center field to bring Perez around for a 1-0 lead. It was the first at-bat as a Flying Squirrel for Minicozzi.
Neither starter continued upon the game’s resumption on Saturday. Richmond right-hander Chris Heston worked two scoreless innings, not allowing a hit and walking one. He didn’t factor in the decision, but exited the contest having lowered his minor league best ERA to 0.68.
Richmond cashed in their second run in the second inning following the restart. Johnny Monell was at the plate when the game was suspended, and he came back up against right-hander Patrick Cooper. He laced a double to left field, and Minicozzi strolled in for a 2-0 lead. The run was charged to Wesson, who was credited with an inning plus two batters. He was tagged with two runs on three hits, walked one and struck out one.
Left-hander Chris Gloor followed Heston on the mound for the Squirrels and worked four strong innings. He did not allow Erie a run while conceding four hits, walking two and striking out three.
Cooper was equally stingy, turning in five scoreless innings of relief through the sixth inning. Cooper allowed just two hits and struck out five. Right-hander Zach Samuels followed and held the Squirrels at bay through two more innings.
Right-hander Jake Dunning replaced Gloor and turned in two scoreless innings through the eighth inning. The Squirrels held their 2-0 lead into the ninth inning when the wheels fell off. Dunning allowed a lead-off double to Robert Brantly and walked Jordan Lennerton to put the tying runs aboard. Right-handed closer Brett Bochy was summoned, but couldn’t finish the SeaWolves. Rawley Bishop greeted him and flared a double into right field to bring in Erie’s first run. The double moved the tying run to third base and put the go-ahead run at second base. Bochy struck out Tony Plagman for the first out, but Brandon Douglas decked a two-run triple to right field to allow Erie to overtake the Squirrels, 3-2.
Bochy (3-2) took the loss for the Squirrels, also enduring his third blown save of the season (6-9). The loss marked just the second time (22-2) that Richmond had suffered defeat when leading after eight innings.
Samuels (3-0) took the win for Erie, his third of the year. Right-hander Robbie Weinhardt had little trouble with the Squirrels in the ninth and earned his fourth save of the season.
Richmond wouldn’t need the bullpen in the second game, as left-hander Mike Kickham was spectacular over seven two-hit innings. He blanked the SeaWolves for his fourth win of the season, walking just one and striking out eight. Kickham turned in the first complete game of the season from a Richmond pitcher.
The first run of the second game of the series scored in similar fashion to the first. Again, Minicozzi drove home Perez in the second inning for a 1-0 lead. On this occasion, Minicozzi lifted a sacrifice-fly to right field off of Erie right-hander James Avery.
Tommy Joseph sparked the Squirrels as they doubled their lead against Avery in the fourth inning. Joseph led off with a double ripped to center field. A batter later, Perez singled to put runners at the corners with one out in the inning. Monell brought in Joseph for a 2-0 lead when he sent a fielder’s choice to second base.
Richmond got back after Avery for three more runs in the fifth inning as they pulled away. Ryan Cavan pulled a single through the right-side of the infield to get the Squirrels started. Gary Brown followed and cracked a double down the third-base line. Richmond had runners at second and third with nobody out and Ehire Adrianza sent a sacrifice-fly into left field to plate Cavan. Brown took third on the play, and scored when Daniel Mayora laid down a successful suicide-squeeze bunt. With the bases clear and two down, Avery created more trouble with a walk issued to Joseph. Juan Ciriaco and Perez supplied back-to-back singles to bring around Joseph for a 5-0 lead.
Avery (5-5) was saddled with the loss in the nightcap, allowing five runs on eight hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out two.