Minors Roundup: Salem sweeps, P-Nats split

Salem sweeps two from ‘Cats Drake Britton tossed six scoreless innings in perhaps his finest start as a pro, Travis Shaw and Michael Almanzar both reached base six times, and the Salem Sox came up big in countless ways to sweep the Hillcats at City Stadium on Wednesday night, prevailing 6-3 in the opener and 7-1  in the nightcap.

Matt Barnes encountered the most turbulence he has experienced on the year in game one, but he still struck out eight Hillcats in four innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Ruben Flores retired all nine batters he faced to seal the victory in the opener, while Britton struck out seven and did not walk anybody in his dominating performance in second game, earning his third win of the season in the process.

In game one, the Red Sox trailed 1-0 after two innings before exploding for a four-run rally in the third, all accomplished with two outs. With the bases loaded, Michael Almanzar crushed a line-drive double to drive in a pair and lift the Sox in front 2-1. The very next batter, Xander Bogaerts, smashed a nearly identical double to left, driving in two more to give Salem a 4-1 advantage. The Sox never trailed again, despite Barnes giving up tallies in two more innings that twice brought Lynchburg within two.

Barnes did not factor in the decision and allowed multiple runs for the first time in his career. Making his tenth start, the 19th overall pick out of UConn gave up a run in the first, but bounced back by striking out the side in the second. He picked up two more punchouts in the third and three more in the fourth, working around two hits and a walk in his final frame on the mound. Despite allowing three runs, all earned, in four innings, his Carolina League ERA remains just 1.93, while his full-season ERA is 1.15. In ten starts, he has pitched 54.2 innings, striking out 78 and walking just seven.

Flores arrived in the last of the fifth and slammed the door shut, dealing three perfect innings out of the pen to earn his first Carolina League win. Flores struck out five and now has 23 strikeouts and just one walk on the season.

In game two, the Red Sox erupted early against Hillcats starter Ronan Pacheco, scoring five times in the first and once more in the second. Shaw belted home runs in each of the first two innings, crushing his third and fourth bombs of the season to help create separation in the nightcap. His first shot, a two-run dinger, gave Salem a 2-0 lead, and his solo blast in the second made it 6-0. Drew Hedman added an RBI triple in the first, while Carson Blair and Felix Sanchez each drove in a run with an RBI single.

With plenty of early run support, Britton simply attacked Hillcat hitters. For just the second time this year, the lefthander did not walk a batter, and he struck out seven in six scoreless innings, scattering five hits, all singles. After winning just twice in his first 34 appearances in the Carolina League, Britton has now won back-to-back ballgames after beating Frederick last Friday and Lynchburg on Wednesday. In his last seven outings, Britton has permitted just 10 earned runs combined.

Lynchburg broke up the shutout by scoring an unearned run off Michael Gleason in the ninth, but Salem still owned two Wednesday wins to improve to 28-21 and move within two games of the first-place Winston-Salem Dash (31-20); the Sox trail the Dash by just one game in the loss column with 21 contests remaining in the first-half pennant chase.

Finishing with 13 runs on 20 hits in the two games, the Sox were led by Shaw and Almanzar, who each reached base six times in eight plate appearances. Shaw also became the first member of the 2012 Salem Sox to record multiple home runs in a single game.

 

P-Nats split two with Pelicans Rehabbing 1B/OF Michael Morse had three hits over two completed games as the P-Nats split a pair with Myrtle Beach.  Morse said after the game he expects to play right field tomorrow for Potomac.

Morse remained in the lineup after the suspended game last night and had hits in three consecutive at bats over the course of the two games. Through two full games with Potomac playing DH, Morse is 3-for-6 with a walk and an RBI.  In a post game session with media, Morse says he expects to play five innings for the P-Nats in right field during tomorrow’s game with Myrtle Beach that starts at 7:05 PM.

Resumed Game

Potomac finished up their suspended game from last night and held off Myrtle Beach 5-3.

Last night’s game was resumed at 6:06 PM with Paul Applebee replacing Matt Grace on the mound for the Nationals holding a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Almost 22 hours after the original at bat started, Odubel Herrera was retired to end the inning on a flyout to center field. Applebee (2-1) recorded the win in relief going three and one-third innings yielding two runs on two hits.

The Nationals upped their lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the fifth with their second unearned run scored in the game. With Blake Kelso at third with one out, Michael Morse hit a slow chopper in front of the mound. Kelso scored as catcher Yefry Castillo could not handle the toss from pitcher Randol Rojas.

Jared Hoying gave the Pelicans their first run of the game in the top of the sixth connecting with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot, to cut the P-Nats lead to 4-1.

In the bottom of the seventh, Morse picked up his first hit with the P-Nats singling up the middle to score Adrian Sanchez and push the Nationals lead back to 5-1.

Myrtle Beach got a run closer in the eighth inning. After Josh Richmond doubled to lead off the inning, he came around to score on a groundout by Herrera to cut it 5-2 in favor of the Nationals.

Cameron Selik came on in the ninth inning for the Nationals. Despite allowing an unearned run, Selik picked up his seventh save of the season in eight chances to secure the 5-3 victory for the Nationals.

 

Game 2

Myrtle Beach won a pitcher’s duel in the second game of the night at Pfitzner Stadium knocking off Potomac 1-0 in a seven inning affair. The game marked the second time this season that the P-Nats have lost a 1-0 game to the Pelicans.

Michael Morse had three plate appearances for the Nationals in the second game. In the first inning, he hit a single off to right field.  His second at bat was his best of the rehab thus far: a shot that hopped off the right field wall for a double.  The hit marked the third straight at-bat Morse registered a hit.  His third and final at-bat in game two was a strikeout swining on a 2-2 pitch.

Myrtle Beach broke the scoreless tie with an unearned run in the top of the fourth inning against Potomac starter Trevor Holder. Christian Villanueva reached with a one-out single and moved up to second base on an error by Kelso at third base. With runners on the corner and two outs, Villanueva scored on an RBI single by Santiago Chirino to put the Pelicans up 1-0.

Despite outhitting the Pelicans eight to five, the Nationals could not push a run across against Myrtle Beach righty Nick Tepesch. The P-Nats left eight runners on base in the contest including two runners each in the first two innings.

Tepesch (4-3) picked up the victory for the Pelicans tossing five and two-thirds shutout innings surrendering eights hits and striking out seven batters. Randy Henry came on for the last four outs to record his seventh save of the season.

Holder (2-1) pitched very well but was saddled with his first loss of the season. Holder allowed an unearned run in six innings on five hits while striking out three.

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