Home Big night for Masters paces P-Nats to doubleheader sweep

Big night for Masters paces P-Nats to doubleheader sweep

p-natsOn a night where it took six hours from the first pitch of game one until the final pitch of game two, the Potomac Nationals (29-22 Overall, 15-12 Road) improved to a season best seven games over .500 with a doubleheader sweep of the Frederick Keys (25-28 Overall, 9-17 Home). 3B David Masters had a go-ahead RBI double in extra innings of game one that proved to be the game-winner in a 6-5 final, and then had a pair of home runs in 9-2 drubbing of the Keys in game two.

In game one of the twin bill, the P-Nats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead over rehabbing starter Yovani Gallardo (ND) in his first outing since he went on the Baltimore Orioles’ disabled list on April 23rd. CF Andrew Stevenson led off the game with a single, one of three hits in the game for the centerfielder. After Stevenson stole second base, the first of his three steals in the game, a groundout by DH Osvaldo Abreu moved Stevenson to third base, and an RBI single by 1B Jose Marmolejos made it 1-0 Potomac. 3B Drew Ward followed with a single, and LF Alec Keller had his first of four singles on the night, an RBI base hit that put the P-Nats up 2-0.

Gallardo stranded the bases loaded in the first inning, stranded men at the corners in the second inning, but Masters’ two-out RBI single in the third frame put Potomac up 3-0. Opposite Gallardo, RHP Greg Ross (ND) made his fourth start of the season. Though he allowed runs for the first time as a starter, he got credit for a quality start. The Keys loaded the bases in the third inning with no outs against Ross, before the Potomac starter induced a run-scoring double play groundout by DH Wynston Sawyer. The only other run over Ross’ six innings came on a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, as RF Cam Kneeland hit his third home run of the season. Potomac led 5-2 after six innings, as the P-Nats plated two in the top half of the frame on an RBI double by Marmolejos and an RBI single by Keller.

Seemingly in complete control of the game, Potomac went to LHP RC Orlan (BS, W, 2-2) in the seventh with a three run lead. C Jonah Heim reached on an error by Masters to start the inning and it came back to bite Potomac. After CF Josh Hart flied out to centerfield, 2B Anthony Caronia walked, which brought the tying run to the plate. Homerless as a professional spanning more than 800 at-bats, LF Jay Gonzalez tied the game with a three-run home run off of Orlan with one out in the seventh. It was just Orlan’s second blown save of the season.

As the game went to extra innings, RHP Tanner Chleborad (L, 0-2), who had given up the pair of runs in the sixth, came back out for the eighth. Ward singled off of the righty to start the inning, before Chleborad picked up two quick outs. A single by C Matt Reistetter moved Ward into scoring position, and Masters made up for his seventh inning error with a go-ahead two-out RBI double. Masters’ second two-out hit of the night proved to be the eventual game winner, as Potomac led 6-5 after the top of the eighth. RHP Ryan Brinley (SV, 9) struck out two and worked around a single in the bottom of the eighth to tally his league leading ninth save.

Game two got off to a quick start for the P-Nats once again, as they scored in the first inning for the fourth consecutive game. Against RHP Lucas Long (L, 2-4), Abreu singled with one out in the first inning and came around to score on Marmolejos’ league leading 19th double. Potomac led 1-0 after half an inning, but gave the run back in the second.

In his first start of 2016, LHP Matthew Spann (ND) surrendered a one-out home run to RF Conor Bierfeldt in the second frame, which tied the game at one. That was the only run that the lefty allowed, as Spann went 3.2 innings and gave up five hits.

A pitcher’s duel through four turned into a Potomac onslaught in the fifth and sixth frames. Potomac sent 17 men to the plate over the two innings and scored eight runs. After two singles started the fifth inning against Long, Masters launched his fourth home run of the season over the wall in right field. The three-run blast put Potomac ahead for good, though more offense followed. Long followed the home run with a walk to CF Dale Carey, and Abreu ended Long’s night with a single. Out of the pen, LHP Max Schuh had to work the rest of the game despite his control issues. Schuh walked Marmolejos, which loaded the bases. C Raudy Read hit a sharp line drive to 2B Steve Wilkerson, who should have doubled off Marmolejos at first base, but his throw pulled 1B Aderlin Rodriguez off the bag. That proved crucial, as Schuh then issued back-to-back bases loaded walks to Ward and Keller. Schuh walked five and allowed three runs over 2.2 innings.

In relief of Spann, RHP Mario Sanchez (W, 2-0) recorded the final out of the fourth inning and then gave up his lone run in the fifth. SS Erick Salcedo began the frame with a single and scored on a sacrifice fly by Wilkerson. Potomac quickly answered in the sixth vs. Schuh with three more runs. Masters led off the sixth frame with his second home run of the night, Stevenson singled, stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI single by Abreu. With Marmolejos at the plate, Abreu took second base on a passed ball, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on another wild pitch. Marmolejos walked, but Read hit into an inning-ending double play. Sanchez went 3.1 innings and struck out four in his second longest outing of the season. Sanchez ended the game as he induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Wilkerson in the seventh.

In game one, Keller had Potomac’s third four-hit game of the season. Stevenson and Abreu each had four hits between the two games, while Keller had five total hits. Masters tied his season high with four RBIs in game two and had Potomac’s fourth multi-HR game of the season. Potomac’s 16 hits in game one was the second highest total of the season, one shy of the season high. Stevenson’s three stolen bases in game one tied the Potomac 2016 single game high, which was also set by the former LSU outfielder. With the doubleheader sweep, the P-Nats sit four games behind the Lynchburg Hillcats, the closest the club has been to the division lead since May 13th. Potomac has not been less than four games behind Lynchburg since the Hillcats swept the P-Nats in a doubleheader at Calvin Falwell Field in Lynchburg on May 4th.

With a chance for a four-game road series sweep, the P-Nats will turn to RHP Wirkin Estevez (0-3, 5.02)Friday night in Frederick. Estevez picked up the loss vs. Frederick on May 20th, as the righty allowed four earned runs over five innings at Nymeo Field. The Keys are set to counter with RHP Franderlin Romero (1-0, 1.50) who will make his first start of the year vs. Potomac. First pitch is set for 7:00pm at Nymeo Field.



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