newsdueling shutout bids end wilmington walk off

Dueling shutout bids end with Wilmington walk-off


p-natsFor the third straight night, the Potomac Nationals (66-55, 32-21) fell to the Wilmington Blue Rocks (46-76, 20-34) in a close matchup. Wednesday night’s game was the closest of the three, as both teams took a shutout into the ninth inning. After 8.5 scoreless frames, the Blue Rocks took advantage of a funny hop off the lip of the infield grass and walked off on a bases loaded single by RF Elier Hernandez.

In Potomac’s third 1-0 shutout loss of the season, LHP Matthew Crownover (ND) has his best start of the season. In his first shutout start for Potomac, the lefty allowed just four hits, walked one, and struck out four over six innings. Crownover walked the first man that he faced but immediately got a double play. With two outs in the first inning, DH Samir Duenez doubled, but he was left at second base. It was the only extra base hit of the night for the Blue Rocks.

Crownover’s dominant start was slightly overshadowed by Wilmington RHP Zach Lovvorn (ND). Lovvorn, who entered the game with an ERA among the top 10 of qualified starters in the Carolina League despite a 2-14 record, allowed only three hits over seven shutout innings. Lovvorn struck out seven and walked only one. In five starts vs. Potomac, the righty is 0-3 with a 2.15 ERA.

Potomac threatened out of the gate against Lovvorn but then did not cause much trouble for the right-handed starter until his final frame. CF Victor Robles led off the game with a single while 2B Max Schrock reached on a fielding error by 1B Robert Pehl. With men on first and second and no outs, SS Osvaldo Abreu flied out to right field, which allowed both runners to advance. On the ropes, Lovvorn got C Raudy Read to pop out to SS Carlos Diaz and the righty struck out LF Alec Keller, which ended the inning. Potomac did not have another at-bat with a man in scoring position until the seventh inning and finished the night 0-8 with RISP.

Both starting pitchers cruised through the sixth inning, as RHP Whit Mayberry (L, 3-4) came on for Crownover in the seventh inning and worked a perfect frame. Lovvorn ran into trouble in the seventh frame, as Potomac put together a two-out rally. 3B Bryan Mejia tripled off the wall in right field with two outs, and 1B Matt Page was hit by a pitch. With men on the corners, 2B Austin Davidson struck out and ended the inning.

Out of the Wilmington bullpen, RHP Jake Newberry gave up a one-out double to Schrock in the eighth but retired the other three men that he faced in the inning, while LHP Kyle Kubat (W, 4-1) gave up a leadoff single to Keller in the ninth, but stranded him at third base as he got Page to ground out to 2B Austin Bailey.

Scoreless through 8.5 innings, Mayberry returned for the ninth after he faced the minimum over his first two frames. Bailey nearly hit a walk-off home run down the right field line on the first pitch of the inning, but it drifted foul. Bailey then singled on a ground ball up the middle. Duenez followed with a ground ball into the shift, as Abreu was playing on the opposite side of the second base bag. What looked like it could have been a double play ball took a bad hop off the lip of the infield grass and exploded over the head of the shortstop. Duenez’s single put men on the corners with no outs. Mayberry intentionally walked CF Brandon Downes, and the P-Nats brought Keller in as a fifth infielder with the bases loaded. Needing just a sacrifice fly to win, Hernandez drilled a single into centerfield, which plated pinch runner Brian Bien from third base, and gave Wilmington its third straight win over Potomac.



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