The Potomac Nationals (25-23, 13-12) used 16 hits to crush the Salem Red Sox (26-23, 13-14) 10-6 in series Game Three on Sunday afternoon at Salem Memorial Ballpark. The Nationals’ victory ended a four-game losing streak and set up a set split opportunity for Memorial Day Monday.
The Nationals tallied the first run of the game in the top of the opening frame against the eventual losing pitcher of record, Salem LHP Cody Kukuk (1-3). A leadoff single from Potomac 2B Tony Renda ripped into right-center field then 3B Oscar Tejeda punched a one-base knock through the four hole with Renda on the run to put runners on the corners. Kukuk unleashed an errant pickoff attempt and Renda raced to the plate to give the P-Nats an early 1-0 lead.
Kukuk went on to allow seven runs, six earned, in 4.2 innings on nine base hits while fanning six, walking two, unleashing one wild pitch, and surrendering one home run
Salem countered with one run in the bottom of the 1st off the winning pitcher, RHP Dakota Bacus (2-1) to tie the game at 1-1 as Red Sox 1B Mario Martinez connected on an RBI single into center field scoring SS Jonathan Roof, who walked.
Bacus dealt 5.0 innings and gave up three earned runs on six hits amidst four walks and six strikeouts.
Potomac grabbed a 3-1 lead with two runs in the 2nd inning courtesy of a run-scoring single into center field lined by CF Narcisco Mesa before a 6-3-5 double play ball off the stick of Renda plated the double of C Pedro Severino. Renda received an RBI because Severino scored before the twin killing was completed as Mesa tried to take third base and was gunned out corner-to-corner.
The contest was tied at 3-3 in the home half of the 3rd inning when LF Bo Greenwell laced an RBI double to the right field corner before Roof sprayed an RBI single down the right field line to bring home Greenwell.
P-Nats RF Will Piwnica-Worms then blasted a solo home run over the left field wall in the 4th to help the Nationals regain the advantage. This deep fly was Piwnica-Worms’ first dinger of the 2014 season.
Five runs came home for the visiting club in the 5th to propel Potomac to a 9-3 edge as Kukuk was knocked out of the game in favor of RHP Kyle Martin. In the inning, the Nationals collected five straight two-out hits including a single from 1B Shawn Pleffner, an RBI one-base knock from LF Randolph Oduber, a two-run double from 2B Khayyan Norfork, a run-scoring single from Piwnica-Worms, and a double from Severino that also scored a run.
An inning later, the Nationals tacked on one more run when Pleffner shot a single through the deep hole at shortstop scoring the two-base knock of Tejeda which was cranked off the left field barrier.
Salem got to Nationals LHP Kylin Turnbull in the 7th inning to yield a 10-6 score after Turnbull had turned in a 1-2-3 inning in the 6th. Turnbull allowed three earned runs on five base hits. Roof ripped an RBI single into left field and Martinez socked a run-scoring double along the left field line off the lefty. In relief of Turnbull, Nationals RHP Travis Henke allowed an RBI infield single along the third base chalk raked by RF Kevin Heller bringing in one inherited runner. This run was charged to Turnbull.
Henke was magnificent in relief going 2.2 scoreless innings and allowing just that one hit while walking one and fanning a trio.
Henke struck out DH Kevin Mager swinging in the 7th stanza to strand the bases loaded. Mager was the tying run at the plate at the time.
After tossing a perfect 8th inning, Henke hung a zero to shut the door in the 9th inning and seal the 10-6 win for the Nationals. Henke got Red Sox 2B Reed Gragnani on a 4-3 groundout, Martinez on a strike out looking, and Heller on a sharply struck groundball out to SS Stephen Perez which was heaved to first base to finish the contest.
On Memorial Day Monday, the Nationals and Red Sox will finish this four-game series with a 1:00pm matinee first pitch.
The P-Nats will send RHP Ian Dickson (1-3, 5.27) to the mound to oppose Salem RHP Luis Diaz (5-3, 3.50) in the Game Four finale tomorrow.
The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network, which is accessible at www.potomacnationals.com, will broadcast the Memorial Day showdown tomorrow. Broadcast coverage will begin with the P-Nats Leadoff Show at 12:45pmin preparation for the 1:00pm first pitch.