The Potomac Nationals (12-8, 5-4) engaged the Winston-Salem Dash (6-14, 3-6) in a close contest through 7 ½ innings on Thursday night at Pfitzner Stadium before the P-Nats exploded for six runs in the bottom of the 8th inning to break a 2-2 tie which propelled the home club to an 8-2 victory.
The Nationals win evened the three-game set heading into a deciding Game Three tomorrow night.
Winston-Salem RHP Braulio Ortiz went 5.0 innings and allowed two earned runs on five base hits without a walking a batter and the righty fanned four.
Potomac LHP Nick Lee cruised through 3.0 perfect frames before allowing one run following a leadoff triple to SS Tim Anderson in the 4th. Anderson stole home amidst a double steal attempt with the trail runner, RF Adam Heisler motoring into second base to get the base swipe. P-Nats C Pedro Severino sailed the throw down to second base allowing Anderson to fleet to the home plate dish to give Winston-Salem a 1-0 lead.
Lee surrendered just one earned run on one base hit through 4.0 stanzas and walked just one hitter while striking out seven before leaving due to an undisclosed injury while Lee was warming up to begin the 5th inning.
Neither Ortiz, nor Lee factored into the decision.
Potomac scored their first two runs of the game on one swing from CF Randolph Oduber in the 5th off Ortiz. After Severino was hit in the crown of the helmet by an offering from Ortiz, Oduber blasted an RBI triple over the head of Heisler in right field that banged up against the outfield wall. Oduber scored himself as the second cutoff man, Anderson bobbled a throw from the barrier to give the Nationals a 2-1 edge.
Nationals RHP Dakota Bacus took over and gunned through 3.0 perfect frames and logged a strikeout in relief.
In the 8th, the Dash got to RHP Robert Benincasa (2-0), the eventual winning pitcher of record, who blew his first save of the season when CF Jacob May, who walked, scored on a wild pitch unleashed through Severino’s legs that went to the backstop.
In a crazy home half of the 8th with the score at 2-2, the Nationals used a five-hit attack and exploited a pair of errors made by the losing pitcher, RHP Kyle Hansen (0-1), who would go on to allow three runs as the Nationals brought ten men to the plate.
Oduber reached on a single ripped through the left side, 2B Khayyan Norfork laid down a sacrifice bunt up the first base line, and Hansen heaved the baseball up the right field line to put Oduber on third base and allow Norfork to be safe at first base. On an errant pickoff attempt by Hansen which went as an additional throwing error, Oduber scored to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead and the mistake sent Norfork to third base. 1B Kevin Keyes chopped a run-scoring single into center field to deliver Norfork and provide an insurance run as Potomac went up 4-2. The P-Nats then poured it on as LHP Jefferson Olacio walked RF Brandon Miller before LF Mike McQuillan dragged a bunt single to the right of the mound, and SS Stephen Perez punched a two-RBI double to the right field corner to put the Nationals up 6-2. The Nationals weren’t done as Severino lofted an RBI sacrifice fly to right field and 1B Justin Miller cranked a run-scoring double to the left field corner to plate Perez and bust the game open as the Nationals garnered a six-run lead. The benches cleared briefly in the 8th inning when Perez came into the third base bag on the sac fly by Severino following a shoving match between Perez and Dash 3B Nick Basto. Both benches were warned after the incident.
In the 9th, Benincasa struck out LF Courtney Hawkins swinging, got 1B Keon Barnum to fan looking, and DH Jason Coats flew out to CF Will Piwnica-Worms, who was inserted defensively with Oduber moving to left field for the final inning, to seal the win for the Nationals. Benincasa’s final line included one earned run, one walk, one hit, and two strikeouts in 2.0 innings.
In series Game Three, the Nationals will throw RHP Brian Rauh (1-1, 4.58) and the Dash will send RHP Mike Recchia (1-2, 4.11) to the hill in the rubber match.
The 2014 P-Nats Team Poster giveaway is scheduled for Friday night sponsored by: hibu for the first 1,000 fans and it will also be Fauquier County Night.
The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network, which is accessible at www.potomacnationals.com, will broadcast the series finale on Friday night beginning with the P-Nats Leadoff Show at 6:50pm before the live play-by-play at 7:05pm.