The Potomac Nationals (25-25, 13-14) were bested by the Winston-Salem Dash (20-30, 9-14) by the final score of 8-2 at BB&T Ballpark on Tuesday evening in the series opener of a three-game series to wrap a two-city bus trip.
The Nationals have fallen out of first place in the Carolina League’s Northern Division after suffering their 25th loss of the 2014 season tonight.
Potomac is now (1-4) on the current road journey after losing three out of four games to the Salem Red Sox (Boston).
Winston-Salem starting hurler, Frank Montas (3-0), the reigning Carolina League Pitcher of the Week was stellar en route to his third win in 2014 with the Dash.
Montas dealt 6.2 innings turning in a quality start in which he surrendered just two runs, one earned, on five hits while walking one and fanning eight.
Potomac RHP John Simms was solid but did not receive enough run support to avoid his third loss of the season.
Simms was tagged for three earned runs on seven base hits and walked three despite fanning five.
The bulldog righty did strand a total of eight runners in his five innings of duty and left the bases loaded in the 4th frame.
The Dash made a bid for the first run of the game with 2B Joey DeMichele at second base in the 2nd inning following a groundball single through the deep hole at shortstop. A wild pitch got DeMichele into scoring position and Winston-Salem C Michael Marjama ripped a low line drive into shallow right-center field which Potomac CF Narciso Mesa caught with a stellar tumbling attempt to keep the game a scoreless stalemate.
The Nationals were the first club to score. In the 3rd inning, P-Nats C Pedro Severino dribbled an infield single to Dash SS Tim Anderson before stealing second base. SS Stephen Perez then laced an RBI single on the ground passed the dive of DeMichele to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead.
The Dash answered right back in the home half of the 3rd with a three-run spot. Simms walked the bases loaded after Dash 3B Justin Jirschele rapped an infield single off the glove of P-Nats 1B Shawn Pleffner, who dove along the first chalk in advance of the single nailed into center field by CF Jacob May and a walk handed out to LF Courtney Hawkins. Dash RF Jason Coats worked an RBI base-on-balls, DeMichele lofted a run-scoring sacrifice fly to deep center caught by Mesa, and 1B Keon Barnum sprayed an RBI single into center field.
The P-Nats made it a 3-2 game in the 4th stanza as RF Will Piwnica-Worms reached on a dropped fly ball off the glove of Coats in the right field corner that led to an RBI 6-3 groundout off the lumber of LF Justin Miller.
Nationals LHP Bryan Harper endured the roughest relief outing of his 2014 campaign allowing five runs, four earned, on three hits and three walks. Harper did strike out a pair.
In the 6th, Winston-Salem collected two runs via an RBI tripled cranked to the wall in dead center field by CF Jacob May that brought home the leadoff, four-pitch walk issued to Jirschele before a wild pitch brought in May.
The P-Nats mounted a threat in the 7th as the Nationals loaded the bases. Following a leadoff single into center field from Piwnica-Worms, Mesa worked a walk and Montas exited the game. Four straight balls out of the strike zone dealt to 2B Tony Renda from Winston-Salem RHP Brad Goldberg brought Perez in to swing. Goldberg induced a comebacker to the mound on the very first pitch and retired Perez at first base to extinguish the rally attempt.
In the 8th inning, the Dash got to Harper for three runs including one unearned run. The double from Anderson sent to the center field barrier scored along with the intentional walk given to Hawkins on a two-run double blasted to the right-center field alleyway off the stick of Coats. An error charged to Nationals Renda on a ball that took an erratic hop off his chest allowed DeMichele to reach base and another wild offering from Harper brought Coats to the dish giving the Dash an 8-2 advantage they would not relinquish.
Dash RHP Euclides Leyer shut the door in the 9th inning. Leyer induced a popup from Piwnica-Worms to second base then fanned Justin Miller looking. With two outs, Leyer allowed a single to Severino cranked into shallow left field then got Mesa swinging to end the game.
Game Two at BB&T Ballpark on Wednesday night will send Nationals LHP Kylin Turnbull (0-1, 10.80) to duel against Winston-Salem RHP Braulio Ortiz (0-4, 4.66).
First pitch from “The Bank” is scheduled for 7:00pm.
The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network, which is accessible at www.potomacnationals.com, will broadcast Game Two of this three-game series with the Winston-Salem Dash on Wednesday night. Live broadcast coverage will begin with the P-Nats Leadoff Show at6:45pm in preparation for the 7:00pm first offering.