Ninth-inning homer lifts P-Nats
With the game knotted at 1-1, down 0-2 in the count with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, RF Rhett Wiseman tallied his team-leading 14th home run. The solo blast off of RHP Michael Matuella (L, 2-5) gave the Potomac Nationals (40-34, 3-4) a 2-1 victory on the road against the Down East Wood Ducks (38-40, 3-5).
Both sides got stellar starting pitcher performances, as Potomac LHP Ben Braymer (ND) allowed just one run over six innings, while Down East RHP Walker Weickel (ND) matched Braymer and allowed just one run over six frames. Both starting pitchers struck out eight batters, but neither factored in the decision.
Potomac scored its lone run off of Weickel in the third inning, as the P-Nats struck first for the fourth time thus far in the series. Singles to start the frame from DH Nick Banks and SS David Masters put men on the corners with no outs for 2B Bryan Mejia. Mejia made it 1-0 with a sacrifice fly, the only time Potomac scored until Wiseman’s home run in the ninth inning.
The Wood Ducks tied the game up against Braymer an inning later, as CF Leody Taveras led off the home half of the fourth inning with a single. After Braymer picked up a strikeout, 1B Andretty Cordero connected with an RBI double, which tied the game. The Wood Ducks loaded the bases with one out in the frame, but failed to push the go-ahead run home. Down East went 1-9 with RISP and left 10 men on base in the loss.
After the starters had departed, RHP Cole Wiper worked two scoreless innings for Down East, while RHP A.J. Bogucki worked a scoreless inning in his Potomac debut. For the home half of the eighth inning, RHP James Bourque (W, 3-2) issued a leadoff walk to SS Anderson Tejeda, and saw him advance to third base on a stolen base and throwing error by C Tres Barrera. The stolen base came on a strikeout, and Bourque followed that with a strikeout of 2B Chuck Leblanc. 3B Brendon Davis walked, but Bourque got DH Alex Kowalczyk to ground out, which ended the frame.
Down East went back to the bullpen for the ninth inning, as RHP Michael Matuella (L, 2-5) became the third Wood Ducks pitcher of the night. The right-handed reliever got two quick outs, and got ahead of Wiseman 0-2. But on the 0-2 pitch, Wiseman scorched a ball over the right field wall for a go-ahead solo home run. Wiseman is now tied for the league lead in home runs with 14.
Bourque returned to the mound for the ninth inning. C Melvin Novoa led off the home half of the final frame with a single off of the glove of 3B Ian Sagdal. The Wood Ducks pinch ran Eric Jenkins for Novoa, who advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. With the tying run at second base, Bourque struck out LF Josh Altmann, and then got Taveras to fly out to CF Jack Sundberg to end the game, as Potomac won 2-1.
The five-game series is set to conclude on Friday night. For Potomac, RHP Matthew DeRosier (0-0, 18.00) will make his first career Carolina League start. DeRosier went 3-4 with a 3.79 ERA in seven starts for the Hagerstown Suns earlier this season. The Wood Ducks will counter with RHP Emerson Martinez (4-7, 4.38). Martinez allowed just four hits and one unearned run in a victory over Potomac at Northwest Federal Field on 4/11.
First pitch at Grainger Stadium on Friday is set for 7:00pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:45pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com, at http://bit.ly/P-NatsBroadcast, or on the TuneIn Radio App.