P-Nats clinch first-half title with 2-0 win
Behind seven-shutout innings from RHP Joan Baez (W, 3-5), the Potomac Nationals (35-29) earned the crown as first half champions in the Northern Division in the Carolina League. A 2-0 shutout victory over the Buies Creek Astros (36-30) got Potomac back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The teams traded zeroes through the first 3.5 innings, as Baez and RHP Tyler Ivey (L, 0-1) went toe-to-toe. The P-Nats struck first, as a leadoff walk in the home half of the fourth inning provided the eventual game-winning run. CF Blake Perkins drew a leadoff walk, and eventually scored on a single from LF Alec Keller paired with an error by Buies Creek LF J.J. Matijevic.
An inning later, Potomac made it 2-0, the eventual final, on a pair of singles from RF Rhett Wiseman and C Tres Barrera, paired with a sacrifice fly from 3B David Masters. Two runs proved to be more than enough, as Baez spun his best outing of the season.
The Potomac right-handed starter matched his season high with seven innings on the mound. Baez allowed just three hits and struck out four, as he pitched Potomac to a first half championship. The righty worked around a leadoff walk in the opening frame, and stranded the potential tying runs in scoring position in the seventh inning.
Out of the Potomac bullpen, both RHP Ronald Pena and LHP Jordan Mills (SV, 6) pitched a scoreless inning. Mills got 1B Jake Adams to fly out to right field to end the game, which clinched the Northern Division for Potomac.
With the victory, Potomac manager Tripp Keister set the franchise record for wins with his 314th win as a member of the Potomac Nationals.
Off of the win, the P-Nats will turn towards Friday night, as RHP Tyler Mapes (5-1, 2.04) is set to take the mound after the clinching victory. For the Astros, RHP Carson LaRue (3-3, 4.80) will look to even the series.
First pitch at Northwest Federal Field on Friday is set for 7:05pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:50pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.