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P-Nats come from behind in rainy 4-3 win

p-natsDespite a steady onslaught of rain throughout the latter part of Sunday afternoon’s game, the Potomac Nationals (9-7) rallied from a 3-0 deficit and picked up a 4-3 victory over the Lynchburg Hillcats (8-8). Potomac scored a single run in the fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth innings, and earned their first win of 2017 when trailing after six frames.

For the third time in the three-game series, the Hillcats scored the first run of the game, and for the second consecutive game, it came in the first inning. After RHP Wirkin Estevez (ND) retired the first two Lynchburg hitters that he faced, 1B Sicnarf Loopstok reached on an error by 3B Kelvin Gutierrez. RF Andrew Calica followed with a single, and DH Martin Cervenka made it 1-0 with an RBI single.

Once the rain began, it appeared as though Lynchburg may have put the game away with two runs in the fourth inning. C Daniel Salters, CF Jodd Carter, and SS Willi Castro each hit consecutive singles. Castro’s base hit made it 2-0 Lynchburg, while 2B Sam Haggerty made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.

Opposite Estevez, RHP Matt Esparza (ND) dazzled over five innings, as he struck out a season-best nine batters. Esparza gave up just one run, and it was unearned. CF Dale Carey reached on a fielder’s choice groundout in the fifth inning, took second base on an errant pickoff attempt by Esparza, made it to third base on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI single by SS David Masters. Esparza left in line for the victory, but the Lynchburg bullpen faltered on numerous occasions.

RHP Justin Garcia entered for the top of the sixth inning, and his first pitch to 1B Ian Sagdal left the ballpark. Sagdal’s third home run of the season made it a one-run deficit for the P-Nats. RHP Argenis Angulo (BS, 2) entered for the eighth inning, and he gave up a two-out rally. C Taylor Gushue doubled with two outs, and RF Rhett Wiseman tied the game with an RBI single.

Tied as the game went to the ninth inning, RHP Leandro Linares (L, 0-1) got Carey for the first out of the inning. Masters and DH Bryan Mejia followed with consecutive singles, but Linares got 2B Austin Davidson to fly out on the first pitch of the at-bat. Sagdal followed with a routine ground ball to Castro, but the shortstop’s throw to second base in an attempt to get Mejia was high and went off the glove of Haggerty. The error was charged to Haggerty, which allowed Masters to score what ended up as the game-winning run.

The Potomac bullpen required just one reliever, as LHP Matthew Crownover (W, 3-0) was perfect in relief of Estevez. Crownover got the final out in the sixth inning, and then set down the side in order in the seventh, eighth, and ninth frames. Crownover retired all 10 men that he faced, as he tallied his team-leading third win of the season.

After a league wide off day on Monday, the P-Nats will return to Pfitzner Stadium and begin a three-game series with the Frederick Keys. Tuesday night, RHP Luis Reyes (1-2, 3.94) will make his second start of the season vs. the Keys. He tallied his first win of the year vs. Frederick, as the righty allowed just two earned runs on eight hits over six innings on April 12th. LHP Brian Gonzalez (0-2, 5.65) will make the start for the Keys. The lefty enters the series off of his best performance thus far, as he allowed just two earned runs over six innings in a no-decision against Winston-Salem on April 19th. First pitch at Pfitzner Stadium is set for 7:05pm. The Potomac broadcast gets underway with the “P-Nats Leadoff Show” at 6:50pm. The broadcast can be heard on potomacnationals.com or via the TuneIn Radio App.