P-Nats edge Hillcats, 4-3, on stellar defensive play by Sanchez
The Potomac Nationals (30-35 Overall, 15-19 Road) edged the Lynchburg Hillcats (31-34 Overall, 14-17 Home) 4-3 on Tuesday night at Lynchburg City Stadium in Game Two of the final road series of the first half to take a series triumph.
P-Nats 2B Adrian Sanchez made a stupendous defensive play to clinch the Nationals’ 30th victory of the season on a ball smoked on the ground towards the second base bag by Lynchburg DH Luigi Rodriguez in the bottom of the 9th inning with the game-tying run headed towards home plate. Sanchez ranged far to his backhand side to the middle of the infield diamond, collected the baseball, and slung an off-balanced throw to first base in time to cut down Rodriguez and seal the Red, White, and Blue “W.”
On Calvin Falwell Field, Nationals starter, RHP Nick Pivetta (6-4) pitched through 7.0 innings for the third time this season and the 2015 Carolina League Mid-Season All-Star allowed just two runs (one earned run) on six hits and one walk while tying his season-high in strikeouts (seven) en route to the Potomac staff ace’s sixth win.
Lynchburg RHP Dace Kime surrendered two earned runs on four base knocks in 5.1 frames while walking three, plunking one batter, and fanning five in the no-decision.
Kime hit the first batter of the game, Potomac CF Narciso Mesa, on the opening pitch of the contest. Mesa stole second base and came around on an RBI single grounded into center field by Nationals LF Isaac Ballou.
The Hillcats answered with two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the last of the 1st inning as 1B Nellie Rodriguez lifted an RBI sacrifice fly and C Eric Haase cranked an RBI double to the left field wall.
The Nationals tied the affair at 2-2 in the 3rd on an RBI single lined by SS Stephen Perez into center field that chased home the triple of 3B Khayyan Norfork.
Neither club scored in Act Two (innings four through six) before Potomac pushed across a pair of runs in the 7th stanza on a two-run single lashed into right-center field by Perez to take a 4-2 advantage off the eventual losing pitcher, RHP Justin Brantley (1-2), who suffered his second loss of the current campaign.
Brantley served up two earned runs on two hits in 1.2 innings with one walk and two K’s attached to his line.
Potomac RHP Derek Self sidestepped a walk issued to Nellie Rodriguez to hang a zero in the 8th and Self was the bridge set-up man to get to Nationals closer, LHP Nick Lee (7 SV), who gutted out his seventh save in eight save opportunities.
The combination of Lynchburg RHP Casey Weathers and RHP Ben Heller pitched 2.0 scoreless innings to get the home club up for their last licks in the 9th.
Lee started off the bottom of the 9th by issuing back-to-back walks to Haase and LF Mike Papi before Hillcats 2B Joe Sever ripped a single through the deep hole at shortstop to loaded the bases with no outs. Lee then induced Lynchburg SS Ivan Castillo into a 4-6-3 double play which scored Haase to yield a skinny 4-3 Potomac lead. Papi, the contest-tying run was then 90 feet away with one of the most dangerous hitters in the CL, Luigi Rodriguez coming to the plate.
Rodriguez then stroked the ball up the middle on the ground and Sanchez, a four-time Potomac National, flashed his defensive wizardry to rush the ball to1B Jimmy Yezzo just ahead of the incoming Rodriguez to tie the ribbon on the P-Nats’ victory.
Potomac is now (12-10) in one-run games in 2015 and the team is still alive in the 2015 First-Half Northern Division Championship race trailing the first place, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City Royals) by 5.0 games with five clashes left in the first half. The Nationals’ elimination number will remain at one the rest of the way before the 2015 Carolina League All-Star Break.
The P-Nats look for their second series sweep of 2015 with a win over the Lynchburg Hillcats (Cleveland Indians) tomorrow evening (Wednesday) in series Game Three set for 6:30pm at Lynchburg City Stadium.
Recently announced number one overall prospect in all of Minor League Baseball per MLBPipeline.com, Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito (2-4, 4.08) will hurl against Hillcats RHP Michael Peoples (4-3, 6.27) in the series finale and last road game of the first half.
The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network will carry live coverage of the game beginning with the “P-Nats Lead-Off Show” at 6:15pm before the live play-by-play at 6:30pm. P-Nats Gameday Audio on the Potomac Nationals Baseball Network is accessible at www.potomacnationals.com or with the TuneIn Radio App.