P-Nats rally late, blitz Salem

Potomac used a five-run sixth and a three-run seventh to transform a tight 2-2 ballgame into a laugher in Thursday’s series opener at Pfitzner Stadium.

The Nationals prevailed 10-4 despite being outhit 11-10 by the Sox, who missed numerous opportunities early in the game and stranded 11 baserunners on the night. Salem first-baseman Travis Shaw led all hitters with four hits and three RBI, bringing his early-season average to .420 (21-for-50).

Salem starter Miguel Celestino proved his consistent performance thus far in 2012 was no fluke, surrendering two runs over five innings for the third straight start. But Potomac starter Bobby Hansen matched Celestino’s performance, permitting just two runs during his five-inning stint.

After both starters exited, the battle of the bullpens went the Nationals’ way, with Salem’s Jeremiah Bayer having the roughest night. Bayer, typically a very reliable righty, faced 13 batters over an inning and a third and only recorded four outs, giving up eight runs on seven hits. Francisco Soriano smashed a bases-loaded triple down the right-field line for the loudest moment of the ugly five-run sixth inning that broke the 2-2 stalemate.

An inning later, four of the first five batters reached against Bayer, chasing him from the action in favor of Ruben Flores. Although an inherited runner scored, Flores held the Nationals offense at bay over the final inning and two-thirds.

Wade Moore led Potomac with three hits and two RBI, while Soriano drove in three and Blake Kelso picked up two RBI. Overall, the Nationals went 7-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

Shaw drove in three out of Salem’s four runs, picking up one RBI with a two-out single in the third and two more in the top of the ninth with a two-out double. Jackie Bradley, Jr., playing on his 22nd birthday, finished 2-for-4 with two doubles and one RBI. Xander Bogaerts added two hits, including a double, for the Sox, who slipped to 6-7 on the season.

Salem and Potomac will square off in the second game of their four-game series on Friday night. Righthander Brandon Workman, a second round pick in the 2010 draft, will make his Carolina League debut for the Sox against Nationals’ righthander Adam Olbrychowski, with the first pitch slated for 7:05.


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