P-Nats split two with Wilmington
A day after offense was the name of the game in a doubleheader split, the Potomac Nationals (73-62, 36-32) and Wilmington Blue Rocks (68-71, 37-32) played a pair of one-run matchups. In the opener, Potomac won 1-0 behind a complete game shutout from LHP Nick Raquet (W, 5-3), while the Blue Rocks used a two-run fourth inning in a 3-2 win in game two.
In the game one victory, Raquet faced just one batter over the minimum in his longest start of the season with Potomac. The left-handed starter walked SS Gabriel Cancel in the second inning, but followed it with a double play groundout. C Nate Esposito reached on an infield single in the third inning, but Raquet induced another double play. CF Blake Perkins doubled to lead off the fourth inning, but was stranded at third base, while 2B D.J. Burt walked in the seventh inning, but got picked off by Raquet. The Blue Rocks had just one man reach scoring position in the loss.
Making his 10th start of the season for Wilmington, RHP Andres Sotillet (L, 2-6) spun his best start of the season, yet ended as a tough-luck losing pitcher. Sotillet allowed just four hits and one run over his complete game effort. After three scoreless frames, the right-handed starter walked 2B Andruw Monasterio to begin the fourth inning. The Potomac infielder stole second base and later took third base on a wild pitch. With two outs, DH Telmito Agustin hit a slow ground ball single up the middle, which plated Monasterio. Agustin’s hit was the only hit with a man in scoring position for either team in the game and made it 1-0 Potomac, the eventual final.
Once given the lead, Raquet cruised through his final three innings. The left-handed starter retired 10 straight after Perkins’ leadoff double in the fourth before he walked Burt with one out in the seventh. Burt, who leads the Carolina League in stolen bases, got picked off at first base, while Cancel struck out, which closed out Potomac’s 1-0 win.
In the back half of the doubleheader, the Blue Rocks struck first for the first time in the four games of the series thus far. In his first start of the season, and 13th appearance overall for Potomac in 2018, RHP Carlos Acevedo (L, 1-3) quickly got through two innings, but a two-out walk in the third came back to bite him. CF Rudy Martin drew the walk, stole second base, and scored on a two-out RBI single from RF Vance Vizcaino. Wilmington led 1-0 after three innings.
The P-Nats tied the game up immediately, as they tagged LHP Josh Dye (W, 1-0) for a run in the fourth inning. 1B Ian Sagdal doubled with one out, and then scored on a two-out RBI single from Monasterio. Dye allowed just one run on three hits in his Carolina League debut.
Just as soon as Potomac had tied the game, the Blue Rocks took the lead for good with a two-run bottom of the fourth. C Chase Vallot connected with a one-out solo home run to left field, while 1B Travis Jones followed with a single. A wild pitch from Acevedo allowed Jones to go from first to third, and 2B Oliver Nunez followed with a sacrifice fly, which proved to be the difference in the game. Nunez’s RBI made it 3-1 Wilmington.
Potomac pulled back within a run against RHP Julio Pinto in the sixth inning. Sagdal led off with a double, his second double of the game and third of the doubleheader. Pinto then retired the next two men that he faced, but 3B David Masters made it a one-run game with a bloop RBI single to right field. Pinto followed with a strikeout of CF Nick Banks, as the P-Nats left the tying run at first base. RHP Bryan Brickhouse (SV, 14) came on for the final frame for the Blue Rocks and worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning, as Wilmington won 3-2 and earned a doubleheader split.
The series finale on Monday afternoon is the rubber match of the series and the final regular season game of the 2018 season for both teams. RHP A.J. Bogucki (3-2, 1.01) is set to make his first start of the season for Potomac. In 15 relief outings for the P-Nats, Bogucki has 29 strikeouts and has held hitters to a batting average of just .224. For the Blue Rocks, RHP Ofreidy Gomez (6-10, 3.52) will try to end the Blue Rocks’ season on a high note with a victory. Gomez has won each of his last two starts, and has allowed just two runs over 13.0 innings in those two starts. Potomac will begin the Northern Division Championship Series at the home of the Lynchburg Hillcats on Wednesday night.
First pitch at Frawley Stadium on Monday is set for 12:05pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 11:50am 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.