P-Nats survive late scare in 6-5 win over Lynchburg
After two explosive innings for both sides to start the game, the Potomac Nationals (16-22, 49-59) escaped the rubber match against the Lynchburg Hillcats (23-17, 63-46) with a 6-5 win. The teams scored 10 runs over the first two innings, while neither side scored after the top of the fourth inning. The Hillcats left the game-tying run on second base and the potential go-ahead run on first base in the ninth inning.
Neither RHP Nolan Sanburn (ND) nor RHP Triston McKenzie (L, 9-6) posted good outings early in the game. The Hillcats scored three runs in the first inning and a single run in the second frame, while Potomac plated two runs in the first inning and took the lead with four runs in the home half of the second.
For the second straight game, Lynchburg rattled off three runs before the P-Nats stepped up to the plate. 2B Sam Haggerty led off the game with a double, while SS Willi Castro put men on the corners with a single. After Sanburn walked LF Andrew Calica, 1B Sicnarf Loopstok got hit by a pitch, which brought home a run and made it 1-0. RF Connor Marabell made it 2-0 on a sacrifice fly, while the final run of the frame scored on an attempted double steal.
Potomac immediately answered with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the first. DH Michael A. Taylorbegan the inning with a single, and two batters later, 2B Austin Davidson pulled the P-Nats within one run with a two-run home run. The Hillcats ran the lead back to two runs on an RBI single by Calica in the second inning, but McKenzie scampered back into trouble in the home half of the inning.
The All-Star for the Hillcats gave up consecutive doubles to SS David Masters and RF Rhett Wiseman to begin the bottom of the second inning, which pulled the P-Nats within one run. Two batters later, the Hillcats intentionally walked Taylor. CF Daniel Johnson made Lynchburg pay for the intentional walk, as he launched a three-run home run over the right field wall. Johnson’s third home run of the season put Potomac on top 6-4.
McKenzie settled in after Johnson’s home run, as he didn’t allow another man to reach scoring position over his five-inning outing. The righty allowed six earned runs one start after the Frederick Keys tagged him for seven earned runs. Sanburn walked four and allowed four runs over two innings, though Johnson’s home run took him out of line for a loss.
The Hillcats plated the final run of the game in the fourth inning, as Marabell notched his second sacrifice fly of the matchup, which came against RHP Jorge Pantoja (W, 1-2). Pantoja allowed just one run on three hits over three innings. The Potomac bullpen allowed nly one run on six hits over seven frames.
Lynchburg’s final threat came in the top of the ninth inning against LHP Jordan Mills. The lefty, who had posted two scoreless frames, returned for the ninth. Gavin Collins pinch hit for Marabell and drew a leadoff walk. CF Ka’ai Tom followed with a single, which ended Mills’ afternoon. RHP Gilberto Mendez (SV, 10) inherited two baserunners, but held Potomac’s one-run lead. C Martin Cervenka struck out after two failed sacrifice bunt attempts, DH Daniel Salters popped out to third base on a first pitch check swing, while 3B Ivan Castillo ended the game with a groundout to first base.
The victory for Potomac was the eighth in 11 games for the club and pulled the P-Nats within five games of the Northern Division leading Salem Red Sox.
After the long homestand, the P-Nats will make their only trip of the season to Winston-Salem, NC and play four games with the Dash. First pitch Thursday night at BB&T Ballpark is set for 7:00pm. 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.
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