P-Nats sweep doubleheader: 1.5 games back in division
The Potomac Nationals (22-19, 52-56) completed a crucial series sweep over the first-place Salem Red Sox (23-17, 48-59) on Thursday afternoon, with wins in both ends of a doubleheader. With the doubleheader sweep and series sweep, the P-Nats sit just 1.5 games back of Salem for the Northern Division lead.
In game one, Salem jumped out to an early lead against RHP Ryan Tapani (ND). 3B Michael Osinski gave the Red Sox the lead with an RBI single in the fourth inning, while SS Ryan Fitzgerald made it 2-0 Salem with a fifth-inning RBI triple.
Potomac answered against RHP Daniel Gonzalez (ND) in the fifth inning. After the P-Nats failed to put a runner on base over the first four frames, Potomac sent eight men to the plate against the Salem pitching staff in the fifth inning. 2B Kyle Marinconz tallied his first Carolina League hit, an RBI single in the inning, while LF Jack Sundberg tied the game 3-3 with a two-out run-scoring hit.
After 4.1 frames from Tapani, RHP Luis Reyes and LHP Hayden Howard (W, 3-2) spun scoreless relief outings, which sent the game to the home half of the seventh inning tied 3-3. SS Gilbert Lara began the final-inning rally with a one-out double off of RHP Joan Martinez (L, 3-4), while a single from Sundberg put the winning run at third base with one out. CF Gage Canning failed to hit a fly ball to right field deep enough to score the runner from third base. After Sundberg stole second base, DH Aldrem Corredor drew an intentional walk, which set things up for C Jakson Reetz. Ahead in the count 3-1, Reetz fouled off a pitch, which ran the count full, before the Potomac catcher nearly got hit by ball four. The walk forced Lara in from third base and gave Potomac the 4-3 “walk-off” win.
With a chance to sweep the series, the P-Nats got out to an early start against LHP Enmanuel De Jesus (L, 6-8) in game two. RF Telmito Agustin gave Potomac the early advantage with an RBI double in the second inning.
The Red Sox quickly answered against LHP Nick Raquet (W, 8-8) with two runs in the third frame. RF Edgar Corcino turned Salem’s one-run deficit into a one-run lead with a two-run double, though that was the final time that the Red Sox plated a man against Raquet. The Potomac starter spun a complete game, as Raquet allowed just five hits and struck out six over seven innings.
Potomac took advantage of an error in the fourth frame, as the surging club took the lead for good. With two runners aboard and two outs, Fitzgerald made a poor throw to first base on a ground ball from Sundberg. The error plated a run, while Canning followed with a two-run single. The P-Nats added two runs an inning later, which made it 6-2, the eventual final.
Now within imminent striking distance of the division lead, the P-Nats will make the short trip to Wilmington, DE, where they will begin a three-game series against the Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City). The series opens on Friday night in what could be a preview of the Northern Division Championship Series.
First pitch at Frawley Stadium on Friday night is set for 7:05pm. 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.