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P-Nats sweep doubleheader in Salem

Potomac NationalsWith a doubleheader sweep on Monday night, the Potomac Nationals (33-27) dropped their magic number to clinch the Northern Division to four. A seven-run fifth inning highlighted a 9-4 victory in game one over the Salem Red Sox (28-33), while a four-run fifth inning sparked a 4-0 shutout in game two. The P-Nats held Salem to just six total hits in the twin-bill.

In game one, both sides struck for a run in the first inning, as a sacrifice fly from 3B Jake Noll made it 1-0 Potomac, while the Red Sox tied the game on 3B Bobby Dalbec’s sacrifice fly. The score stayed at 1-1 until the fifth inning.

Potomac sent 13 men to the plate in the top of the fifth inning against the combination of RHP Jake Thompson (L, 3-4), RHP Joan Martinez, and RHP Jared Oliver. Each Salem pitcher recorded one out in the inning. After LF Jack Sundberg struck out to begin the frame, seven straight hitters reached base, and all seven scored. DH Alec Keller put the P-Nats on top 2-1 with an RBI single, while Noll followed with an RBI base hit, which knocked Thompson out of the game. After Martinez hit 1B Ian Sagdal with a pitch, C Jakson Reetz made it 5-1 with a two-run single. One batter later, RF Rhett Wiseman blasted his 12th home run of the season. Wiseman’s three-run home run made it 8-1 Potomac.

The Red Sox responded with two runs off of LHP Matthew Crownover (ND) in the bottom of the fifth inning, as the left-handed starter came one out from a victory. Out of the bullpen, RHP Jeremy McKinney (W, 1-2) did not allow a hit over 2.1 innings. Potomac plated a run on a Wiseman RBI groundout in the sixth frame, while the Red Sox wrapped up the scoring at 9-4 on a run-scoring wild pitch in the seventh inning.

In the back half of the doubleheader, LHP Ben Braymer (W, 2-1) tossed six-shutout innings for Potomac, while RHP James Bourque worked a perfect final frame. Braymer struck out six and allowed only two hits in his first start of the season.

All of the Potomac offense in game two came in one inning against LHP Jhonathan Diaz (L, 0-1). SS Carter Kieboom led off the inning with a towering home run to right field, which proved to be the game-winning hit. Consecutive singles from Keller and Noll followed, while a sacrifice fly from Sagdal made it 2-0, and knocked Diaz out of the game. RHP Algenis Martinez entered and immediately plated a run with a wild pitch, while two batters later, LF Edwin Lora concluded the scoring with a sacrifice fly.

Off of the doubleheader sweep, the P-Nats can pull potentially within one win of a playoff spot if they can take the middle game of the five-game series. On Tuesday night, RHP Sterling Sharp (3-2, 3.65) is set to start for Potomac. The All-Star will look to pick up his first win since May 8th. For the Red Sox, 19-year-old RHP Bryan Mata (3-2, 3.73) will look to snap Salem’s four-game losing streak. In his lone start against Potomac, Mata failed to make it through two innings.

First pitch at Haley Toyota Field on Tuesday 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 or on the TuneIn Radio App.