P-Nats swept in doubleheader by Wilmington
Continuing with one of the best pitching staffs in the Carolina League, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (53-32, 9-7) allowed just two earned runs as a staff in a doubleheader sweep of the Potomac Nationals (36-47, 6-10). The Blue Rocks picked up a 6-2 win behind six strong innings from RHP Jonathan Bowlan (W, 3-0) in game one and a 2-1 win behind five-scoreless frames from LHP Austin Cox (W, 1-1) in game two.
In the first half of the doubleheader, LHP Carson Teel (L, 3-2) worked a quick first frame for Potomac but ran into trouble in each of his next two innings. C Sebastian Rivero gave the Blue Rocks a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly in the second inning, while LF Brewer Hicklen just barely cleared the wall in right field for a two-run home run in the third frame. Wilmington led 3-0 after 2.5 innings.
The score remained 3-0 Wilmington until the fifth inning, when both teams struck for a run. Hicklen gave the Blue Rocks a 4-0 lead with an RBI triple, while Potomac countered with a double from CF Gage Canning. Canning eventually scored on a wild pitch from Bowlan. An inning later, each side scored once more, as a run-scoring throwing error by 3B Omar Meregildo gave the Blue Rocks a 5-1 lead, but the Potomac third baseman responded with a leadoff home run in the home half of the inning. The Blue Rocks led 5-2 after six innings and tallied an insurance run in the final frame against RHP Jorge Pantoja.
Game two of the twin bill started much like the opener, as neither side mustered a run in the opening inning before the Blue Rocks scored in the second frame. The first three hitters that RHP Luis Reyes (L, 1-5) faced in the second inning each tallied a hit, as C MJ Melendez made it 1-0 with an RBI double, while 1B Nick Pratto followed with an RBI single. Wilmington led 2-0 after 1.5 innings as Pratto’s RBI single proved to be the difference in the game.
The P-Nats had a minor threat in the first inning against Cox, as they put two men on with only one out but failed to capitalize. Potomac then didn’t have a man get into scoring position until 2B Bryan Mejia doubled with two outs in the fifth frame.
After four innings from Reyes, LHP Hayden Howard spun three-shutout frames for Potomac, while RHP Tad Ratliff (SV, 17) worked an easy sixth inning for the Blue Rocks before his defense failed him and then saved him in the seventh inning.
Down 2-0 after 6.5 innings, SS Gilbert Lara led off the final frame for Potomac with a ground ball to 3B Dennicher Carrasco, who hopped the throw into the first base stands. With Lara at second base, RF Telmito Agustin hit a slow roller to Carrasco, who once more made a poor throw to first. While his throw stayed in the field of play, it got passed Pratto and allowed Lara to score. Off two straight throwing errors, Potomac trailed by just one and had the tying run at first base with no outs. A sacrifice bunt from 3B Osvaldo Abreu pushed Agustin to second base and brought Mejia to the plate as the potential winning run. Mejia launched a fly ball deep into the right-centerfield alley but saw former Potomac CF Blake Perkins make a Superman type grab, which robbed Mejia of the game-tying hit. By the time Perkins had made the catch, Agustin had already come towards the plate, and thus he was easily doubled off at second base, which ended the game and gave the Blue Rocks the 2-1 victory.
Saturday night will be the final matchup of the regular season between these two squads at Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium, though the teams are scheduled to play six more games at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, DE. Saturday night, RHP Malvin Pena (4-4, 5.85) is scheduled to start for Potomac in an attempt to avoid a series sweep. Last time out, Pena allowed just one run on four hits over six innings in a no-decision to the Carolina Mudcats. For the Blue Rocks, LHP Rito Lugo (2-2, 2.32) is set to make his seventh start and 20th appearance of the season. Lugo picked up the win in his last outing, a five-inning start on 6/29 against the Frederick Keys, as he allowed just one unearned run on two hits over five innings.
First pitch at Northwest Federal Field at Pfitzner Stadium on Saturday night is set for 6:35pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:20pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.