P-Nats take down Salem in finale

A single swing produced three runs and proved to be the difference in Thursday’s series finale, with Kevin Keyes’ three-run blast in the second inning catapulting Potomac to a 5-2 victory over Salem at LewisGale Field.

Matt Swynenberg tossed five solid innings for Potomac and the Nationals bullpen dominated Salem over the final four innings to salvage the final game of the series and prevent a Red Sox sweep. Salem outhit Potomac 8-6, but the Sox left nine runners on base and their streak of seven straight wins at home came to an end.

Salem starter Ryan Pressly went six innings, but surrendered five runs on six hits, with Keyes acting as his top adversary. The Nationals left fielder slammed a first-pitch fastball for a no-doubt three-run bomb over the left-center field fence with two outs in the top of the second. Trailing 3-0, Pressly retired the next seven Nationals he faced, but he got dinged for back-to-back doubles from Justin Bloxom and Keyes in the fifth. The latter drove in the former to make it 4-0, and Keyes scored his second run three batters later on Adrian Sanchez’ RBI single. At the midway point, the Nats were on top 5-zip.

In the last of the fifth, Salem finally deciphered Swynenberg in a two-run rally. Shannon Wilkerson led off with a single and gave way to Jackie Bradley, Jr., who reached on a 6-4 fielder’s choice. Sean Coyle hammered an RBI double into the gap in left-center to put Salem on the board, while Brandon Jacobs singled home Coyle two batters later to make it 5-2.

Salem’s best threat in the late innings occurred with two outs in the seventh. After Rob Wort struck out Bradley and Coyle, Travis Shaw walked and Jacobs singled to bring the tying run to the plate. But Wort completed his impressive K-campaign, punching out Xander Bogaerts to strand the pair of runners. Wort struck out five in two innings, and Cameron Selik retired the final six Sox of the game in succession to close it out and earn his fourth save.

With his single in the first inning, Bradley extended his consecutive games on base streak to 24, the longest in the league this year. In each of his last eight games, Bradley has reached safely in the first inning with either a hit or  a walk. Jacobs led Salem with two hits and a walk in four plate appearances on Thursday.

The Red Sox head to Myrtle Beach for a three game series against the Pelicans over the weekend. Boston’s first round pick Matt Barnes, who currently leads all of minor league baseball with 54 strikeouts, will be take the mound in Friday’s opener. Myrtle will counter with former Boston farmhand Roman Mendez, and the first pitch is scheduled for 7:05.


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