Potomac Nationals edge Frederick Keys in 10, 4-3
The Potomac Nationals (71-53, 33-22) edged the Frederick Keys (58-67, 26-32) in a wild, 10-inning see-saw confrontation by the final score of 4-3 on Friday evening at Pfitzner Stadium courtesy of a throwing error committed by Frederick 3B Jason Esposito.
With a victory in the series opener of the final homestand of the 2014 regular season for the Nationals, the red, white, and blue have now claimed seven consecutive triumphs which registers as a season-high winning streak.
The Nationals have improved their extra-inning record to (6-6) and won their league-best 30th one-run game.
Washington Nationals OF Steven Souza Jr. made a rehabilitation start with the P-Nats while on the mend from a left shoulder contusion. Souza Jr. went 1-for-3 with a single into center field in the affair.
P-Nats starter, LHP Matthew Spann set the tone for the home club going 6.0 scoreless innings allowing just four separated base hits (three singles and one double). Spann did not receive a decision after walking only one batter and fanning a pair.
Keys hurler, RHP Sebastian Vader was equally as effective as Spann slinging 6.0 stanzas and surrendering just one earned run on a solo home run gashed over the right-center field fence by Potomac CF Isaac Ballou in the 3rd inning.
The deep fly was Ballou’s fourth tater of the 2014 campaign and second round-tripper at home.
Vader gave up four hits and one walk while striking out four batters.
Act Two did not yield a run for either ballclub. In the top of the 7th frame, Frederick tied the contest at 1-1 off Nationals RHP Matt Swynenberg on a two-out, bloop RBI double into the right field corner off the stick of Keys C Wynston Sawyer.
P-Nats LHP Bryan Harper hung a zero in the 8th by stranding the walk he issued to SS Adrian Marin.
In the last of the 8th, P-Nats SS Stephen Perez lashed a single into left field on an offering from RHP Matt Hobgood and advanced two bases on a wild pitch. Perez scored to give the hosting team a 2-1 advantage on an additional wild pitch to the backstop through Sawyer.
Hobgood’s tough line included 3.0 innings of work in which the power righty allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits, two wild pitches, and one balk.
Potomac closer, RHP Gilberto Mendez (7-4), the eventual winning pitcher, would go onto blow his third save of the campaign. Mendez got two outs in the 9th frame on an Esposito popup in foul territory and a fielder’s choice groundball off the bat of LF Lucas Herbst. Sawyer stepped to the plate and whalloped a two-run jack way out to left field giving the Keys a 3-2 edge. This big fly was Sawyer’s fourth dinger of the season and third RBI of the game.
Mendez went from being in line for the save, to blowing the save, to being on the hook for the loss, to then being in line for the win after the Nationals tied the game in the 9th and won it in the 10th.
In the bottom of the 9th, after a booted ball by Esposito at third base and an errant throw from Hobgood on a comebacker, Ballou flew out to left field. Then an RBI single bounced into center field off Hobgood by 2B Tony Renda tied the game at 3-3. RF Brandon Miller, who replaced Souza Jr. in the 6th, grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to send the contest to extra innings.
Mendez worked through a scoreless 10th thanks to the cannon of Miller in right field. On a single by 1B Trey Mancini, CF Johnny Ruettiger was cut down at third base on an aggressive, one-hop throw. The tag was applied by 3B Khayyan Norfork to take the P-Nats to the bottom of the 10th.
In his Carolina League debut, Frederick RHP Dylan Rheault (0-1) took the loss without allowing a base hit in the 10th frame. Rheault walked 1B Shawn Pleffner, LF Randolph Oduber laid down a sacrifice bunt to get Pleffner to second base,Perez was intentionally walked,and Norfork was hit by a pitch on the lead shoulder. Then, on the fateful play for the Keys, 1B Estarlin Martinez, who pinch ran for 1B John Wooten in the 9th and scored the tying run a frame earlier, chopped a grounder along the third base line. Esposito charged the ball, gloved the seams, and his off-balanced throw towards home plate hit the back of Pleffner who was safe across the dish to give the Nationals the insta-win.
The final line for the winning pitcher, Mendez was 2.0 innings, three hits, two runs, one walk, one strikeout, and one home run allowed.