Potomac Nationals edge Winston-Salem Dash, 4-3
The Potomac Nationals (15-9, 8-5) edged the Winston-Salem Dash (9-16, 4-9) in Game Two on Friday evening at BB&T Ballpark marking just the fourth time the Nationals have claimed a victory at Winston-Salem’s confines since the beginning of the 2012 season.
Despite stranding 14 men on base in the contest, Potomac rallied with individual runs in the 7th and 8th innings to cover the Dash and even the four-game set at one win a piece.
Nationals RHP Ronald Pena did not factor into the decision after dealing 5.0 innings and allowing three earned runs, including a home run, on nine hits while walking two.
Winston-Salem struck first with one run off Pena to take an early 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning courtesy of an RBI single blooped over the head of SS Stephen Perez by 3B Nick Basto to score C Michael Marjama who singled on a ball that ricocheted off the third base bag leading off the frame.
On a two-run titanic home run blast to the base of the right field light pole in the 3rd off the stick of 1B Keon Barnum, the Dash owned a 3-0 lead. The deep fly was Barnum’s first dinger of the 2014 campaign.
The Nationals broke through in the 5th inning against RHP Braulio Ortiz, who like Pena, did not receive a decision. The P-Nats brought eight men to the plate and terrorized Ortiz with patience. 2B Khayaan Norfork drew a leadoff walk before Perez also was given a free pass. 3B Oscar Tejeda then sprayed a single through the four hole and Potomac Manager Tripp Keisterwisely held the lead runner in Norfork at third base keeping in mind the three-run deficit. After RF Brandon Miller struck out looking, 1B Shawn Pleffner worked a bases loaded RBI base-on-balls to yield a 3-1 score. Against RHP Kyle Hansen, 2B Adrian Sanchez struck out swinging before LF Justin Miller waited out the second RBI walk of the inning to make it a 3-2 game.
Hansen went 1.2 scoreless innings and allowed one hit and two walks.
Tejeda had a big night at the plate going 3-for-4 with one run scored, a double, and one walk.
Ortiz struck out four batters in 4.1 innings and gave up two earned runs on five hits and five walks.
Nationals RHP Travis Henke hung a zero in the 6th stanza in advance of LHP Matthew Spann (1-0) taking the mound for his Carolina League debut in the 7th.
The Nationals plated one run in the 7th off the losing pitcher, RHP Zach Isler (BS 2) (0-2), who blew his second save of the season, to tie the game at 3-3. Severino RBI “Baltimore Chop” off home plate from C Pedro Severino that scored Sanchez who socked a one-out single into center field to get aboard.
Spann was terrific en route to his first win of his P-Nats debut. The southpaw worked out of a jam in the 7th, a one on, one out jam with a strike’em out, throw’em out double play as Barnum hacked through strike three and 2B Joey DeMichele, who singled, was caught stealing at second base on a bullet from Severino.
The Nationals captured a 4-3 advantage when a flurry of action took place all with two outs. Tejeda ripped a ground rule double into the right field corner that hopped off the warning track and over the barrier. Tejeda stole third base during the walk issued to Brandon Miller to put men on the corners. On the first pitch from LHP Sean Bierman, Pleffner drilled the baseball into center field on the ground to bring Tejeda to the dish.
Spann had a wild finish to the bottom of the 8th inning as SS Michael Johnson drew a two-out walk before Basto chopped a Spann offering high over the head of Pleffner that went up the right field line into the skinny foul ground. Dash Manager, Tommy Thompson boldly waved home Johnson who tried to score from first base and Brandon Miller gunned the ball to the cutoff man Sanchez who then made a lazer beam throw on the line to Severino who tagged the helmet of the sliding Johnson to preserve the 4-3 Nationals’ lead.
After RHP Brandon Hardin held the P-Nats scoreless in the top of the 9th, RHP Robert Benincasa (SV 6) entered in the home half gunning for his sixth save of the season in seven opportunities.
Benincasa solved DH Justin Jirschele on a groundout to Perez at shortstop before LF Adam Heisler served a single into center field. CF Jacob May popped out to Tejeda at third base to create the second out. Then, DeMichele flew out to left field for the final out of the game. A ball high into the North Carolina night was caught by LF Will Piwnica-Worms who replaced Justin Miller as a pinch runner in the top half of the frame.
The Nationals are now (2-2) versus the Dash in 2014.
In the third confrontation of this series in North Carolina, the Nationals will cart LHP Brett Mooneyham (2-1, 3.32) to the mound to face Dash RHP J.D. Wendelken (3-1, 3.81).
The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network, which is accessible at www.potomacnationals.com, will broadcast Game Three on Saturday night beginning with the P-Nats Leadoff Show at 6:45pm before the live play-by-play at 7:00pm.