Potomac Nationals sweep Keys, eliminate Frederick from wild-card race
The Potomac Nationals (77-58, 39-27) swept the Frederick Keys (65-71, 33-36) at Harry Grove Stadium in a Sunday doubleheader by the final scores of 6-5 and 5-4. The P-Nats eliminated the Keys from the Northern Division wild card race with their twin bill nightcap victory on the penultimate day of the 2014 Carolina League regular season.
After the Lynchburg Hillcats (Atlanta Braves) defeated the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers)
2-1 on Sunday, Frederick had to win Game Two of their doubleheader with Potomac to stay in the wild card hunt.
The Nationals improved to (32-13) in their one-run games on the 2014 ledger with the pair of close wins.
In Game One, Washington Nationals RHP Ross Ohlendorf made his second rehabilitation start with Potomac in 2014. In his second outing at Harry Grove Stadium this season, Ohlendorf dealt 3.0 scoreless innings in which he allowed just two base hits and one walk while fanning a pair.
The red, white, and blue jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the 1st inning against Frederick LHP Matt Taylor, who left the game due to injury. Taylor did not induce an out and allowed four earned runs on two hits and a trio of walks before exiting the mound. P-Nats 3B John Wooten ripped a two-run, bases loaded single into right-center field, DH Khayyan Norfork laid down an RBI bunt single, and C Pedro Severino raked a broken-bat, RBI 5-3 groundout.
The P-Nats tacked on an additional run in the 3rd frame when 3B Cody Dent dropped down an RBI sacrifice squeeze bunt against Keys RHP Brady Wager, who went 4.0 innings and allowed one unearned run on four hits and a quartet of walks while striking out five.
Against Potomac RHP Pedro Encarnacion, Frederick scored five total runs between a four-run 4th and a one-run 5th. In the 4th, Keys LF Tucker Nathans served an RBI single off the end of his bat, 2B Jerome Pena cranked a two-run triple to the right-center field alleyway, and DH Joel Hutter rapped an RBI 6-3 groundout. An inning later, 3B Jason Esposito shot a run-scoring triple to the right-center field gap to tie the contest at 5-5.
Potomac pulled ahead ironically on a double-play ball off the lumber of RF Estarlin Martinez in the 6th inning that scored the leadoff walk issued to Norfork by the losing pitcher, RHP Dylan Rheault (0-3).
Rheault pitched 3.0 innings and allowed one earned run three hits and two walks.
P-Nats winning pitcher, as ruled by the official scorer, LHP Bryan Harper (2-0), got the final out of the 5th via a flyout from Nathans and then worked two outs in the 6th before RHP Gilberto Mendez (15 SV) fanned SS Adrian Marin to wrap the inning.
In the 7th, Mendez stranded a walk issued to Esposito and an infield single by Nathans when Wynns skied out to the warning track to secure the front-end of the twin bill as a victory.
In the nightcap, Nationals RHP Dakota Bacus (7-6) gunned through 5.0 innings and surrendered four earned runs on seven hits en route to his seventh win which put him above .500 on the season with regards to his win/loss record. Bacus walked none, struck out one, and allowed one home run.
The P-Nats plated three runs in the 2nd inning as Martinez blasted a two-run triple to right-center and then scored himself on a wild pitch from the losing pitcher of record, LHP Mitch Horacek (0-1).
Horacek, in his Carolina League debut, served up five earned runs on seven hits in 6.0 innings of work. Horacek, who led the South Atlantic League in strikeouts before his promotion, fanned three and walked three.
In the home half of the 2nd, the Keys got on the scoreboard thanks to a moon shot off the top of the third tier of signage in left-center by Esposito, his ninth home run of the season.
In the 3rd, the Nationals took a 5-1 lead when Wooten drilled a two-run, three-bagger into right-center. The Keys answered with three runs in the bottom of the 3rd on an RBI single by 1B Trey Mancini that ricocheted off the glove of SS Tony Renda before Esposito clobbered an RBI double to the left field wall and Nathans knocked a 6-3 RBI groundout.
P-Nats RHP Manny Rodriguez (SV 1) converted a save in his first-ever Carolina League contest. Rodriguez turned in 2.0 scoreless innings after dealing a perfect 6th and leaving a walk handed out to Keys CF Johnny Ruettiger on base when Mancini chopped a game-ending fielder’s choice grounder to Renda at shortstop. Ruettiger was cut down at second base to wrap the doubleheader broom job.
The P-Nats are slated to send LHP Matthew Spann (9-5, 3.92) to the mound in the 2014 regular season finale tomorrow at Harry Grove Stadium to deal against Frederick LHP Steven Brault (2-0, 0.69). The Labor Day Monday set finale standoff will begin at 2:00pm inside the confines of Harry Grove Stadium. The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network, accessible by heading online to www.potomacnationals.com, will provide live broadcast coverage of the final regular season game of the 2014 campaign on Labor Day in Frederick, MD beginning with the P-Nats Leadoff Show at 1:45pm before the play-by-play at 2:00pm.