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Schrock plays hero, Potomac walks off with 4-3 win

p-natsDespite only four hits, the Potomac Nationals (43-37, 9-3) picked up a 4-3 victory Wednesday night over the Wilmington Blue Rocks (32-51, 5-9). Potomac 2B Max Schrock hit a walk-off solo home run in the 10th inning, his second walk-off hit for the P-Nats in a span of eight days. The Blue Rocks outhit Potomac 12-4 and the P-Nats went 0-10 with RISP, yet Potomac tallied its league best ninth win in the second half.

In his fifth start with the P-Nats, RHP Austen Williams (ND) provided his fourth quality start yet remained winless. Williams allowed just one run on seven hits over six innings, but saw his team’s offense and bullpen both struggle. Wilmington LF Brandon Downes homered off of Williams in the second inning, but despite only one 1-2-3 inning in the start, Williams did not allow another run.

Down 1-0 after two innings, Potomac tied the game without the benefit of a hit in the third frame against Wilmington RHP Josh Staumont (ND). The righty, who allowed just two hits on the night and matched a season high in innings at seven, hit 3B Khayyan Norfork with one out in the inning. After Norfork stole second base,CF Victor Robles hit a sharp ground ball to 2B Austin Bailey. The Wilmington infielder failed to field Robles’ grounder, as the ball ended up in right field, which allowed Norfork to score the tying run from second base.

In the fourth inning with the game still tied at one, another defensive blunder by the Wilmington defense led to Potomac’s scoring. After 1B Jose Marmolejos singled and LF Alec Keller walked, RF Drew Vettlesonappeared to fall behind in the count 0-2 on a foul ball. Home plate umpire Tyler Olson ruled catcher’s interference, which turned a potential 0-2 count into a bases loaded with no outs situation for Staumont. Though he did not give up another hit in the inning, Staumont surrendered back-to-back RBI groundouts to DH Bryan Mejia and C Matt Reistetter, as Potomac scored two runs on one hit in the fourth inning and led 3-1.

After Williams escaped with the tying runners on base in the sixth, Potomac went to RHP Trey Lambert to start the seventh inning. Lambert retired Bailey to begin the frame, but CF Cody Jones reached on a bunt single and SS Brian Bien tallied his third single of the night. Jones and Bien pulled off a successful double steal, which put the tying runners at second and third base with only one out. DH Alfredo Escalera cut the deficit to one run with an RBI groundout, while 1B Samir Duenez plated Bien with a two-out game-tying single.

Lambert’s night ended with one out in the eighth inning after RF Elier Hernandez singled and put the go-ahead run on base. LHP RC Orlan (W, 5-2) entered and picked up two quick outs, which closed the book on Lambert. Tied at three entering the ninth inning, the Blue Rocks threated against Orlan in the top of the inning. Bien picked up a one-out single, but Orlan picked him off of first base. Orlan then walked both Escalera and Duenez with two outs, but got 3B Wander Franco to ground out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Potomac got the leadoff man aboard, as LHP Jake Kalish hit Keller with a pitch. Following a sacrifice bunt by Vettleson, Mejia drew a walk. Kalish induced a ground ball out from Reistetter before RHP Derek Gordon (L, 2-1) entered and struck out Norfork, as the P-Nats left the winning run at third base.

Back to the mound for the 10th inning, Orlan issued a leadoff walk to Downes but retired the next three. The lefty had his second longest outing of the season, as Orlan pitched 2.2 innings of shutout relief. In the bottom of the 10th, Gordon got the leadoff hitting Robles to fly out to left field, but surrendered a one-out walk-off home run to Schrock. It was the Potomac second baseman’s second walk-off hit in less than two weeks, and third game-winning hit in the same span. Schrock has a hit in all nine games he has played for Potomac and at least two hits in seven of those nine starts.

With an opportunity at the series victory, the P-Nats will send RHP Mark Blackmar (Debut) to the mound. The Washington Nationals signed Blackmar from the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks less than a week ago. With the Ducks, Blackmar went 6-2 with a 2.72 ERA in 13 starts. Aiming to earn a series split, the Blue Rocks turn to LHP Foster Griffin (1-4, 5.98). Griffin, who was promoted in mid-May to Wilmington, enters off of a quality start, as he allowed three earned runs over six innings in a no-decision against Winston-Salem on July 2nd. First pitch of the series finale Thursday night is at 7:05pm.