Wilmington blanks Potomac Nationals, 2-0
The Potomac Nationals (75-57, 37-26) were shut out for the second straight night at Frawley Stadium on Friday evening as the Wilmington Blue Rocks (64-69, 31-34) earned a 2-0 victory in the Game Five series finale.
The P-Nats mustered just four base hits including a true singles from CF Cody Dent and RF Estarlin Martinez, a bunt single off the stick of 3B Khayyan Norfork, and a double ripped by SS Stephen Perez.
This Nationals defeat marked the eighth time in 2014 that Potomac was blanked.
Friday night’s loss also marked the first time all season that the red, white, and blue were shutout in back-to-back games after the P-Nats dropped series Game Four on Thursday by the final score of 8-0.
Winning pitcher, Blue Rocks LHP Sean Manaea (7-8) was sparkling en route to win number seven through 7.0 scoreless innings in which the dominant southpaw allowed just three singles and unleashed one pitch that hit a batter. Manaea fanned a season-high 12 men without walking a single batter. Manaea slung 98 pitches and 70 offerings were in the strike zone. The prospect lefty induced six groundouts and two flyouts.
A pitcher’s duel lasted throughout the contest, and in the first five frames neither club pushed across a run. Nationals Ian Dickson (5-9) was brilliant as the righty put 6.2 innings under his belt before his departure from the mound. Dickson struck out seven, gave up five base knocks, walked none, and allowed one wild pitch.
Dickson extended his scoreless innings streak to 19.0 innings in the tough luck loss, his ninth of the campaign.
The first run of the game for Wilmington scored in the 7th frame after a leadoff triple was swept just fair along the third base line by 2B Jack Lopez, who scored on an high-bouncing RBI fielder’s choice chopper to Potomac 2B Tony Renda off the bat of SS Raul Mondesi. It appeared Renda had Lopez caught well off the third base bag when he checked on the runner in scoring position but then opted to throw to first base. When Renda unleashed the ball, Lopez broke for the plate and laid out headfirst to come into the dish safe as the throw from 1B John Wooten sailed to the backstop. A perfect throw from Wooten would still have made it a “bang-bang” play at home plate.
Blue Rocks 3B Jared Schlehuber provided insurance in the 8th inning with a solo home run off Nationals LHP Bryan Harper rocketed into the P-Nats’ bullpen that landed in the left field corner next to the foul pole. This blast was Schlehuber’s sixth longball of the 2014 season.
Harper got the final out of the 7th with a swinging strikeout of LF Cody Stubbs before allowing the bomb an inning later.
Wilmington LHP Kyle Bartsch (SV 7) inked his seventh save by dealing 2.0 scoreless innings out of the bullpen in which he surrendered just the two-bagger to Perez in the 9th that was whipped off the glove of Schlehuber at the hot corner. To end the game, Bartsch got 2B Tony Renda on a 6-3 groundout, Wooten on a flyout to center field, and LF Randolph Oduber on his 13th strikeout of the series swinging.
Renda ended a 16-game on-base streak after taking an 0-for-4 at the plate.
The Nationals will drive tonight to Frederick, MD to prepare for a four-game series against the Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles) that will conclude the 2014 Carolina League regular season.