Wilmington holds off late Potomac Nationals rally, wins 5-4
Despite 15 strikeouts from the pitching staff, the Potomac Nationals (1-2) failed to come through with runners in scoring position in a 5-4 loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks (2-1) on Saturday night. The P-Nats went just 1-11 with RISP and left 13 men on base in the loss.
Potomac held the lead through the first third of the game, notwithstanding erratic pitching from RHP Joan Baez (ND). Baez worked out of a based loaded jam in the first inning, while the Potomac offense struck for a pair of runs in the home half of the frame. For the second straight night, 2B Austin Davidson drove home two runs with a two-out, first inning triple. While Baez walked in a run in the second inning and stranded the bases loaded once more, the P-Nats got the run back in similar fashion in the third inning. RHP Ofreidy Gomez (ND) walked LF Jack Sundberg with the bases loaded, as the P-Nats led 3-1 after three innings.
Baez departed with one out in the third inning, while RHP Steven Fuentes (L, 0-1) escaped a two-out, one-on jam with a pair of strikeouts. Fuentes didn’t fare as well in the following frame, as he gave up four runs in the fourth. CF Khalil Lee plated one run with a double, while 1B Chris DeVito plated two runs with a double, which gave the Blue Rocks the lead. DH Chase Vallot followed with an RBI double, as Wilmington led 5-3 after 3.5 innings.
After four up and down innings from Gomez, RHP Anthony Bender (W, 1-0) provided four solid innings out of the Wilmington bullpen. Bender’s lone blemish came in the sixth inning, as DH Carter Kieboom connected on his second home run in as many nights. Bender allowed just one more man to reach scoring position, while RHP Bryan Brickhouse (SV, 1) retired the side in order in the ninth. It was the first appearance for Brickhouse in more than two years.
RHP Jorge Pantoja and LHP Jordan Mills worked the final four innings of the night for Potomac. The pair allowed just one hit and struck out seven over the scoreless frames. Potomac pitching has tallied 44 strikeouts in the first three games.
In search of a series split, Potomac will turn to RHP Tyler Mapes (0-0, 0.00) on Sunday. Mapes missed all of 2017 due to injury, and hasn’t pitched with Potomac since 2015. For the Blue Rocks, RHP Gerson Garabito (0-0, 0.00) will make his Carolina League debut.
First pitch on Sunday afternoon is set for 1:05pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 12:50pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.