P-Nats Take Game One 6-1, Fall 4-3 in 11 Innings in Game Two
Wilmington, DE – For the second consecutive night, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (14-19) picked up a walk-off victory over the Potomac Nationals (16-16). After the P-Nats tallied a 6-1 win in the first half of Wednesday night’s doubleheader, the Blue Rocks rallied from behind twice in extra innings, and DH Travis Maezes came up with an 11th inning two-run single with the bases loaded against RHP Sam Held (L, 0-2) in the nightcap.
In game one, Wilmington threatened throughout the start for RHP Joan Baez (W, 1-4), as they had five men reach base over the first two innings, yet failed to score. Baez gave up a single and walked two in the first inning, yet one man was caught stealing and another tagged out at the plate on a pitch in the dirt. In the second inning, LF Roman Collins led off with a single, but 3B Wander Franco followed with a double play. Despite another walk that followed, Baez escaped again.
The Blue Rocks finally got to Baez in the third inning, though it was the only run that the hometown team scored in the game one loss. DH Colton Frabasillio led off the frame with a walk, took second base on a sacrifice bunt, and he scored two batters later on a two-out RBI single by RF Anderson Miller. Baez allowed just one more man to reach base in his start, as he tallied his first win of 2017.
Potomac did not get a runner on base until there was one out in the fourth inning, as RHP Scott Blewett (L, 1-3) got off to a tremendous start. After 3.1 perfect frames, Blewett gave up a single to 1B Ian Sagdal, and two batters later, C Taylor Gushue made it 2-1 with his league best ninth home run of the season.
The P-Nats added on an insurance run in the fifth inning, and another three in the sixth, all against Blewett, who allowed six runs over 5.2 innings and fell to 0-2 in three starts vs. Potomac. 2B Bryan Mejia, who doubled to lead off the fifth, scored on a wild pitch, while Gushue tallied his second two-run home run of the game with one out in the fifth. Mejia capped off the game’s scoring with a two-out RBI single in the sixth inning, which ended Blewett’s night. RHP Kyle Schepel worked two-shutout innings and closed out the Potomac victory.
In game two, things looked good for The Red, White, & Blue through much of the game, which included two different leads in extra innings. LHP Matthew Crownover (ND) allowed only one run over six innings in the start for Potomac. Crownover struck out five and allowed just three hits in his best start of the season.
Opposite Crownover, LHP Colin Rodgers (ND) allowed just an unearned run over four innings in the spot start. Rodgers struck out a season high eight batters, as the Blue Rocks struck out 20 Potomac hitters in the second half of the doubleheader. 20 strikeouts were the most for any team on the pitching side and the hitting side in the Carolina League thus far in 2017.
With the game tied at one after the requisite seven innings, the P-Nats appeared to have the game locked up. Against LHP Jake Kalish, 1B Matt Page led off the eighth inning with a double. After a sacrifice bunt from CF Victor Robles, LF Jack Sundberg put Potomac on top 3-2 with a sacrifice fly. 2B Austin Davidson had a chance to add insurance, but the second baseman popped out with men at second and third, which ended the frame.
RHP Mariano Rivera, who had worked a scoreless seventh inning, could not close out a win for himself. Rivera issued a leadoff walk to Maezes in the bottom of the eighth. After a single from C Nate Esposito, SS Jecksson Flores was successful with a sacrifice bunt attempt. CF Cody Jones then tied the game with a sacrifice fly, but the Blue Rocks left the winning run at third base. In addition, Wilmington left the winning run at third base in the ninth inning, and at second base in the 10th frame.
Potomac rallied against RHP Gabe Cramer (W, 1-0) with two outs in the top of the 11th inning. After Cramer retired the first eight men that he faced, Davidson came up with a two-out double. After Mejia walked, RF Rhett Wiseman appeared to give Potomac what it needed for a victory with an RBI single, though the P-Nats left another man in scoring position. It was Potomac’s only hit in game two with a man in scoring position.
After two scoreless innings for Held, the Blue Rocks put together the game-winning rally with one out in the bottom of the 11th. Down 3-2 and down to their final two outs, Miller singled, Held hit Frabasillio with a 1-2 pitch, and Collins walked, which loaded the bases. Maezes ended the ballgame with a two-run single onto the right field grass, as the Blue Rocks plated two runs in the frame and tallied a 4-3 walk-off win.
Coming off of the doubleheader split, the P-Nats will try to salvage a series split on Thursday night at Frawley Stadium. RHP Luis Reyes (1-5, 6.32) will look to rebound from his last outing, as he allowed eight earned runs over a season low 3.1 innings in a loss to Lynchburg. For the Blue Rocks, RHP A.J. Puckett (3-2, 2.94) will face Potomac for the second time this season. Pucket has allowed more than two earned runs in just one of his first six starts in 2017. First pitch is set for 6:35pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:20pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.