January 25, 2022

Washington Nationals Minor League Report for August 29

Compiled from team press releases:

SYRACUSE (AAA International League): The Syracuse Chiefs beat the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, 2-1, on Saturday night. Syracuse starter Richard Bleier pitched lights-out baseball, only allowing one run and three hits over seven innings. Dan Butler drew a walk to drive in a run and a Kevin Keyes sacrifice fly put the Chiefs ahead for good.

Lehigh Valley (60-75) struck first against Syracuse in the top of the fifth inning.  Syracuse (61-74) answered two innings later in the bottom of the seventh. Jason Martinson singled to left field to start the inning. Matt Skole then doubled off the right-field wall, putting runners on first and second. After a Sizemore groundout that held the runners, IronPigs starter David Buchanan intentionally walked Caleb Ramsey to load the bases. Butler followed the intentional walk with a walk of his own, plating Martinson and tying the game at one. Keyes then came to the plate to pinch-hit for Bleier. Keyes hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring Skole from third to seal the game at 2-1 in favor of Syracuse.

Starting pitchers Bleier and Buchanan were locked in a duel for most of the game. Buchanan lasted seven innings, allowing four hits and two runs while striking out three Syracuse batters. Bleier was even more impressive, only giving up one run while only allowing three hits and no walks. The Syracuse bullpen shut down the IronPigs as well. Matt Grace pitched one perfect inning, striking out one. Rafael Martin came in to pitch the ninth, striking out a batter while earning the save.

The Chiefs and IronPigs will play the second of a three-game home set Sunday afternoon with first pitch slated for 1:05 p.m. Right-hander A.J. Cole will take the mound for Syracuse opposite Lehigh Valley right-hander Sean O’Sullivan.

HARRISBURG (AA Eastern): The Senators rallied from a 6-0 deficit to tie the game in the eighth only to lose in walk-off fashion in the last of the ninth, 7-6 to Erie. It was the 11th walk-off loss of the year for the Senators. The Senators fell to 63-70 with the loss while Erie improved to 58-74.

The three-hour game was delayed by rain for 23 minutes in the top of the eighth inning. The game started slowly as Erie sent 12 batters to the plate in the first inning, knocking Senators starter John Simms out after nine batters. Erie scored six runs to take the lead.

The Senators rallied for four runs in the fourth with an RBI double by Chris Bostick being the only run scoring hit in the inning. They drew a run closer in the fifth when a run scored on a balk. They finally tied the game in the eighth when after the rain delay Drew Vettleson walked and then raced home on a double by Adrian Sanchez.

Bostick had three hits and scored twice in the game. He was the only Senator player with more than one hit. The bullpen was fantastic for Harrisburg with Dakota Bacus (3.0 IP), Nick Lee (1.1 IP), and Erik Davis (2.0 IP) combining to go 6.1 innings without allowing a run. Losing pitcher, Paul Demny, pitched a perfect eighth before giving up the winning run in the ninth.

The final game of the four game series is Sunday afternoon with RH Lucas Giolito on the hill for the Senators. Game time on Sunday is at 1:35 p.m. It’s also the final road game for the Senators in the 2015 season.

POTOMAC (High-A Carolina League): Potomac (61-70-Overall, 30-38-Road, 27-33-Second Half) scored two runs in the top of the first and never trailed, adding runs in the seventh and eighth in the 5-1 win in Game Three over the Salem Red Sox (60-71-Overall, 31-37-Home, 22-39-Second Half) at LewisGale Field on Saturday night.

Potomac jumped on Salem’s RHP Ty Buttrey (8-9, 3.98) in the top of the first inning to plate two runs and take a lead they would not relinquish in the ballgame. CF Rafael Bautista tripled to begin the game and then RF Narciso Mesa reached on a fielder’s choice ball that saw Bautista, who broke for home on contact, put out at home plate for the first out. Mesa swiped second base and 1B Grant DeBruin was then issued a free pass. After a DH Brenden Webb groundout moved both runners up a bag, 3B Drew Ward knocked in both Mesa and DeBruin to give the Nationals that 2-0 lead.

For the Nationals, the knuckle baller RHP Jeff Howell (1-1, 2.45) made his second start of the 2015 season with Potomac, still looking for his first Carolina League win. Howell allowed at least one base runner in every inning he was on the mound and only faced three batters once in the contest, the bottom of the third. Salem had two runners on in the bottom of the first after Howell issued two free passes. A nice defensive play by LF Estarlin Martinez kept Salem off the board.

Salem received a one out walk in the second inning and nothing else before picking up a lead-off single in the third that was erased when 2B Wendell Rijo hit into a 6-4-3 double play.

In the fifth Howell again issued two walks, for a total of six in the ballgame, but stranded both runners on the base paths in what proved to be his final frame. The six free passes are a new season high for Howell.

Howell left in line for the win, pitching five innings and he allowed three hits and one run (earned) on six walks and he struck out one, earning his first Carolina League win.

Against Buttrey, Potomac scored the two runs in the first and then were held off the scoreboard until the top of the seventh, Buttrey’s last inning. 2B Khayyan Norfork, snapped a long stretch of futility at the plate with a one-out double before coming home on the Martinez RBI single that extended his hitting streak to five consecutive ballgames and push the lead to 3-1 Nationals.

Buttrey logged seven innings and was responsible for three runs (all earned) on six hits, three walks and he struck out five in the loss.

LHP Justin Thomas entered the game in relief of Howell in the sixth inning and faced three men in the frame courtesy of a double play ball to keep the 3-1 lead. Thomas then retired the Red Sox one, two, three in the seventh and allowed two runners to reach base on singles in the eighth before recording two strikeouts and a groundout to dance out of the jam in the eighth.

Ward, in his third game back from the disabled list, hammered a pitch from RHP Chandler Shephard over the right field wall for a two-run home run, bringing home DeBruin, who reached on an infield single. The two-run homer was the sixth of the season for Ward and it gave the Nationals a 5-1 lead in the top of the eighth. Ward finished the ballgame two-for-four with four RBIs, a season high in runners driven in.

Shephard pitched two innings and allowed the two runs on the Ward home run on two hits and a strikeout.

Thomas logged three innings and allowed only three hits and no runs, while not issuing a walk and striking out three in his outing.

RHP Phillips Valdez entered for the bottom of the ninth and hit 3B Deiner Lopez with two outs before recording the final out a ground ball that DeBruin fielded and flipped to Valdez covering the base to end the ballgame.

Lynchburg won again, their fifth win in a row, and eliminated the Nationals from the postseason contention.

The series finale this afternoon will see RHP Tyler Mapes (4-3, 2.70) for Potomac against LHP Trey Ball (8-13, 4.85) for the Red Sox.

First pitch is set for 4:05 pm from LewisGale Field at Salem Memorial Ballpark

HAGERSTOWN (Low-A South Atlantic): The Hagerstown Suns (29-32, 64-65) surrendered four runs in the top of the sixth inning to the Kannapolis Intimidators (26-34, 61-68) on Saturday night, resulting in a three-run deficit and eventually a 9-4 loss in front of 2,168 at Municipal Stadium. It was the first time this season the Suns have played in front of more than 2,000 fans at Municipal Stadium.

Trailing 4-3 entering the sixth, CF Louie Lechich and 1B Alexander Simon began the frame with back-to-back singles for the Intimidators. Shortstop Toby Thomas followed with a double to left, bringing home both base runners to wind up giving Kannapolis the lead for good. Thomas had moved to third following his double on a throw to the plate to try and gun down Simon, and Thomas was able to score from third when DH Mason Robbins reached on a fielding error by Suns 2B Dan Uggla. The former National League All-Star was making his second rehab start this season with the Suns. Robbins not only reached base, but also advanced to second on Uggla’s error. Robbins then advanced one base each on back-to-back groundouts to make it 7-4.

Uggla also committed an error in the third, which helped the Intimidators plate their first three runs of the game. With two on and one out in the inning, Uggla threw wide of second after cleanly scooping up a ground ball. That allowed catcher Daniel Gonzalez to score and two runners to wind up in scoring position. A wild pitch by Suns starting RHP Luis Reyes then allowed 2B Ethan Gross to score from third and RF Michael Suiter to advance to third. Suiter scored the third run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to put the Intimidators up 3-0.

However, Uggla made up for his error and the Suns stormed back to take the lead in the bottom of the third. Uggla came to the plate with two runners in scoring position and none out, and he smacked a fly ball off the left field wall, bringing both runners in with a double to make it 3-2. Later in the inning, Uggla scored on a double to right by LF Matthew Page to even the score at 3-3. Catcher Raudy Read scored the go-ahead run before the inning came to an end on a fielder’s choice, giving the Suns their only lead of the night.

Kannapolis added a run each in the eighth and ninth to salt the game away. In the eighth Gonzalez hit a two-out RBI line drive single to left. Gonzalez was making his Intimidators debut and that was his first hit of the night. In the ninth Lechich hit an RBI double to right to set the final score.

RHP Kevin Perez (0-3) suffered the loss for Hagerstown. After taking over for Reyes, who left the game due to injury in the third, Perez went 2.1 innings, surrendering four runs (three earned) on four hits while striking out three.

These teams will continue their five-game series at Municipal Stadium with game two on Sunday, August 30. The Suns will send RHP Justin Amlung (3-3) to the mound for his seventh start and 18th appearance this season. He will square off against RHP Luis Martinez (4-13) for Kannapolis. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05pm.

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