Zebulon, NC-The Potomac Nationals (9-10, 5-4) received a stellar Carolina League starting pitching debut from RHP Blake Schwartz, promoted today from Class-A Hagerstown, and a two-run rocket off the lumber of 1B Kevin Keyes, his first longball of the season, to sink the Carolina Mudcats (8-11, 6-7) on Wednesday evening at Five County Stadium.
The Nationals are now (2-1) in their shutout contests in the 2013 campaign and dealt the Mudcats their first blanking of the '13 season.
Schwartz (1-0), the winning pitcher, was brilliant through 6.0 scoreless innings allowing just three separated base hits and one walk, while striking out five in his Potomac Nationals debut.
Schwartz only surrendered a double off the bat of SS Francisco Lindor in the 1st inning, a two-base hit to LF Bryson Myles in the 2nd stanza, and a leadoff single to 1B Jerrud Sabourin in the 4th frame.
Keyes' majestic, Ruthian blast was a high-arching drive that collided with a band of bulbs on the left field light pole, smashing one of the bulbs and putting that individual light out of commission a la "The Natural."
Carolina LHP Shawn Morimando (1-2), the losing pitcher, earned a quality start, by tossing 6.0 innings and allowing just two earned runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts to his line.
Potomac RHP Tyler Herron was terrific in relief as he struck out the side in the 7th inning and worked around a single allowed to 2B Zack MacPhee in the 8th to turn in a pair of scoreless relief frames.
Nationals RHP Derek Self (1 SV), after a rocky beginning to his 2013 journey, pitched a scary 9th inning but was able to tiptoe through trouble and earn his first save of the season.
Self walked the leadoff man, Sabourin, on four pitches, then gave up a single on a grounder up the middle off the bat of RF Jordan Smith that tipped Self's bright red glove to put runners at first and second base. Then, DH Anthony Gallas knocked a grounder to the SS Adrian Sanchez to cut down Smith at second base, and the following hitter, C Jake Lowery hit an identical fielder's choice grounder that had Gallas out at second. Gallas came in hard and Sanchez was able to regain his composure after a minor collision that spun Sanchez to the ground. Myles dribbled into a 1-3 putout to end the game as Self underhanded the ball to Keyes at first sealing the shutout victory for the Potomac Nationals.
Game Four on Thursday evening will feature RHP Taylor Hill (3-0, 1.42) gunning against RHP Will Roberts (0-3, 8.56).
The Nationals can even this four-game set with a victory tomorrow night against Carolina before a weekend road series in Myrtle Beach, SC against the Southern Division's Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers).
First pitch is slated for 7:15pm with the Potomac Nationals Baseball Network getting underway at 7:00pm in anticipation of the live play-by-play.
The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League play at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia, and are the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Washington Nationals. P-Nats 2013 season tickets and mini plans are on sale now. Sponsorship opportunities for the '13 season are now available. Plan your corporate outing now in preparation for the summer months as the P-Nats offer discounted group rates and all-inclusive picnic options. Visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com or call the ticket office at 703-590-2311 for more!
-- Potomac Nationals -