After taking the first game of the Carolina League's best-of-3 Northern Division Series on Wednesday, Class A Advanced Potomac burst out of the gate Thursday with a leadoff home run from Isaac Ballou.
"That was good," said manager Tripp Keister. "We were really ready to go, and that kind of started us off."
Ballou finished 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBIs and two runs scored to help the Nationals to a 4-3 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats on Thursday. The victory completed a two-game sweep to send the P-Nats into the Mills Cup Championship Series for their second straight season. The Finals begin Saturday.
"It was a good night," Keister said. "We're looking forward to finding out who we play next and to starting that series."
Carolina League batting champion and 18th-ranked Nationals prospect Tony Renda went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, and Randolph Oduber added two hits and a run scored.
Brian Rauh (1-0) didn't allow a run until he gave up a sixth-inning solo dinger to Lynchburg's Jose Martinez in the sixth. He allowed three hits and two walks while fanning a pair.
"He gave us six innings and just gave up the home run in the sixth," Keister said. "He gave us a chance. That's what he's been doing all year -- giving us good starts."
The Hillcats scored two more runs in the seventh and threatened in the eighth.
"We've had close games with Lynchburg all year. This one was no different. In yesterday's game too, they had the tying run on base late, and [Gilberto] Mendez got the save for us both nights," said Keister. "It's one of those things where we had one more big hit than they did."
Mendez entered the game with two outs and runners on first and second for the Hillcats. Emerson Landoni singled to right field, but P-Nats right fielder Brandon Miller threw Kevin Ahrens at the plate for the second straight evening.
"Brandon charged the ball well and cut the run down. He threw a strike right to the plate," Keister said. "He did it last night too, pretty much the same play. It was definitely the play of the game last night, and it was the play of the game tonight too."
Lynchburg's Yenier Bello went 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a walk.
In other Carolina League action:
Pelicans 4, Red Sox 1
Preston Beck hit a two-run triple, doubled and scored a run to help Myrtle Beach even its series at a game apiece. Pelicans leadoff hitter Chris Grayson tripled, singled, stole a base and scored twice. Luis Parra earned the victory by holding Salem to a run on five hits and three walks while striking out four over 5 2/3 innings. Jake Romanski plated No. 7 Red Sox prospect Manuel Margot on a second-inning groundout for Salem. Box score »