Whiting Paces Potomac as Nats Stave Off Sox
The P-Nats offense came out swinging early in the ballgame, notching runs in four of the first five innings. Boomer Whiting paced the P-Nat attack with three hits and three RBI as the speed demon reached base four times, swiping two bases as well. It was struggling second baseman Dan Lyons, however, who knocked the most important hit of the day when he lined a two-strike, two-out, two-run single to left off Sox starter Seth Garrison (2-5) to make it a 5-2 ballgame.
The Nats have been mostly unsuccessful with men in scoring position and two outs so far this season, owning a team batting average of .190 in such situations, but they recorded five base hits with runners in scoring position Monday, including another clutch single off the bat of Boomer in the fifth to push the P-Nat lead to 7-2.
The bullpen would begin to put goose eggs on the board in the middle innings as Dan Leatherman (2-0) was brilliant in the long relief role out of the 'pen in relief of Colton Willems, who struggled to make it out of the third inning. Leatherman did the yeoman's work by tossing 3 2/3 frames, allowing just two runs to bridge the gap to the P-Nats' stellar late-inning relief corps.
Potomac went into the ninth with a comfortable 8-4 advantage, but the Sox had one more rally left in their bats. Clint Everts came on for his third inning of work, but after a single, an error, and a walk Everts found himself in a one-out, bases-loaded situation. Manager Trent Jewett made the call to the bullpen for flamethrower Cole Kimball to shut the door.
Kimball coaxed Chi-Hsien Chiang into a fly ball to centerfield but Francisco Plasencia dropped the baseball, allowing a run to score to make it 8-5. A strikeout followed, but a hit by pitch brought in another run and it was white-knuckle time at Lewis-Gale Field. Kimball dug deep and froze Che-Hsuan Lin on a 79 mph slider on the outside corner to pick up his third save of the season and close out an all-important series opening victory for the P-Nats.
These two teams will square off again Tuesday night with first pitch at 7:05 ET. You can hear all the action live on www.potomacnationals.com with Dan McGinn and Anthony Masterson starting with the pregame show starting at approximately 6:45 ET.
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