(WOODBRIDGE, VA) - With an RBI single from Kevin Keyes in the eighth and an excellent relief appearance from Trevor Holder, the Potomac Nationals defeated the Winston-Salem Dash 6-5 on Middle School Science Day. The Nationals and Dash split a four-game series.
The Nationals opened the scoring in the first off of Dash starter RHP Steve McCray. Blake Kelso walked and stole second -- his tenth swipe in as many attempts. Justin Bloxom knocked a double to deep right-center that scored Kelso and Potomac had a 1-0 lead.
20-year old LHP Robbie Ray made his Carolina League debut for the Nationals. After retiring the first seven batters of the game including four via the strikeout, Ray ran into trouble in the third. Miguel Gonzalez was the first batter to reach on a bloops single down the right field line. He scored on a double down the left field line by Jake Oester who was given extra life by a balk call to even the score 1-1. Originally, Oester swung and missed at a 2-2 pitch but Ray was called for a balk. Oester was thrown out on at home by Michael Taylor on a single by Marcus Semien. The Dash made it four hits in a row with a single by Carlos Sanchez that scored Semien and gave Winston-Salem their first lead 2-1.
Winston-Salem scored more in the fourth. After a lead-off walk by Dan Black, Brady Shoemaker knocked a homer to deep left-center field -- his third of the series and sixth of the year -- and the Dash led 4-1.
The P-Nats came back in the fourth with two runs. Bloxom led of the inning with a walk, Zach Walters singled and both scored on a Michael Taylor double to cut the lead to 4-3.
Winston-Salem responded with a run in the top of the fifth. They added a run on a Dan Black fielders choice that scored Semien and extended the lead to 5-3 over Potomac. The day ended for Ray who tossed four and a third innings. All five runs against Ray were earned. He struck out five batters and gave up seven hits.
Dash starter Steve McCray ended his day giving up three runs over four innings. He struck out six batters, while giving up four hits and walking two. Both starters got no decisions.
The back and forth battle continued in the bottom half of fifth. Kelso reached on a single and scored on a homer out to right by Justin Bloxom to tie the score 5-5. It was his second of the season.
Nationals reliever Trevor Holder was excellent out of the bullpen. He faced 11 batters and recorded 11 outs including two strikeouts. He tossed perfect sixth, seventh and eighth innings to put Potomac in a position to win.
In the eighth against Dash reliever Taylor Thompson, Potomac mounted a rally. Zach Walters led off the inning with a single. With Michael Taylor up, he stole second on a fake bunt attempt. He reached third on a two-strike bunt by Taylor. With the infield in, Kevin Keyes smacked an RBI single to right field to give Potomac a 6-5 lead.
Rob Wort came on to try and close it out. After striking out the first batter he faced, Nick Ciolli knocked a soft double down the right field line off Wort. But Wort struck out the final two batters of the game for his second save of the year.
Holder (2-0) earned the win and Taylor Thompson (0-1) took the loss. Justin Bloxom led the P-Nat attack by going 2-for-3 with 3 RBI and Zach Walters had three base hits.
Tomorrow the Nationals begin a three-game series with Wilmington tomorrow night at 7:05 PM with RHP Matt Swynenberg (2-1, 3.24) taking the hill. For tickets, please call us at 703-590-2311.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.