The Lynchburg Hillcats continue to have the Potomac Nationals' number as the defending Carolina League champions suffered a 5-1 defeat in the finale of their season opening series. The P-Nats were held to just six hits on Easter Sunday and begin the 2009 season having lost three of four against their Northern Division rivals.
Lynchburg got the upper hand in the first couple innings against Nationals' starter Jeff Mandel, who suffered the loss despite only allowing three runs on five hits in six innings of work. Hillcats' second baseman Jose De Los Santos led off the 1st with a single and he immediately stole second to get into scoring position. Two batters later, first baseman Matt Hague brought home De Los Santos with and RBI single giving the home team a 1-0 lead.
It was more of the same in the bottom of the 2nd when Lynchburg centerfielder Marcus Davis reached on a fielder's choice and then stole second with one out off of the battery of Mandel and P-Nats' catcher Brian Peacock. Davis came around to score the Hillcats' second run on a run-scoring double by DH Eddie Prasch.
In the 4th, Prasch drove in his second run of the game when he lifted a sacrifice fly to left scoring Miles Durham who had singled and stole a base earlier in the frame. Overall, the Hillcats successfully stole four bases on Sunday and eight total thefts for the series.
Potomac couldn't get much going against a trio of Lynchburg hurlers beginning with the starter Chi-Hung Cheng who only allowed two hits and walked a pair in four innings. Reliever Dustin Mollecken (2-0) picked up where he left off from his Thursday night win by tossing three one-hit innings and striking out four. Only Chris Cullen, a recent call-up by Lynchburg, was touched for a run when he gave up an RBI double by Peacock in the 9th. Mollecken threw five shutout innings and earned two wins in the series.
Stephen King was the only P-Nat in the lineup with a multi-hit game as he singled twice and scored Potomac's only run on Sunday. Peacock's double was his first extra-base hit of the season and also reached base twice in the contest.
The team now travels to Salem to face the Red Sox in a four-game series from Lewis-Gale Medical Center Field in Salem, Va. First pitch for game one is set for 7:05 and Dan McGinn will have all the action 6:45 p.m. with the Potomac Nationals pre-game show and you can hear all the action online at www.potomacnationals.com
The P-Nats return home to celebrate their 2008 Carolina League Championship on Friday, April 17 when they host the Myrtle Beach Pelicans from Pfitzner Stadium at 7:05 p.m. It's the first Freebie Friday of the season and the first 1,000 fans will receive a Replica Championship Ring courtesy of the News & Messenger.
Join the party all season long at Pfitzner Stadium with the Potomac Nationals! Single-game tickets, season tickets and mini-plans for the 2009 season are available now. For more information, call (703) 590-2311 or visit www.potomacnationals.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.