LYNCHBURG, Va- With the major roster turnover the Potomac Nationals experienced after their three-game sweep of the Kinston Indians from Pfitzner Stadium over the weekend, you could not blame the P-Nats if they were a bit shellshocked by the loss of two major pitching pieces towards their quest of defending their Mills Cup title. Fortunately for the Nationals, 2009 first round pick Drew Storen was promoted from Low-A to stabilize a bullpen in a state of flux without their closer Atahualpa Severino.
In the first game of a six-game trip through Lynchburg and Salem, the P-Nats were witnesses to Storen's Carolina League debut and the reliever came as advertised, picking up the save in a thrilling 5-4 Potomac Nationals victory from City Stadium.
Before Storen made his initial mark on the Carolina League, Adam Carr started on the mound for the P-Nats, making a spot start in what might become a regular occurrence for the Nationals. Carr (1-1) tied a career-high by tossing five innings for the second consecutive appearance surrendering three runs on six hits while striking out three and not walking a batter.
While Carr kept the P-Nats in the ballgame, the offense was able to scratch out a run in the top of the third inning to draw first blood against the Hillcats. Michael Martinez led off with a single to right field, and Stephen King would follow with a run-scoring double to right-center field to score the P-Nats' second baseman with the game's first run.
The Cats would claw back in the bottom half of the frame, however, with three runs of their own. An RBI groundout from Angel Gonzalez would tie the game, and with two outs, leadoff hitter Jose De Los Santos bounced a ball over the head of Adam Carr for an infield single. The Cats would take advantage, roping consecutive extra-base hits to score two more times, giving themselves a 3-1 lead.
A Francisco Plasencia RBI single would score Michael Burgess to cut the deficit in half in the fourth, and a two-out rally in the fifth would put the P-Nats up for good.
Dan Nelson blasted a 3-0 pitch off the centerfield wall for his first triple of the season, and the leadoff hitter would score on a Danny Espinosa RBI double to tie the game. Jesus Valdez then blooped a single to center to score Espinosa to give the P-Nats the lead, and a Burgess RBI double off the left-center field wall would put the P-Nats up 5-3.
De Los Santos slapped an RBI single to left in the sixth off Jesse Estrada to cut the Nationals' lead to one, but then it would be time for the Carolina League debut of the Washington Nationals first-round pick, the 10th overall selection, Drew Storen.
Storen, having struck out 26 South Atlantic League batters without walking a soul in 11 games with the Hagerstown Suns, began the eighth inning with the tall task of taking on the heart of the Hillcat lineup due to bat in the inning.
Using a brilliant mix of mid-90s fastballs and devastating curveballs, Storen kept the Hillcats guessing, striking out the side in his first Carolina League inning. He came out for the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to Eric Huber, but the right-hander out of Stanford stayed calm, getting two ground balls including a 4-6-3 double play to end the ballgame, giving Storen the first save of his professional career.
Dan Nelson went 3-for-5 in the ballgame with two doubles and a triple, giving him seven total bases on the evening.
The P-Nats can go for the series win in Lynchburg for the first time this season starting with tomorrow's game scheduled for first pitch at 7:05 ET. You can catch all the action live on www.potomacnationals.com with Dan McGinn and Anthony Masterson starting with the pregame show at 6:45 ET.
For more information on tickets, daily promotions, and all things P-Nats, call (703) 590-2311 or log onto www.potomacnationals.com to join the party!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.