Woodbridge, VA---The Potomac Nationals (9-9-Overall, 4-7-Home) rallied in the late innings to pull within one run of the Lynchburg Hillcats (8-10-Overall, 5-7-Road) but comeback rally ultimately fell short and the P-Nats dropped the series finale 4-3 at G. Pfitzner Stadium on Monday night.
The ace of the staff RHP Nick Pivetta (1-2, 1.35) took the mound for the fourth time this season looking to right the ship and get the P-Nats back into the win column before embarking on another seven-game road trip.
Opposing Pivetta was RHP Michael Peoples (1-1, 4.11) for Lynchburg, who was making his third start of the season and still looking for his first win of the year.
A scoreless first inning turned in by both pitchers took us to the top of the second inning when Pivetta seemed to have trouble finding the strike zone. He issued back-to-back walks before DH Luigi Rodriguez sent a single into right field. On the play RF Brandon Miller bobbled the ball and that allowed LF Mike Papi to scoot home for the game's first run and a 1-0 Hillcats lead.
Still trailing 1-0 in the top of the third, the wheels fell off for Potomac. Four straight base on balls were issued to begin the inning with the RBI walk going to 1B Nellie Rodriguez that drove in CF Clint Frazier for a 2-0 Hillcats lead. Papi followed with a sacrifice fly that plated 3B Paul Hendrix for a 3-0 Lynchburg lead. For Papi it was his first RBI of the season.
Pivetta was lifted after three innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on one hit, six walks and he struck out three, taking his second loss of the season.
Potomac scratched across a run in the bottom of the fourth against Peoples when CF Isaac Ballou singled sharply to right field. Two batters later with Ballou standing on third base, 3B Drew Ward knocked him in with an RBI groundout to cut the lead to 3-1 Lynchburg.
Lynchburg plated a big insurance run in the top of the fifth against RHP Kevin Perez, who entered the game in fourth in place of Pivetta. A one out double by RF Bradley Zimmer began the offense and Papi brought home Zimmer with a double of his own to push the lead to 4-1 in favor of the 'Cats.
Peoples began the bottom of the sixth inning but ultimately would not last the whole frame after Ballou led-off with a double. C Spencer Kieboom extended his hitting streak to seven games and his on-base streak to eight games with a single before Ward knocked in his second run of the ballgame with a single to make it 4-2 Hillcats. Ward now has 14 RBIs on the season and 12 of them have come against the Lynchburg Hillcats.
The Ward single marked the end of the line for Peoples who pitched five-plus innings allowing three runs (all earned), on six hits, he walked two and fanned four, earning his first win of the season.
Lynchburg summoned RHP Delvy Francisco from the bullpen and he relinquished a single to load the bases by 2B Khayyan Norfork. Two batters later Miller brought home Kieboom with an RBI groundout to the right side that made it 4-3 Hillcats.
The rally died there as Francisco pitched a scoreless seventh inning followed by a scoreless eighth from RHP Benny Suarez and a scoreless ninth inning by RHP Casey Weathers (SV 3), who picked up his third save of the season. The 4-3 win for Lynchburg clinched the series three games to one and marked the first time in 2015 the 'Cats have taken a series from Potomac.
The bright spots for Potomac were Perez out of the bullpen and Ballou at the plate. In his first appearance for Potomac since signing on April 9th, Perez pitched four innings allowing one run on two hits. He didn't issue a walk and struck out five. Ballou had a three-hit night, including a double a stolen base and two runs scored.
Potomac now hits the road for the second time in 2015 on another seven game road trip. They head to Winston-Salem for a three game series followed by a trip to Salem for the final four games of the trip.
The P-Nats will send RHP John Simms (0-0, 0.00) to the mound against RHP James Dykstra (3-0, 0.45) for the Winston-Salem Dash.
First pitch tomorrow night from BB&T Ballpark is scheduled for 7:00 pm and the "P-Nats Lead-off Show" will start the broadcast at 6:45 pm and take you up to first pitch. You can listen live at www.potomacnationals.com or via the TuneIn Radio App.
The Potomac Nationals play at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia, and are the Carolina League affiliate of the Washington Nationals. The Potomac Nationals have claimed five Carolina League Championship titles (1982, 1989, 2008, 2010, and 2014) and nine CL Northern Division Championships. The P-Nats are the defending Carolina League Champions after winning the 2014 Mills Cup Championship Series. Potomac Nationals 2015 season tickets and mini plans are now on sale. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2015 season and beyond are available. Corporate outing reservations for the 2015 season to watch the future stars of the Washington Nationals at The Pfitz may be placed now as the P-Nats offer discounted group rates and all-inclusive picnics. Visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com or call the Potomac Nationals Ticket Office at 703-590-2311 for more information!