Lynchburg, VA-Despite a season best four hits for CF Victor Robles on his 20th birthday, the Potomac Nationals (19-21) fell to a season worst two games under .500 with an 11-7 loss to the Lynchburg Hillcats (21-18). Paired with scores from around the rest of the league, the P-Nats ended the night in last place in the Northern Division, a first for 2017.
The Hillcats jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against RHP Wirkin Estevez (L, 2-3). 1B Sicnarf Loopstok put Lynchburg on top 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run home run, his fourth home run of the season. It was the first of six extra-base hits on the night for the Hillcats, who set a 2017 single game high with five doubles.
RHP Matt Esparza (W, 3-3) worked himself in and out of trouble multiple times over the first five innings. The right-handed starter stranded men at first and second base in the first inning, men at the corners in the third frame, and a man on first base in the fifth. Esparza did not give up a run until the sixth inning, when the Hillcats already led 7-0.
Lynchburg turned a 2-0 lead into a 7-0 lead vs. Estevez with a single run in the fourth inning and another four runs in the fifth frame. C Daniel Salters made it 3-0 with an RBI double in the fourth inning, a wild pitch made it 4-0 in the fifth, CF Jodd Carter plated a run with a double, while 3B Claudio Bautista made it 7-0 with a two-run single. Estevez gave up seven earned runs for the second time in 2017, the first time he gave up more than three earned runs since his 2017 season debut.
The P-Nats mounted a comeback and scored in each of the final four frames, though they never pulled within four runs. RF Rhett Wiseman got the P-Nats on the scoreboard with a two-run home run in the sixth inning against Esparza. LHP Billy Strode entered for the Hillcats in the top of the seventh inning and failed to make it through the frame. Robles went to the opposite field for his fourth home run of the season, a two-run blast, while 3B Kelvin Gutierrez capped off the three-run inning with an RBI double. RHP Paul Hendrix entered with two men on and two outs and struck out SS Bryan Mejia .
In the eighth inning, Robles tallied his fourth hit of the game with a two-out RBI triple. Friday night was Robles' first four-hit game since 7/23/15 when he 4-5 for the Auburn Doubledays. It matched his career high for hits in a single game. Potomac scored its final run in the ninth inning on a two-out RBI single by Mejia, but RHP Kieran Lovegrove entered for Hendrix and struck out DH Matt Page on three pitches to end the game.
Lynchburg's 15 hits matched the most that the P-Nats have given up in a single game this season. 15 different players had at least one hit between the two teams, while nine players had a multi-hit effort. With home runs from Wiseman and Robles, Potomac remains in the league lead for home runs with 39.
Sitting at the bottom of the Northern Division for the first time all year, the P-Nats will aim to bounce back on Saturday night against Lynchburg. RHP Joan Baez (1-5, 5.29) is scheduled to start for Potomac. Baez has gone three consecutive starts of at least five innings and two or fewer earned runs, his best stretch of the season. For the Hillcats, RHP Shane Bieber (0-0, 1.50) will make his third start of the season. Bieber has gone six innings and allowed one earned run in each of his first two Carolina League starts.
First pitch is set for 6:00pm on Saturday night. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 5:45pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.
Potomac's next homestand is set to get started on Tuesday, May 23rd, as the Frederick Keys will visit The Pfitz. Tuesday night, the P-Nats open with another Deuces Wild Tuesday. Grandstand tickets are just $2 each, while the P-Nats will offer $2 player performance-based concessions specials as well as $2 Wild Card concessions specials. Wednesday brings another Winning Wednesday. If the P-Nats win, redeem your ticket for another ticket of equal value for the next Wednesday home game! Wednesday contests and raffles will provide Nine Innings of Winning throughout the game. The homestand concludes with a Thursday Cheers, which will feature $1 drink specials. It's also another College Night Pfitz Party. With proof of a student ID, grandstand tickets will be $5 and the Picnic Area will feature water pong, cornhole, and trivia.
The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League play at 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. Sponsorship opportunities for the 2017 season and beyond are available, as well as corporate outings for the 2017 season to watch the future stars of the Washington Nationals at The Pfitz. For more information on Potomac Nationals 2017single game tickets, season tickets, mini plans, group outings, and picnic packages, visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com or call the Potomac Nationals Ticket office at 703-590-2311.
-- Potomac Nationals --
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.