Frederick, MD-The Potomac Nationals (42-27, 20-15) finished the first half of the 2013 Carolina League season on a winning note by edging the Frederick Keys (34-35, 16-17) by the final score of 9-8 on Sunday afternoon at Harry Grove Stadium. Potomac completed the first half of the campaign with a league-best 42 victories and a guaranteed playoff spot after being crowned 2013 Carolina League First-Half Northern Division Champions with an 8-0 shutout win last Thursday night.
A contest that was billed as a showdown featuring two of the top southpaw pitching prospects in the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles farm systems in LHP Robbie Ray and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez respectively, resulted in a shootout after both starters, at their time of exit, left the mound as the losing pitcher of record.
Ray allowed a season-high six earned runs and single outing most three home runs in 4.0 innings while walking two and fanning five. Prior to the start Sunday, Ray had not surrendered more than two earned runs in any one start or more than one home run. In fact, Ray allowed just three longballs over his previous 13 starts.
Rodriguez made it through just 3.0 frames and gave up four runs, only one earned, on four base hits. The lefty relinquished two walks and one homer while striking out a pair.
Frederick scored first on a solo home run off the bat of DH Michael Ohlman, his fourth dinger of the season, in the 2nd inning.
Potomac responded with four runs in the 3rd courtesy of an RBI fielder's choice chopper by LF Caleb Ramsey that 3B Nicky Delmonico tossed away at second base bringing home 2B Francisco Soriano, who walked before 1B Justin Miller crushed a three-run homer over everything in left center field, his second homer of the series and fourth on the season.
Down 4-1, the Keys plated five runs, all with two outs, in the 4th frame, to take a 6-4 lead, as LF Delvi Cid cranked a three-run homer way out to left center, his third of the season against Potomac and fifth overall on the campaign, before 2B Jerome Pena blasted a line-drive, two-run shot into the second tier of signage in the left center gap, Pena's eighth deep fly of the season.
The P-Nats returned fire with a five-run spot in the 5th off RHP Tommy Winegardner (1-3), the losing pitcher, and LHP Zach Fowler via a fielding error by Delmonico at third base, an RBI single off the stick of SS Adrian Sanchez, a run scoring one-base knock from 3B Mike Gilmartin, a bases loaded RBI walk for Soriano, and a fielding error by SS Sammie Starr.
Winegardner was charged with five runs, three earned and Fowler tossed 2.2 scoreless innings.
Potomac RHP Marcos Frias (1-0), the winning pitcher, tossed a scoreless 5th inning and stranded a pair of singles ripped by Ohlman and C Allan de San Miguel, with back-to-back strikeouts of RF Brenden Webb and Starr.
Frederick tallied individual runs in the 6th and 7th off RHP Brian Dupra using an RBI fielder's choice chopped by 1B Christian Walker and a solo four-bagger lifted by de San Miguel to put the Potomac lead at just 9-8.
Nationals RHP David Fischer (SV 1) earned his first save of the season with 2.0 scoreless frames in which he allowed just two walks and fanned four.
Fischer slammed the door on the first half of the season with a one-two-three bottom of the 9th. Starr struck out swinging and Cid lined out hard right back to the mound and knocked Fischer over but he held onto the ball before CF Johnny Ruettiger waved at strike three to end the Nationals' 2013 first half on a high note.
Potomac sends four players to the 2013 California-Carolina League All-Star Game to be played Tuesday, June 18th at Municipal Stadium, home of the San Jose Giants (Class-A Advanced, San Francisco Giants).
LHP Robbie Ray, RHP Blake Schwartz, OF Billy Burns, and C Adrian Nieto will represent the Potomac Nationals in the All-Star game that pits the perennial prospects of the Carolina League against their counterparts in the California League.
The Nationals usher in a seven-game homestand beginning Friday, June 21st with a 7:05pm game as Potomac hosts the Carolina Mudcats (Cleveland Indians) at Pfitzner Stadium for a weekend series before welcoming in the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Texas Rangers) for the next four contests.
Friday evening's game on 6/21 at 7:05pm will feature former MLB 30-game winner, Denny McLain signing autographs and greeting P-Nats fans in addition to Scout Night. On Saturday, a 6:35pm game, the best fireworks show in Northern Virginia will light up the sky post-game and the first 1,000 kids through the gates at The Pfitz will receive a youth glove presented by: Sentara. On Sunday, a 6:05pm start, Military Appreciation Night will give back to community military members, Kids Eat Free courtesy of: Little Caesars Team Dumfries & Haymarket, and post-game fireworks will again dazzle the Nationals faithful.
The Potomac Nationals Baseball Network will begin streaming Friday night with the P-Nats Baseball Lead-Off Show at 6:50pm in preparation for the live play-by-play at 7:05pm. Broadcast coverage of Potomac Nationals Baseball is accessible by heading to www.potomacnationals.com.
The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League play at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, Virginia, and are the Class-A Advanced affiliate of the Washington Nationals. P-Nats 2013 season tickets and mini plans are on sale now. Sponsorship opportunities for the '13 season are now available. Plan your corporate outing now to see the future stars of the Washington Nationals at The Pfitz as the P-Nats offer discounted group rates and all-inclusive picnic options. Visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com or call the ticket office at 703-590-2311 for more!
-- Potomac Nationals --
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.