Lynchburg, VA-Behind a three-run fourth frame, the Potomac Nationals (1-1) leveled the Northern Division Championship Series at one game apiece with a 4-1 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats (1-1) on Thursday night. CF Nick Banks hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, which proved to be the difference in the game, as Potomac erased an early 1-0 deficit.
LHP Matthew Crownover (W, 1-0) followed up his no-hitter vs. Lynchburg less than two weeks ago with a five-inning performance, as he allowed just one run on five hits. Crownover struck out six and walked four in the victory.
The Hillcats jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but that was all the offense for Lynchburg in game two. After Lynchburg wasted a two-on, nobody out opportunity in the second inning, the top of the order pushed a run across in the third frame. LF Mitch Longo singled with one out, and he scored two batters later on a two-out RBI double from DH Gavin Collins. Collins' double came inches away from a home run, as it hit off the top of the left field wall. The Hillcats left two runners on base in the second, third, and fourth frames against Crownover.
Down 1-0, Potomac jumped on Jean Carlos Mejia (L, 0-1) for three runs in the fourth inning. In just his second career start at the Advanced-A level, Mejia worked easily through his first three innings, but struggled in his fourth frame. 1B Aldrem Corredor led off the inning with a single, while two batters later, Banks hit a towering two-run home run over the right-centerfield wall. Banks' home run gave Potomac the lead, while a single from RF Rhett Wiseman and an RBI double from LF Telmito Agustin gave Potomac a 3-1 advantage.
After five frames from Crownover, LHP Ben Braymer spun three-shutout innings. Braymer retired the first six batters that he faced, and seven of the first eight, six via strikeout. Collins led off the eighth inning with a double, while 1B Anthony Miller reached on a fielding error by 3B Ian Sagdal . A walk drawn by CF Austen Wade loaded the bases with just one out, but the Hillcats squandered the opportunity, as Braymer struck out C Josh Rolette, and then got SS Alexis Pantoja to fly out to left field.
For the ninth frame, Potomac went back to the bullpen, as RHP Steven Fuentes (SV, 1) retired the side in order. Fuentes fell behind all three hitters in the inning 1-0, but got a strikeout, a groundout, and a fly out, as he secured Potomac's 4-1 victory.
With the series level at one game apiece, the series will head to Northwest Federal Field for games three, four, and five (if necessary). Friday night, RHP Kyle Johnston (5-2, 4.94) is set to start for Potomac. In his final regular season start, Johnston allowed seven runs on seven hits over three innings in a loss to Wilmington. LHP Tanner Tully (6-11, 4.47) is set to start for the Hillcats. Tully allowed two earned runs over seven innings in his final regular season start, a victory over the Salem Red Sox on Saturday.
First pitch at Northwest Federal Field on Friday is set for 7:05pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 6:50pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com, at http://bit.ly/P-NatsBroadcast, or on the TuneIn Radio App.
The Potomac Nationals of the Carolina League, play at Northwest Federal Field 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 P-Nats' 2018 season and beyond are available, as well as all-inclusive corporate picnic outings to watch the future stars of the Washington Nationals at The Pfitz. 2018 Potomac Nationals season tickets and mini plans are now on sale. For more information on Potomac Nationals 2018 season tickets, mini plans, group outings, picnic packages, fundraisers, and all things Red, White, and Blue, visit the P-Nats online at www.potomacnationals.com, follow the P-Nats on Facebook (@PotomacNationals), Twitter (@PNats42), and Instagram (@pnats42), or call the Potomac Nationals' Extreme Custom Collision Ticket Office at 703-590-2311.
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