WOODBRIDGE—As free baseball began at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium Friday night, it appeared as though the Potomac Nationals had all the momentum in the ballpark.
Just two innings earlier, the P-Nats had rallied from a 4-2 deficit to even things up against the visiting Frederick Keys. Even more promising was the fact that starter Andrew Lee had overcome a rough third inning to pitch five solid frames before relievers Luis Reyes and Jhonatan German followed him with four combined scoreless innings.
And then, just like that, it all came undone in the span of three at-bats with one out in the top of the 10th.
Frederick center fielder Jake Ring delivered a go-ahead RBI triple into the right field corner, third baseman Jomar Reyes followed by Baltimore-chopping an RBI single over Potomac shortstop David Masters’ head and into left, and then first baseman J.C. Escarra crushed a German fastball over the fence in right to completely turn the game on its ear and propel the Keys to a 8-4 Carolina League victory.
The sudden rally left the P-Nats (18-29) stunned, and sent them to their fifth loss in the last seven games.
Potomac struck first on Friday, scratching across a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. Third baseman Anderson Franco hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored designated hitter K.J. Harrison, who had walked to lead off the inning. Center fielder Gage Canning then following Franco with a double over Ring’s head in center to give the P-Nats a 2-0 lead.
That was all Potomac would get against Frederick (24-22) starter Blaine Knight, who turned in five innings. The right-hander allowed just three hits while walking two and striking out two.
In the third, Keys second baseman Willy Yahn blasted a three-run homer to center off Lee, and Ring went back-to-back with him by ripping a solo shot to right that gave Frederick its 4-2 advantage.
The Keys’ No. 1 through No. 5 hitters (Yahn, Ring, Reyes, Escarra and right fielder Zach Jarrett) went a combined 8-for-24 in the game with a double, a triple, three homers, five runs scored and all eight of Frederick’s RBIs.
Lee surrendered four hits, walked two and struck out five over his five innings on the mound.
The P-Nats’ rally in the eighth began when right fielder Nick Banks led off the frame by doubling to right against Keys reliever David Lebron. Banks came around to score on a single by first baseman Aldrem Corredor, and then Masters drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the score at 4 apiece.
Left fielder Telmito Agustin led the Potomac offense with a 2-for-4 night, while Masters, Franco, Harrison, Canning, Banks and Corredor all collected one hit each.
The two teams will continue their four-game series through Memorial Day, before Potomac begins a seven-game road trip Wednesday at Myrtle Beach.