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Norris Outstanding; Sens Start Strong; Sens/P-Nats playoffs. 9/8

Playoffs are awesome and I want our teams to win, but half of them winning is that it gets us more games for prospect development. More than any of the game results yesterday, the most important outcome was that catcher Derek Norris, who may be our best prospect currently in the minors and wants to build momentum for the Arizona Fall League, took advantage of the extended playing time in an impressive playoff debut. He went two for three, scored two runs, walked twice and hit a ninth inning home run. And just for the folks who have questions about his defense, he gunned down the one guy who dared to steal on him in the bottom of the eighth before his ninth inning dinger.

Harrisburg found itself down 3-0 after the first inning last night. Staff ace Tom Milone missed his location on an 0-2 pitch, and paid the price when that pitch was deposited in the seats for a two run homer. A Stephen Lombardozzi error turned into an unearned run, and it was time to start wondering whether the big stage of the playoffs was overwhelming the young prospects. Harrisburg bounced back immediately and in a big way. In the top of the second, a Burgess leadoff walk, a single from Ofilio Castro, and a Brad Coon double immediately brought Harrisburg back to a 3-2 manageable deficit. After a Tom Milone fielder's choice erased Coon at third, the Senators managed to take the lead in a big inning. Lombardozzi worked a walk, and  Josh Johnson singled on an 0-2 count to load the bases for Jesus Valdez with two outs. Valdez's clutch two-out single scored two more runs and a later passed ball scored Valdez to make it 5-3 Senators.

Given run support, Milone got back to business and showed why he's the ace of the staff. Milone struck out 7, including four of five batters at one point, and held the Curve scoreless the rest of the way before getting pulled with two outs and a man on first in the bottom of the 6th due to his pitch count. Lefty  Victor Garate, acquired in the Belliard trade last year, immediately shut the door with a strike out and was pinch hit for leading off the next inning. (What no Riggleman double switch? How will Knorr ever get to DC?) Two innings of shutout relief from Hassan Pena held the score at 5-3 heading into the top of the eighth. Three singles and a strikeout set up a bases loaded one out situation for Stephen Lombardozzi. Lombardozzi doubled down the line and the rout was on. Harrisburg scored a total of five runs in the 8th inning before the Senators held on to beat Altoona 10-5.

Potomac summary, links, and player performances after the jump:

Potomac decided to reward staff ace Danny Rosenbaum for his late season run by coming out like gangbusters in their Mills Cup Playoffs debut. Having already built a 1-0 lead on a Sean Rooney RBI single, Potomac seemingly blew the game open with a grandslam by midseason free agent Jamar Walton that plated Norris, Moore, and Rooney to make it 5-0. Another HR by Robert Jacobsen gave them a 6-0 lead, and a later two out error by Frederick scored two runs to build the lead to 8-0 in an inning in which Potomac sent 13 men to the plate. With Rosenbaum on the hill, all P-Nats fans who made the trip to Frederick expected Potomac to cruise after an 8-0 first inning lead.

Rosenbaum proceeded to give back most of that lead immediately. Frederick scored seven runs in the bottom of the first with the crucial blow being a two out grand slam from number nine hitter and catcher Brian Ward. At the end of the first Frederick had scored seven runs, sent ten men to the plate and closed the deficit to an 8-7 score. 

Potomac's bullpen fought hard the rest of the way. Pat Lehman gave up an unearned run in the second after a Tyler Moore error and an unearned run in the fifth after an error by Jamar Walton in the fifth to make the score 9-8 Frederick. Heading into the top of the 9th, things looked grim against Will Startup who had already retired two P-Nats in dominating fashion. All was not lost. Derek Norris lead off the 9th with a solo HR that tied things up at 9-9 and seemed to give the P-Nats all the momentum. Sadly, Startup retired the next three batters without incident.

Bad defense gave Frederick the lead earlier and bad defense ultimately gave Frederick the win. First, Bill Rhinehart was playing inexplicably deep in rightfield against a weak hitting righthanded LJ Hoes who promptly dumped a single in front of him. Then, (Editor's note 6:06PM)  Joe Testa inexplicably threw a sacrifice bunt into right field and Hoes came around to score after Tyler Moore made a throwing error backing up the play for a Tyler Moore's three base three base throwing error led to a walkoff 10-9 Frederick win over the P-Nats. The DC and P-Nats Faithful can only hope that this demoralizing loss does not doom the P-Nats to an early exit from the Mills Cup playoffs.

AA Harrisburg:

  • Tom Milone, LSP: 5.2IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 7K, 2R HR
  • Victor Garate, LRP: .1IP, 0H, 0R, K
  • Hassan Pena, RRP: (H, 1) 2IP, 1H, 0R, BB, K
  • Stephen Lombardozzi, 2B: 1-4, R, RBI, 2BB, K, fielding error
  • Josh Johnson, SS: 1-4, 2R, BB, 2K
  • Jesus Valdez, LF: 2-5, R, 3RBI
  • Chris Marrero, 1B: 1-4, RBI, BB, 2K
  • Michael Burgess, RF: 0-3, R, BB; double switched out for Baez
  • Edgardo Baez, RF: 1-1, R, RBI, HBP
  • Ofilio Castro, 3B: 3-5, R, K, fielding error

High A Potomac:

  • Danny Rosenbaum, LSP: 1IP, 4H, 7ER, 2BB, 2K, grand slam HR
  • Pat Lehman, RRP: 3.1IP, 5H, 2R, 0ER, 0BB, 6K
  • Carlos Martinez, RSP: 2.1IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, K
  • Joe Testa, LRP: (L, 0-1) 1.1IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, K
  • Derek Norris, C: 2-3, 2R, RBI, HR, 2BB, K, threw out runner stealing
  • Bill Rhinehart, RF: 0-5, K
  • Tyler Moore, 1B: 1-4, R, BB, K, fielding error, throwing error
  • Jamar Walton, LF: 1-4, R, 4RBI, grandslam HR, fielding error
  • Robert Jacobsen, 3B: 1-3, R, RBI, HR