With 25 professional games under his belt, most days present Drew Mendoza new opportunities for his Minor League “firsts.” He checked a pair off that list on Wednesday.
The Nationals’ No. 7 prospect singled home the winning run in the ninth inning with his career-high fourth hit to give Class A Hagerstown its seventh consecutive win, 5-4 over Rome at Municipal Stadium.
After the Braves tied the game in the top of the ninth, Mendoza grounded a 1-0 pitch into right field off Gabriel Noguera that scored Armond Upshaw with the winning run.
The Florida State product began his big night with an RBI single to center in the opening frame. He dropped his second base hit into left an inning later and lined out in the fifth. Mendoza singled to right and scored in the seventh before his two-out heroics in the ninth.
Selected in the third round of last month’s Draft, Mendoza has hit safely in 21 of 25 games to begin his career, including 15 of his last 16. The 21-year-old is batting .313/.404/.414 with eight extra-base hits and 15 RBIs — with 11 coming in his last 11 games, including a career-high five on Friday against Columbia.
That production comes on the heels of a standout junior season with the Seminoles, for whom Mendoza hit .303/.478/.595 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs in 55 games as team captain.
Jacob Rhinesmith matched Mendoza with two RBIs, while Upshaw and Jackson Cluff had two hits apiece for Hagerstown.
Ryan Williamson (3-0) allowed one run and scattered five hits over three innings for the win. He struck out two and did not issue a walk.
Rome’s Justin Dean led off the game with a homer, then tied it at 4-4 with a two-out RBI single in the ninth. The Braves’ No. 24 prospect went 3-for-4 and registered his South Atlantic League-leading 32nd stolen base.
Noguera (4-5) was charged with three runs, five hits and a walk with two punchouts in 3 2/3 frames.
Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.