The seventh inning was unkind to the Potomac Nationals, as the Myrtle Beach Pelicans swooped on a tiring Evan Bronson and two relievers for a six-run inning en route to a 7-4 win.
As annoying as Rob Dibble may be to some folks, his mantra of putting up a goose egg after the offense gets some runs is absolutely correct. Twice last night the P-Nats took the lead, and twice the Pelicans answered the first chance they got.
It’s especially important to do this when the offense is, to be kind, inconsistent. For the second time in as many nights, Potomac’s first six batters went down in order. On Thursday, they broke through with a bunt single in the third; On Friday, it was an opposite field chalk-eater off the bat of Chris Curran in the fourth that got things started.
Steve Lombardozzi sacrificed Curran to third and Derek Norris lofted a flyball to center to score him for Potomac’s early 1-0 lead.
Former P-Nat Dan Nelson led off the fifth with a double to left that Bill Rhinehart nearly misplayed into a leadoff triple. After Bronson struck out Samuel Sime for the first out, Nelson took third on a grounder to, well, third and then came in on a two-out double from Cole Miles, who was offensive player of the night with three hits and stolen base.
Potomac regained the lead with a three-run rally in the sixth. After a Curran groundout, Lombardozzi reached first on a dribbler to second that was ruled a single, then stole second. Norris was caught looking. Rocket Wheeler curiously ordered an intentional walk of Mike Burgess and Tyler Moore made him pay with a line-drive single to left that scored Lombardozzi and sent Burgess to third. Castro threw wild to send Burgess home, Moore to second, then surrendered a double to Rhinehart to complete the three-run rally.
Potomac manager Gary Cathcart matched Wheeler’s decision-making prowess by sending out Bronson in the seventh, despite having warmed up a reliever in the previous inning. A leadoff walk wasn’t sign enough that Bronson was on empty either. After a seeing-eye single brought the tying run to the plate, Cathcart finally brought the hook.
Justin Phillabaum inherited two runners. He would pitch to four batters. Five of those six batters would score, as he uncorked a wild pitch, gave up a single, induced a grounder that went home to nail one runner, then gave up another single. A bloop double to very shallow right field ended Phillabaum’s night, the game now tied at 4-4.
A two-run double greeted lefty Patrick McCoy to put Myrtle Beach on top 6-4, and after a grounder to short, a two-out single capped the six-run rally. McCoy would finish the night admirably with two scoreless innings, but the Potomac offense couldn’t answer despite a bases-loaded threat in the seventh.
With the loss, Potomac drops to .500 in the second half. Trevor Holder (0-1, 2.61) takes mound in tonight’s series finale, opposed by the Pelicans’ Randall Delgado (2-5, 2.41).