For eight innings, the Potomac lumber was in a slumber but awoke in the ninth for two runs. They needed three, and lost 4-3 to the first-place Wilmington Blue Rocks.
Nathan Karns was tagged with his second straight loss, giving up three runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings. And it could have been worse. Twice Wilmington ran into outs at home plate, the first coming in the 2nd inning when Nick Van Stratten attempted to score from second on groundout to short, the second when Van Stratten attempted to score from first on a one-out double to right-center in the 4th.
Karns had but one clean inning, and it didn’t come until the 5th. Much will be made of the 10 strikeouts, but more should be made of how hittable Karns was. Command and control are not the same thing, but poor command will often lead to fat fastballs and that’s what the Blue Rocks were feasting on last night.
Like too many pink drinks on Ladies Night, the Potomac offense made a big ugly look good. For seven innings, the aptly surnamed Brooks Pounders (6’4″, 270, 5.43ERA) held the P-Nats to just four hits and one unearned run, walking none and striking out five. The portly starboarder retired the last nine batters he faced, but did not appear to have overpowering stuff.
Matt Swynenberg followed Karns from the bullpen and turned in three solid innings of relief, with one run on two hits, no walks and three strikeouts. The lone mistake was a dropped third strike to lead off the 8th. A steal and a two-out single plated the extra runner for Wilmington’s fourth run and it turned out to be the difference.
Anthony Rendon started the 9th-inning rally with one out with a grounder steered between first and second with two strikes. Kevin Keyes followed suit with Rendon going to third. Ricky Hague sent Rendon in with a single to left. After a Jason Martinson strikeout, Jeff Howell drove in Keyes with a single to center and snuck into second on the relay throw trying to get Hague at third.
Stephen King, however, couldn’t cash in either runner and struck out to end the game.
The loss drops Potomac to 3½ games back in the Carolina League North. The P-Nats and Blue Rocks are scheduled to play tonight with Rob Gilliam (0-1, 7.04) facing off against Leondy Perez (3-4, 4.26).