From the Myrtle Beach Pelicans
WOODBRIDGE, VA – For having the worst record in the Carolina League over the past two seasons, the Pelicans had not felt the disappointment of a series sweep in their resurgent 2010 campaign since late May. On a Sunday afternoon at Pfitzner Stadium, a Murphy's Law contest conspired to hand the brooms to the Potomac Nationals and brush the Pelicans out of town with three losses in three tries.
Michael Burgess scored a controversial game-tying run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Nationals rallied from their second deficit of the afternoon affair, and Jose Lozada connected with a two-run walk off homer in the bottom of the tenth to send the first-place Nats to a 7-5 Sunday victory and a sweep of the three-game set in Virginia.
The last time the Pelicans were swept this season, it was on the most tumultuous weekend of the year. On the day three 50-game suspensions of Myrtle Beach players were announced, May 21, the Birds lost the first of an eventual three-game road sweep at the hands of the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Since then, Myrtle Beach had battled in series after series. The Potomac Nationals, however, have been a different animal.
Potomac's seventh victory in eight tries against the Pelicans started just like the last two nights: with a Tyler Moore homer. The Carolina League home run leader smacked his tenth jack of the year against Myrtle Beach and 24th overall to stake his team to a 1-0 lead leading off the second inning.
After Pelicans starter Matt Crim got into a groove, however, his offense turned in its support. The Pelicans plated four runs in the top of the fourth inning, taking the lead on a two-run homer by Gerry Rodriguez and adding two more on an RBI single by Cody Johnson and a bases-loaded walk issued to Mycal Jones. The 4-1 lead, the Pelicans' first since the first inning of the series opener Friday night, wouldn't hold.
Two innings later, the Nationals rallied. With the first two men aboard and two outs, the latter a strikeout of Pelicans killer Moore, Sean Rooney hit a wall-scraping homer that just crossed the left field fence, his first of the season at any of three levels, to knot the game at four.
The Pelicans rebounded immediately, with back-to-back eighth-inning doubles by Cole Miles and Gerry Rodriguez wrestling the lead back at 5-4. Then came the fireworks.
In the bottom of the eighth inning with leadoff man Michael Burgess aboard on a walk, Rooney drove a double down the right field line. Pelicans outfielder Luis Sumoza hit cutoff man Mike Jones with a throw, and Jones's relay seemed to clearly beat Burgess to the plate. When Myrtle Beach catcher Braeden Schlehuber applied the tag, however, home plate umpire Tyler Wilson ruled Burgess safe, sparking a tirade from Pelicans manager Rocket Wheeler. The Myrtle Beach skipper was ejected, and the Nationals carried new life.
In the tenth, it was over. With two outs and a man on, light-hitting infielder Jose Lozada cracked his fifth home run of the season to send both his dugout and the announced 1,575 in attendance into delirium. The walk-off shot gave Potomac a 7-5 victory.
Pelicans reliever Luis Avilan (2-3), who allowed Burgess's run in the eighth and Lozada's homer, took the loss in his third inning of work. Potomac righty Ryan Wort (1-0) picked up the victory in his Carolina League debut by blanking the Pelicans in the ninth and tenth.
The Pelicans head to Lynchburg for the back series of their second-to-last road trip of 2010. First pitch for game one of four with the Hillcats is set for 7:05 Monday morning at Lynchburg City Stadium.
The Pelicans return to Myrtle Beach for a six-game, seven-day homestand on Friday, August 20 against the Kinston Indians. For tickets, contact the Pelicans box office at (843)918-6000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (843)918-6000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, (877)918-TIXX or stop by BB&T Coastal Field.