Blown call costs P-Nats

In the bottom of the 13th inning of a seesaw affair in Myrtle Beach, Eury Perez made a sensational diving catch in the left center field gap that appeared to send the game to another inning. But field umpire John Bacon ruled that Perez did not catch the ball, and in a wave of confusion, Leury Garcia sprinted home for the winning run. In-house replays later showed that Perez clearly caught the ball. The Nationals argued passionately on the field, Bacon conferred with home-plate umpire Asa Gaddy, but the call stood and the Pelicans were handed a 5-4 win.

The controversy overshadowed a wildly entertaining game that saw multiple lead changes, bizarre plays and missed opportunities. Rob Wort worked out of a self-created, bases-loaded jam in the tenth but surrendered the lead on a two-out single by Jared Bolden in the 11th. In the twelfth, Steven Souza appeared to give the Nats another lead, but his line drive headed for left field hit Jeff Kobernus, the runner at second, to end the inning.

Myrtle (41-30) took the early lead for the second straight night. In the first inning, back-to-back singles off Trevor Holder were cashed in by Chris McGuiness’s RBI ground ball. The Pelicans doubled their lead in the fourth: a leadoff double by Zach Zaneski became a run when Jared Hoying tripled to left and it was 2-0.

Potomac (30-41) tied the game in the fifth. Three straight hits keyed the rally, the first of which was a double by Souza. The first baseman had four hits on the night and scored the first Potomac run when Sandy Leon singled. J.P. Ramirez, who had reached on a ground-ball single to left, scored on J.R. Higley’s groundout.

The Nats surged ahead in the sixth inning. After consecutive one-out singles, Leon, again roped a base hit to center than scored Justin Bloxom and gave Potomac a 3-2 lead.

Bloxom’s glove helped Myrtle tie it in their half of the sixth. A leadoff error put Ryan Strausborger aboard and he scored on Mitch Hilligoss’s double to left off Josh Smoker, who had relieved Holder.

It would stay that way until the eleventh, which featured more clutch hitting from Higley and more controversy involving the umpires. After Souza led off with his third hit, Ramirez squared to bunt. Pelicans pitcher Joseph Ortiz tried to throw to second but zipped the ball into center field, and both runners were safe. Leon then laid down a bunt to third. Myrtle Beach put the wheel play on: Hilligoss charged, threw to a covering Garcia at third, who then tossed across to get Leon at first for a double play. Nats’ manager Matt LeCroy argued the call at third and was ejected from the game. On a 1-2 pitch with Ramirez at second, Higley delivered a hit to left that put Potomac ahead.

The two clubs will play the rubber match Saturday evening at 7:05 P.M. The broadcast can be heard beginning at 6:40.

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