Late homer lifts Potomac Nationals over Myrtle Beach

potomac nationals1B Grant DeBruin hammered a three-run home run off the third tier of signage in straight away left field to give the Nationals (64-71-Overall, 33-33-Home, 31-34-Second Half) an eventual rubber match 4-2 win over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (78-55-Overall, 39-37-Road, 37-27-Second Half) at Pfitzner Stadium on Thursday night.

After RHP Duane Underwood Jr. logged five innings for the Pelicans, LHP Tyler Irhig (0-1, 3.07) came in and in his second inning of work, the seventh, gave up the eventual game winner to 1B Grant Debruin. C Zach Wright extended his hitting streak to five games with a single. After SS David Masters lined out, CF Rafael Bautista reached on a fielder’s choice ball that saw Wright reach second base safely. A wild pitch by Irhig moved both runners up a bag and LF Alec Keller hit a ground ball to the SS Gleyber Torres who threw home and Wright was tagged out at the plate for the second out. With runners on first and third, up stepped DeBruin and he mashed his second home run of the season off the third tier of signage in left field, bringing home both Bautista and Keller for a 4-2 lead; the eventual final.

LHP Matthew Spann made the start for the Nationals and for his fourth consecutive start allowed at least one run in the first inning when Myrtle Beach’s 3B Chesny Young, the league’s top hitter, reached on an infield single. A Carolina League Post-Season All-Star, RF Mark Zagunis followed with a single and then 1B Ben Carhart singled to load the bases. DH Victor Caratini hit into his third double play of the series bringing home Young for an early 1-0 Pelicans lead.

The Nationals tied it 1-1 against Underwood Jr. in the bottom of the third when Wright worked a lead-off walk. Masters extended his hitting streak to a season high six games and Bautista was grazed on the brim of the helmet to load the bases. Keller knocked in his 17th run of the season with a fly ball to deep left field, bringing home Wright on the sacrifice fly for the game tying run.

The tie didn’t last long as Myrtle scored again a half inning later in the top of the fourth. It was Carhart who worked a lead-off walk. Caratini, the reigning Carolina League Player of the Week, singled. CF Jeffrey Baez hit into another twin killing that put a runner at third with two outs and Spann fired a wild pitch to bring home the go-ahead run in the form of Carhart for a 2-1 Pelican advantage.

Underwood Jr. pitched five innings and he departed in line for the win after throwing five innings and allowing one run (earned) on three hits, three walks and three strike outs.

Spann finished his six inning outing by retiring the final seven batters he faced to keep it a 2-1 lead for Myrtle Beach. The Colombia, TN native gave up two runs (earned) on four hits, two walks and he struck out five, throwing 98 pitches with 61 for strikes.

Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision in the ballgame.

LHP Justin Thomas (1-6, 3.56) entered for Spann and fired two scoreless innings, giving up one hit, a double, in the seventh and he recorded two strikeouts. Thomas, on the season, allowed one run (earned) in 13.2 innings on the mound against Myrtle and just three hits.

The lefty Irhig came on and he threw a scoreless first inning of work in the sixth before the big come-from-behind rally in the seventh, culminating in the DeBruin long ball.

RHP James Farris pitched a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts before RHP Phillips Valdez (SV 5) entered and struck out the side to ink his fifth save of the season, giving Thomas his first win of the season in relief.

Valdez in the ninth inning was the second time in the game that a Nationals pitcher struck out the side after Spann did it in a scoreless second frame.

The Nationals will end the season 5-13 against Myrtle Beach and they improve to 6-7 in rubber match ballgames with their second come-from-behind victory in the series; winning the finale 4-2.

The series opener tomorrow night at The Pfitz will feature RHP Jeff Howell (1-1, 2.45) for Potomac, the converted catcher, now knuckleballer will make his third start against LHP Trey Ball (8-3, 4.85) for Salem.

First pitch is set for 7:05 pm from Pfiztner Stadium and you can tune in starting at 6:50 pm with “The P-Nats Lead-Off Show.” You can listen live via the TuneIn Radio App or at www.potomacnationals.com.

Friday night at The Pfitz features give-a-way Rally Towels to the first 1,000 fans presented by My Plumber, Farmers Insurance and Ornery Beer Company. It’s also Back-To-School Night Back-To-School Drive presented by HomeAid Northern Virginia and Group Leader Appreciation Night and Kids Run The Bases presented by Glory Days Grill.



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