P-Nats open second half with win

In a driving rainstorm that had settled in over BB&T Coastal Field, Hector Nelo struck out Jared Hoying to strand the winning runs on base and lock up a 6-5 P-Nats win in Myrtle Beach. In a game that was delayed 40 minutes because of heavy rains, the Nationals had one big inning and held on for a waterlogged win to open the second half of the Carolina League schedule.

In between the downpours, the Nationals (30-40, 1-0) had their biggest inning of the year. Six consecutive hits to open the third spurred a six-run outburst, the Nats’ biggest production in a single inning all season long.

Sandy Leon opened the frame with a double off Wilfredo Boscan, the Pelicans starter. J.R. Higley then singled; both scored when Cutter Dykstra hit a single to left field. Eury Perez doubled to score Dykstra and scored when Jose Lozada singled to right; Lozada moved to third on Jeff Kobernus’s double. With one out and an 0-2 count, Steven Souza roped a two-run single into center field to make it 6-1.

Myrtle Beach (40-30, 0-1) had taken the lead in the second – and it could have been larger were it not for Higley’s arm. After a one-out Jared Hoying double scored Vinny Difazio, Santiago Chirino singled to right field with two outs. Hoying tried to score from second and was gunned down by a perfect Higley throw to end the inning.

Adam Olbrychowski was solid over five innings; he allowed three runs on six hits and struck out a season-high seven. He did walk two and threw two wild pitches, but earned his second win of the season.

The Pelicans kept chipping away at the Nationals’ lead against a trio of bullpen arms, while the Myrtle ‘pen stymied the Potomac offense.

In the sixth, Souza’s throwing error allowed DiFazio to score and trim the lead to two, at 6-4. Joe Testa hit the first batter in both the seventh and eight innings, but worked around both. In the eight, he had a hand from Hector Nelo, who came on with one out and got a strikeout and groundout to end the threat.

As the eighth turned to the ninth innings, the rain really picked up. By the time Nelo took the mound for the last half inning, a downpour had caused the grounds crew to dump drying materials on the mound and area around home plate.

Through the driving rain, Nelo walked the leadoff man Leury Garcia. He then struck out Jared Prince, but Garcia, who had stolen second and third bases, scored on Chris McGuinness’s one-out single. Mitch Hilligoss then blooped a ball over the head of Justin Bloxom at third to put the winning run on base. Nelo then struck out DiFazio, at which point the grounds crew was again summoned to tend to the mound. After a furious dumping of dirt and drying agent, Nelo was allowed to continue. On his fifth pitch, he struck out Hoying to end the ballgame.

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