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P-Nats split two with Pelicans

The Potomac Nationals and Myrtle Beach Pelicans traded outstanding starts and split a doubleheader Monday night in Woodbridge. The Nationals took Game One 5-1 behind Cameron Selik’s complete game but dropped the nightcap 2-0 in an overpowering effort by Barret Loux. With the win in the finale, Myrtle Beach cut its magic number to three in the race for the Carolina League’s Southern Division first-half crown.

In Game One, Potomac stormed in front in the first inning. Jeff Kobernus got the first of four base hits he registered on the evening with one out in the opening inning. He scored on Destin Hood’s double to the wall in left; for Hood, it was his 21st double, the second most in the Carolina League and put the Nationals ahead 1-0.

Myrtle used a two-out rally in the second to tie the game against Selik. Vinny DiFazio doubled down the left field lied and knotted the score when Jared Hoying singled to right field.

Potomac (27-38) seized the lead for good in their half of the second inning. Sandy Leon opened the inning with a walk before J.R. Higley singled to right. Jose Lozada tried to bunt them over but Myrtle starter Justin Grimm barehanded and threw to third to retire Leon for the inning’s first out. Eury Perez then hit a grounder to short that was bobbled by Leury Garcia to load the bases. Jeff Kobernus then hit a laser to right that scored a pair of runs and made it 3-1 Potomac; Perez was thrown out at home on the play.

Selik then settled in and overpowered the Pelicans (37-28). He faced the minimum from the third to sixth innings. In the sixth, the Nationals got the righthander some insurance runs. Steven Souza led off with a double but stood at second with two outs after J.P. Ramirez and Leon were retired. Higley was hit by a pitch and Lozada was walked to bring Perez to the plate. Eury’s single to right plated a pair and pushed the Nats to a 5-1 edge.

Selik got into hot water in the seventh, loading the bases with a single a walk and a hit batter. But he got Jared Hoying to fly out to end the game and earn his second Potomac win.

Adam Olbrychowski got a spot start in Game Two, and he was extremely solid. He allowed just two earned runs on six hits – only one of which was well struck. The Pelicans scored both runs in the third inning, which involved a fair share of misfortune for the Nationals’ starter.

With one out, Leury Garcia hit a ball down the left field line that took a wild bounce off the Myrtle bullpen and turned into a triple. After Mitch Hilligoss was struck out, Ryan Strausborger hit a bouncer to short that was fielded by Jeff Kobernus, playing his first game at short. Strausborger beat the throw to drive in the first run. After a bloop single by Chris McGuinness, a high chopper by Zach Zaneski went no more than 40 feet from home plate but stayed fair, scored Strausborger and made it 2-0.

Barret Loux (6-3) was outstanding for five innings. He held the Nationals scoreless and allowed just one hit. He did walk three – all in the first inning – but struck out five and earned the victory.

Johan Yan came on to pitch the sixth and retired the Nationals in order – but he got into a real jam in the seventh. With one out, he walked Ramirez and gave up a double to Brian Peacock that put the tying runs in scoring position. But a strikeout of J.R. Higley and a groundout by pinch hitter Destin Hood ended the affair and completed the split in Woodbridge.

Wednesday morning at the Pfitz, a pair of outstanding lefties square off as Danny Rosenbaum matchs wits with Robbie Ross at 10:30 A.M.