P-Nats take rubber game

After Eury Perez singled with two outs in the ninth inning of a tie game for his fourth hit of the afternoon, Jeff Kobernus picked a perfect time to break out of an 0-for-18 slump. His single to left field scored the speedy Perez all the way from first to cap a seesaw ballgame and send the Potomac Nationals (14-21) to a 5-4 win. With a win in their final at-bat for the second straight day, the P-Nats secured their second series win of 2011 in dramatic fashion.

Remarkably, Perez was not the only number nine hitter who went 4-for-4 on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Woodbridge. His Wilmington counterpart Deivy Batista also had four knocks in as many trips to the plate. Destin Hood continued his hot streak and he, too, was 4-for-4. All three played key roles in late-inning drama in front of 6,396 at Pfitzner Stadium.

When Hood hit a solo home run in the eighth for his fourth hit to make it 4-2, the game appeared well in hand – particularly with dominant closer Pat Lehman warming in the Nationals ‘pen. But the Rocks (19-16) scored a pair of runs with two outs to extend the game; Batista’s fourth hit of the day made it 4-3 before Whit Merrifield tied the game with a bloop single to left. Coming into the game, Lehman had allowed just one earned run on six hits in 13.2 innings.

Both teams scored a run in the opening inning. John Whittleman’s two-out double scored Whit Merrifield in the Rocks’ first; Steven Souza knocked in his team-leading 24th RBI on a sacrifice fly that scored Jose Lozada to level the score.

Perez’s first of three doubles in the third set the table for a tiebreaking rally. With two outs, Hood singled him home and Potomac led 2-1.

Potomac tacked on another in the fifth. With one out, Perez doubled again and moved to third on a wild pitch. Kobernus hit a grounder to third, but Batista threw home to nail Perez for the second out. Kobernus then stole second and scored on another Hood single.

Wilmington halved the P-Nats’ lead in the seventh. Josh Smoker, who worked out of a jam to end the sixth, walked the first two batters the following inning. Marcos Frias relieved him and got Joey Lewis to pop out. But Batista hit a single past Lozada at third to make it 3-2 Potomac.

Hood’s second homer of the season in the eighth inning capped off his perfect, three-RBI day and gave the Nationals an insurance run.

Potomac registered double-digit hits for the second straight game – they lashed 11 knocks on Sunday to continue their offensive resurgence. They look to keep the momentum going Monday night in Frederick against Major League rehabber Brian Matusz at 7:00 PM. Trevor Holder takes the mound for the P-Nats.

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