Manassas Journal Messenger | Rocks serve up a sixer

By Dan Clendaniel

For the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger

WOODBRIDGE — Wilmington helped continue the Cannons on their recent tailspin, sending Potomac to their sixth-straight loss, 7-4, before 3,000 fans at Pfitzner Stadium Tuesday afternoon.

The Blue Rocks scored three runs in the final two innings to break a 4-4 tie and make a loser of Potomac reliever Kyle Edens (0-5).

“We’re in a rut,” said Cannons manager Jayhawk Owens. “We’re still in the race but we have to change things quickly before it gets away from us.”

The Cannons, in losing for the eighth time in their last 11 games, dropped to 16-19 for the second half in the Northern Division of the Carolina League, but are still only four games behind first-place Frederick (20-15).

Both teams sent starting pitchers to the mound who were looking for their first win in July. Neither Potomac’s Clayton Andrews nor the Blue Rocks’ Kyle Middleton were around for the decision, but both made improvements on recent starts.

Andrews carried a 2-1 lead into the sixth inning, thanks in part to a leaping catch at the right field wall one inning earlier by Junior Ruiz that helped keep Wilmington from a big inning.

But in the Blue Rocks’ sixth, Andrews allowed the first three batters to reach base before giving way to Edens. Umpiring came into question in this inning. Andrews gave the home plate umpire a stern stare while he was being relieved by Edens, feeling he was the victim of a tight strike zone. The base umpire then caught Owens’ attention for a safe call at first base on an attempted home-to-first double play by the Cannons that resulted in just one out.

The Blue Rocks went on to score three runs in the inning after that call.

“It was not that obvious of a call,” said Owens later, preferring to look at the larger picture of the game. “Most games don’t center on one call or one play. It’s nine innings.”

Trailing, 4-2, Potomac mounted a comeback in their half of the seventh inning with two runs to tie the score. The runs came home on singles by Chris Denorfia and Brad Correll, who drove home his first run as a Cannon after a recent reassignment from AA Chattanooga.

But Wilmington’s Chris Fallon led off the Blue Rocks’ eighth with a double against Edens, and the visitors went on to score twice and take the lead for good.

Meanwhile, the Cannons got just a single by shortstop Jeff Bannon over the last two innings against Wilmington relievers Robbie Morrison (4-1) and Mike Natale.

“Our bullpen has done a good job all year long,” said Wilmington manager Billy Gardner, Jr. “The game was back-and-forth and we stayed after it.”

Potomac will host Wilmington in a doubleheader this evening beginning at 6:05 p.m. Potomac will send Bobby Basham (0-0) and Jan Granado (3-2) to the mound to face Chris Tierney (3-9) and Zach McClellan (5-6). Basham, a Franklin County High School graduate, will make his first start for the Cannons after recently joining the team from Chattanooga.

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