By DAN CLENDANIEL
For the Potomac News & Manassas Journal Messenger
WOODBRIDGE — The Potomac Cannons looked as if they were well on their way to their ninth straight loss last night at Pfitzner Stadium, when, as Yogi Berra once said, it was deja vu all over again.
The result was a 10-7 win for Potomac in the first game of a four-game series against the Winston-Salem Warthogs. Winston-Salem had taken a 6-2 lead with six straight hits in the fourth inning after the first two Warthog batters had been retired.
Unbelievably, the Cannons duplicated that feat in their half of the fifth inning.
With two outs and nobody on base, the Cannons got six straight hits including a three-run homer by league-RBI leader Jesse Gutierrez. The outburst gave Potomac an 8-6 lead and the Cannons went on break their eight-game slide.
The comeback made a winner of Potomac starter Phil Dumatrait, who was making his Cannons’ debut. Dumatrait, a highly-touted prospect, was acquired by the Cincinnati organization this week as part of the deal that sent reliever Scott Williamson from the Reds to the Red Sox.
Dumatrait had been rated the fifth-best prospect in the Boston organization as well as the Bosox’ top pitching prospect. Dumatrait, who joined the Cannons one day earlier from Sarasota, looked to be everything he was advertised to be over the first 32/3 innings, limiting the visitors to one hit while striking out four.
But after the first two Warthogs’ batters were retired in the fourth, Winston-Salem struck for six straight hits that produced six runs for a 6-2 lead. Key blows in the inning were a three-run homer by Daylan Holt and a two-run triple by Normand Martel. Dumatrait left the gave after the fifth inning, the apparent loser as Winston-Salem starter Kris Honel appeared to be on his way to his ninth win.
Honel entered the game with a record of 8-5 and an ERA of 2.67. He had held the Cannons scoreless after giving up a two-run homer to Chris Denorfia in the first inning and appeared to be cruising.
But with two outs in their half of the fifth inning, the Cannons’ B.J. Hawes singled. Then William Bergolla singled and so did Denorfia (3 for 5, four RBI) to make the score 6-4.
But the Cannons’ rally was far from over. Brad Correll and Tony Blanco also singled and suddenly Potomac was back in the game, trailing 6-5. Gutierrez, the Cannons’ all-star catcher, reversed that deficit with a three-run homer that increased his league RBI lead to 74 and gave the Cannons an 8-6 lead that they never relinquished. It was Gutierrez team-high 15th homer of the season.
Reliever Todd Coffey maintained the Potomac lead by pitching three innings and yielding just one run. Nate Cotton retired the Warthogs in order in the ninth to record his 22nd save.
The Cannons host Winston-Salem this evening at 7:05 in the second game of the series. Edward Valdez (1-1) will take the mound for Potomac against Wyatt Allen (6-4).