Manassas Journal Messenger | Ejection then dejection

WOODBRIDGE – At the rate he was going, it’s amazing that umpire Stephen McMullen didn’t toss the Easter Bunny Sunday afternoon.

McMullen had his share of issues during the final two games of the weekend at Pfitzner Stadium, but apparently they were all with the Potomac Cannons.

Barely 15 hours after he ejected Potomac manager Jayhawk Owens following an argument at home plate, McMullen was at it again in the series finale – this time giving the heave ho to pitcher Brandon Culp following a disputed call at second base. Culp wasn’t active for the Cannons’ 7-4 loss to the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Sunday. He’d pitched the night before and that’s when all the trouble began.

McMullen took some grief during Wilmington’s doubleheader sweep on Saturday for what the Cannons perceived as a small strike zone. Emotions in the home dugout were also running high over a two-run double down the left field line by Ruben Gotay in the Blue Rocks’ nightcap victory – a hit that Owens thought should have been ruled foul.

The Cannons appeared to have a better cause to gripe on Sunday after William Bergolla was caught stealing for the first time in 13 attempts this season in the first inning. Bergolla slid in ahead of a shoulder tag by Wilmington shortstop Brett Groves, but was called out on the play.

After Owens argued briefly on the field, the Cannons started in from the dugout. McMullen didn’t want to hear any of it and Culp was ejected. Another frustrating loss did nothing to ease the tension in Potomac’s clubhouse. After RBI singles by Bergolla and Fernando Rios helped the Cannons build a 3-0 lead, lefty Ty Howington allowed it all to slip away.

Howington gave up five hits, including a game-tying two-run single to Darren Fenster with two outs in the fifth. He also issued a season-high five walks as the Cannons’ losing streak reached three games.

“I try to look at the positive for the development of the guys,” Owens said. “I don’t feel we’re in the tank yet. I’ve lost 10 in a row on a team before.

“All I want is for the intensity to remain,” he said. “Aggressive baseball is what I have to have.”

The Cannons were a bit too aggressive at times as two runners were picked off first base.

But those mental errors were overshadowed by some big Blue Rocks’ hits, two of them coming on homers by Scott Walter. Walter’s first home run of the season – a solo shot off Travis Thompson that cleared both sets of billboards in left field – broke a sixth-inning tie. He drove in two more runs with an identical blast off Brad Salmon in the eighth.

“He fouled off three or four before he hit that second homer,” Owens said. “You have to tip your hat. It was a good at-bat by him.”

Trey Dyson also had three hits for the Blue Rocks, who overcame four double plays to extend their winning streak to a season-high three games. Chris Denorfia, Bergolla, Jeff Bannon and Mike Calitri had two hits each for the Cannons.

Potomac (6-9) took a 1-0 lead in the third when Bergolla walked, swiped his 13th base and scored on a line-drive single by Rios. The Cannons came up with two more runs against Wilmington starter Brian Bass in the fourth on a Calitri double and base hits by Brian Peterson and Bergolla.

The Blue Rocks (8-7) did all the scoring from there until the ninth, when Calitri doubled again and came home on the last of three Blue Rocks’ errors.

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