The Cannons prepped for their pivotal three-game series at Lynchburg by collecting seven singles and five walks as 15 batters came to the plate in one inning. In getting three outs, two Warthog right-handers combined to throw 77 pitches as the Pfitzner Stadium crowd watched the home team cast aside a four-run deficit with nine runs in the inning.
“There are not too many times when I’ll be coaching third base and want to call time to have someone bring me a bottled water,” joked Potomac manager Joe Cunningham of the team’s most productive inning of the season. “That was a luxury we had today that I was tickled with.”
In the game-turning inning, Winston-Salem starter Frank Francisco (0-1) allowed a single to Ryan Hamill before walking Johnny Hernandez and Al Rodgers. Following Dan Moylan’s RBI single and Milko Jaramillo’s two-RBI single, the Cannons were within 4-3 and Francisco was out of the game without retiring a hitter in the second inning.
Reliever Dario Ferrand, the Carolina League leader with 12 losses, only made matters worse for Winston-Salem (16-26 in the second half). With one out, Mark Burnett and Skip Schumaker each singled home a run. Billy Munoz added a single to the load the bases, setting up Hamill’s run-scoring walk, Hernandez’ sacrifice fly and Moylan’s two-run single.
In the inning, Moylan went 2 for 2 with three RBI. He went 3 for 4 in the game and second baseman Burnett had a 3-for-5 night. Burnett led off the eighth with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly from Schumaker. Each Cannon starter had at least one of the team’s 15 hits.
Winston-Salem had taken a 4-0 lead in the top of the first on Jason Aspito’s bases-loaded triple and Brett Caradonna’s RBI single. Both of those hits came with two outs after Cannon first baseman Munoz threw out Winston-Salem leadoff man Guillermo Reyes at the plate on a ground ball.
Despite the defensive play from Munoz and the catcher Moylan, who caught a short-hop throw and made the tag, Potomac starter Julio Villalon wasn’t quite able to wriggle out of trouble. After two were out, he hit Ryan Sienko with a pitch and walked Casey Rogowski to set up Aspito with a bases-loaded situation.
After falling behind 9-4, Winston-Salem pulled one run closer as Eric Welsh led off the third inning with a solo home run. Welsh entered Sunday’s action ranked third in the league in home runs with 18. His 19th blast was not enough to keep Winston-Salem from losing for the third time in this four-game series.
Villalon (1-1), a 24-year-old Costa Rican right-hander, recovered to pick up his first Carolina League victory. He gave up five runs but struck out six, including the last hitter in the fourth inning and all three in the fifth, in 5 2/3 innings.
“He started throwing inside more,” Moylan said. “He did have a little better command of his slider and his changeup, but I thought the real key for him was throwing inside.”
While Winston-Salem is mired in last place in the Southern Division this half, Potomac (22-19) continues to vie for the Northern Division’s second playoff spot. The Cannons trailed Lynchburg by one game prior to Sunday and begin a three-game road series with the Hillcats tonight.
Potomac, which has just 10 home games remaining in its final 29, will also play host to Lynchburg from Aug. 23-25.