(WOODBRIDGE, VA) The Potomac Nationals and Wilmington Blue Rocks split a Fourth of July Doubleheader on Monday at Pfitzner Stadium. The Nationals rode a stirring comeback to a 7-4 win in Game One - which was the completion of Sunday's suspended game - but dropped the nightcap 4-1 to a solid Noel Arguelles. With the split, Potomac sits at 6-6 in the second half and sets up a chance to win the series with a win in Tuesday's finale.
The clubs resumed the rain-suspended game at 5 P.M., and both offenses were languid early. Trailing 4-2 in the eighth inning, however, Potomac came to life. The Blue Rocks, who scored three runs in the first inning Sunday - two of them on John Whittleman's home run to right - sent left-handed reliever Ryan Dennick to the mound to pitch the eighth.
He yielded a leadoff single to Destin Hood, then a game-tying home run off the bat of Justin Bloxom. He then walked Steven Souza, who moved to second base on Sandy Leon's sacrifice bunt. J.P. Ramirez then broke the tie with a single to right field, his second hit of the game that made it 5-4. J.R. Higley provided some padding with a home run to left that pushed the score to 7-4. Hector Nelo pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save.
In the nightcap, Potomac took an early lead off Arguelles. In the second, consecutive hits from Brian Peacock and Ramirez made for a promising start. Higley then bounced a ball to third that was turned into a double play. But Jose Lozada hit a double off the wall in left to stake Potomac to a 1-0 lead.
Adam Olbrychowski made his fourth start for the Nats, and was sharp early. He held the Blue Rocks in check for four innings but ran into a wall in the fifth. A leadoff single by Kurt Mertins sparked a rally; he moved to second when Jose Bonilla grounded out to Olbrychowski. Joey Lewis then singled to right to put runners at the corners with one away and bring Gerard Hall to the plate. Hall hit a line drive to left field that literally landed on the line for a double that scored both runners and pushed the Rocks ahead. Hall scored when Whit Merrifield singled to right, and the Rocks led 3-1.
Arguelles retired eight of the last nine Nationals hitters he faced; Ramirez's single to right in the fourth inning was the lone blemish. The Rocks got an insurance run with John Whittleman's massive home run to right field that opened the sixth. Brian Paukovitz then pitched a perfect sixth and seventh for his third save.
Sammy Solis makes his Carolina League debut for Potomac on Tuesday night as the Nationals seek a series win at 7:05 P.M.