Improbable finish puts P-Nats a win away

Solano's bomb, Burgess' patience has Potomac eyeing first Cup in 19 years

The P-Nats celebrate at first base as Michael Burgess drew the walk-off walk. (Susanna Hall)

By Anthony Oppermann / Potomac Nationals | September 11, 2008 8:01 PM ET

WOODBRIDGE, Va..- In what as been an improbable season, the Potomac Nationals pulled one more rabbit out of their hats as the club rallied from three down with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and won it in the tenth 8-7 to come within one win of claiming the Mills Cup.

Game 3 of the best-of-five series was a see-saw contest with emotion and momentum picking neither side, switching back and forth between dugouts all night.

Yet somehow, the Potomac Nationals, who won on a wild pitch in Game 1 of the Northern Division Championship Series in 15 innings and a night later on a RBI single in Game 2 in 10 innings, found another way to win. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Michael Burgess, who struck out over once every three at-bats with Low-A Hagerstown, took a 3-1 pitch from right-hander Brett Butts (0-1) to drive in the winning run with as Dee Brown scored on the walk-off walk.

Pinch hitter Boomer Whiting and Burgess both drew walks against left-hander Tyler Wilson, who would soon be replaced by Ferdin Tejeda, in the bottom of the ninth. After a strikeout of Stephen King, Jhonatan Solano helped put the P-Nats in position to win it in extra innings as the catcher launched the first pitch from Tejeda over the left field fence for a three-run homer to tie the game 7-7.

The Nationals took the early lead in the bottom of the first as Andrew Lefave drove in a pair of runs with a single up the middle.

The Pelicans, though, answered in the top of the third as Potomac starter Ross Detwiler issued a two-out walk to Phillip Britton and then allowed back-to-back doubles to Gorkys Hernandez and Willie Cabrera with the Cabrera's driving in a two runs to even the score 2-2.

Michael Martinez, who hit his first home run of the season against Myrtle Beach starter Ryne Reynoso back on May 14, took the right-hander deep again, this time with a runner aboard in the bottom of the third giving the P-Nats a 4-2 lead.

The Pelicans would tie the game again in the top of the fifth inning as league RBI leader Ernesto Mejia stroked a two-out, two-run single off of Detwiler to center field with the bases loaded to even things up 4-4.

An inning later, Myrtle Beach would take its first lead, 6-4, as reliever Dan Leatherman allowed the go-ahead run to score on a Britton RBI groundout to second and an insurance run on a Hernandez RBI double to left-center field. Brandon Hicks then added a solo homer with one out in the top of the eighth inning off of right-hander Clint Everts, who had struck out the first five batters he faced, to make it 7-4 Pelicans.

Detwiler finished by tossing 4 2/3 innings getting charged with four runs, all earned, on four hits while matching a career-high nine strikeouts and issuing three walks.

The P-Nats will try and win the Mills Cup for the first time since 1989 on Friday night as right-hander Erik Arnesen (0-0) gets the start opposite left-hander Cole Rohrbaugh (1-0). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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