McFall Homers Twice, Powers Rocks to 6-3 Win
Woodbridge, VA - Anointed Player of the Week in the Carolina League earlier in the day, Brian McFall made an early bid to repeat the honor by powering two home runs in a 6-3 win over the Potomac Nationals at Pfitzner Stadium on Monday night. The first-place Blue Rocks rallied from a pair of deficits, plating the game's last four runs to take the opener of the three-game set against their second-place little brothers in the Northern Division standings. With the win, the Blue Crew rolled its record to 8-3 against the P-Nats this season, including a 4-0 ledger at the Pfitz.
Tied 3-3 in the eighth, Wilmington grabbed its first lead of the night on an RBI base hit by a Northern Virginia native, Jeremy Cleveland. Catcher Cody Clark started the inning with his fourth hit in four at-bats, a single up the middle against reliever Jack Spradlin (3-6). Brett Bigler dropped a sacrifice bunt that moved the backstop to second, allowing Cleveland's first-pitch swing to plate Clark for a 4-3 Wilmington lead. Cleveland is a native of nearby Fairfax Station, VA.
After David Humen (2-4) twirled a 1-2-3 eighth, McFall gave the Rocks some ninth-inning insurance. With one out, reliever David Trahan hit Brad McCann with a pitch to put the first baseman on. McFall followed with his second home run of the night, a line drive pulled out of the park to left for a 6-3 cushion.
Wilmington survived an odd ninth inning. After Rayner Oliveros allowed a hit and a walk to start the frame, the Venezuelan struck out Greg Thissen looking. Ian Desmond followed with a groundball to shortstop that was trapped by Mario Lisson, who flipped to second for one, but the relay to first was dropped by McCann. Confusion erupted over whether Desmond's batted ball was caught on the fly or trapped. After several minutes of conferencing between the umpires and managers, the original ruling was upheld and two runners remained on base with two outs.
Nationals prospect outfielder Justin Maxwell was the last man standing. And Oliveros promptly struck him out on three straight sliders away, getting a swing and a miss on the last offering for his fourth save of the season.
The win went to Humen (2-4), who tossed 1.2 innings of perfect relief with a pair of strikeouts. He stranded an inherited runner at second base in the second.
Starter Michael Penn went four innings, allowing three runs on nine hits. He walked none and struck out three. Prospect starter Blake Johnson, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, came out of the bullpen for 2.1 scoreless frames.
Game two of the three-game series will feature All-Star Julio Pimentel (7-4, 2.80) for Wilmington against fellow right-hander Marco Estrada (1-1, 6.66). First pitch will be at 7:35 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Cody Clark finished the game 4-for-5 with four singles and three runs scored.
Brian McFall went 2-for-5 at the plate with two home runs and three RBIs.
Jeremy Cleveland drove in two of Wilmington's six runs on the game. He collected a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning.
Rehabbing big leaguer Shawn Hill started for the Nationals, tossing three scoreless innings. Hill, who emerged as the ace of the Washington rotation earlier this season before suffering multiple injuries in mid-May, drew big league manager Manny Acta to the game to observe his rehab performance.
Before the game, the Carolina League announced Brian McFall as its Player of the Week (July 23-29). The 23-year-old hit .417 (10-for-24) with three doubles, a home run, 12 RBIs, two walks and two runs scored, slugging .677.
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Carolina League Stories from July 30, 2007
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