Potomac got some power from an unlikely source and a solid effort on the mound to top Myrtle Beach 7-4 on Wednesday at TicketReurn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
The Nationals’ Blake Schwartz (1-0, 2.70) outdueled Pelicans starter Sam Wolff to earn the victory. Schwartz gave up just two hits – a homer and single both by Jorge Alfaro – and struck out two with no walks over five innings to earn his first victory with the Nationals.
Wolff (7-4, 2.94) gave up seven hits and five runs over six innings of work despite striking out six and walking one with one wild pitch.
Mike McQuillan, a .217 hitter, hit his first home run of the season, a three-run shot to left field that drove in Stephen Perez and Randolph Oduber to give the Nationals at 5-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning.
The game was a matchup between the Carolina League’s first half division winners.
Myrtle Beach (48-27, 4-3 second half) got off to a fast start when leadoff hitter Jorge Alfaro stroked his ninth home run of the season in the bottom of the first inning.
Potomac’s Justin Miller led off the top of the third with a double down the left field line, then went to third on an Estarlin Martinez single before scoring on a wild pitch.
Martinez took third on Tony Renda’s chopper to short, then scored on the play when Pelicans first baseman Kevin Torres mishandled the throw from Nick Vickerson to put the Nationals ahead 2-1.
McQuillan’s three-run homer in the sixth stretched the Potomac (42-32, 5-1) lead to four runs, and the Nationals added a run in the top of the seventh when Pedro Severino walked, then scored on a Tony Renda double.
After a Nick Vickerson groundout and walks of Myrtle Beach’s Nick Williams and David Lyon bookended a Christopher Bostick fly out, Kevin Torres added a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to drive in Nick Williams for another Pelicans run, but Lyon was tagged out trying to reach third to end the inning.
Alfaro was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the eight and reached third on a double to left by designated Hanser Alberto, then Preston Beck was walked by reliever Ian Dickson to load the bases with one out.
Dickson was lifted in favor of Richie Mirowski, who was called for a balk as he tossed a third strike against Vickerson. The balk brought home Alfaro to cut the lead to 6-3.
Mirowski followed that with a wild pitch that allowed Alberto to score, leaving Beck at third and the potential game-tying run at home in Williams, but Williams went down swinging to end the threat.
Renda added his second RBI-double of the night in the top of the ninth to score Martinez to push the Potomac lead to 7-4.
Alberto was 2-for-4 in the game and Alfaro was 2-for-3 with a two runs.
Perez was 2-for-5 and Renda was 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles to lift his average to .307.
Mirowski earned the hold and Gilberto Mendez (5) earned the save with a hitless ninth.
Game 2 of the three-game series is Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Lefthander Andrew Faulkner (4-1, 2.69 ERA) is scheduled to make the start for Myrtle Beach against Potomac lefty Matt Spann (5-1, 3.40).