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Spruill shines in opener as Pelicans split doubleheader with Nationals

Zeke Spruill showed why the Atlanta Braves thought he was worthy of a second-round draft pick, while Potomac’s Jason Jones was roughed up early in the Pelicans’ 6-1 win over the Nationals in Game 1 as Myrtle Beach split a doubleheader Saturday night at BB&T Coastal Field.

The Pelicans (47-65 overall, 21-21 second half) lost Game 2 4-3 as Aynor native Thomas Berryhill got a rude welcome from the Nationals (53-56, 22-17) in his first action for Myrtle Beach since being called up from low-A Rome on Aug. 4.

Spruill (2-2, 4.67), the Braves third pick and the 40th overall in the 2008 Major League Draft, won his second straight start, going all seven innings while scattering five hits with one earned run, five strikeouts and no walks.

Two of those hits came in the form of two-out singles in the top of the first and the third was a homer from Bill Rhinehart to lead off the fifth. Steve Lombardozzi doubled to lead off the sixth and Rhinehart singled in the seventh. Spruill got Potomac (52-56 overall, 21-17 second half) batters to ground out seven times and fly out eight times.

Spruill’s strategy was simple, “Pretty much just throw strikes and make them hit it,” he said.

It was Spruill’s seventh appearance and sixth start for the Pelicans since coming off a three-month stint on the disabled list with a broken handThe Nationals’ Jones (0-1, 0.00) didn’t fair nearly as well. The right hander who was pitching at Class AAA Syracuse earlier this season, continued to struggle, giving up seven hits with a walk and a strikeout over four innings in his first appearance for the Nationals.

The right hander came into the game having mired through the minors since being drafted by the Yankees in 2004. He spent 2009 with the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings after signing with the Twins organization, and went to the Washington Nationals as a free agent to start this season at Class AA Harrisburg. He earned a promotion to AAA Syracuse, but he posted a 1-5 record and an ERA over 8.00 before being sent down to Class A for the first time since 2006.

The rough outing didn’t hurt Jones’ ERA because all three runs given up in his tenure were unearned, starting when leadoff hitter Mycal Jones reached on a throwing error and went to second. A sac bunt from Cory Harrilchak sent Mycal Jones to third, and Dan Nelson’s sac hit scored him.Mike Jones and Jordan Kreke followed with singles before a Gerry Rodriguez single scored Mike Jones and Kreke came in on a Samuel Sime single to but the Pelicans ahead 3-0.

The Pelicans tacked on a run in the fifth when Clayton Dill replaced Jason Jones, then walked Mike Jones, who would go to second on a Kreke single and score on a Rodriguez single. Myrtle Beach scored a pair in the sixth, starting when L.V. Ware was hit by a pitch with two out, stole second, then scored on a Mycal Jones double. Mycal Jones went to third on a wild pitch from reliever Carlos Martinez and scored on a Harrilchak single to put Myrtle Beach up 6-1.

In all, five of the Pelicans’ six runs came with two outs.

“That’s key for us winning right now,” Myrtle Beach manager Rocket Wheeler said. “Outstanding game by Spruill and timely hitting. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Nationals scored first in Game 2 when Lomardozzi led off with a double, went to third on a Dan Lyons groundout and scored on a Tyler Moore sac fly.

Myrtle Beach answered in the bottom of the third when Luis Sumoza walked and went to third on a Braeden Schlehuber single, then scored on a fielder’s choice by Shawn McGill, and took the lead in the fifth when McGill singled and was replaced by pinch runner L.V. Ware. Ware went to second on a Cole Miles sac bunt and third on a wild pitch by Trevor Holder, who then intentionally walked Harrilchak.

Joe Testa replaced Holder and gave up a single to Nelson that scored Ware and a single by Mike Jones that brought in Harrilchak.

Berryhill, a fifth-round pick in 2009, came in the top of the sixth to replace Myrtle Beach starter Cory Rasmus and gave up back-to-back-to-back singles to Jose Lozada, Sean Rooney and Chris Curran, scoring Lozada. Nicholas Moresi’s sac bunt moved up Rooney and Curran and Berryhill intentionally walked Lombardozzi to load the bases, then let Rooney score on a wild pitch to tie the game. Sime saved a run on a Lyons fielder’s choice as he made the stabbing catch on the chopper and turned to nail Curran at the plate. Berryhill struck out Burgess to end the inning with the game tied at 3-3.

Myrtle Beach had a chance to retake the lead in the bottom half when Sumoza led off with a double and Schlehuber reached on a throwing error by Testa on a sac bunt that sent Sumoza to third. But L.V Ware and Rodgriguez both went down swinging before a fly out from Harrilchak ended the opportunity.

The Nationals took the lead for good in the top of the seventh when Tyler Moore drove his 21st homer of the season over the wall in left field.Berryhill was replaced by Chad Rogers after 1 2/3 innings. Berryhill took the loss, giving up three earned runs on four hits with a walk and a strikeout and an ERA of 16.20.

There was a little drama off the field as well Saturday night when the Myrtle Beach Fire Department responded to an electrical fire in a men’s bathroom in the concourse on the third-base side of the stadium that sent smoke floating over the field and fans scrambling up the bleachers to get a better look at the commotion. According to firefighters on the scene, no one was injured and the blaze was quickly extinguished.Thunderstorms that brought more than two inches of rain on Friday forced Saturday’s doubleheader, which started 30 minutes late because of more rain.

The final game of the four-game set is today at 6:05 p.m. Brett Oberholtzer (4-4, 4.54) will start on the mound for Myrtle Beach against Pat Lehman (3-2, 5.12) for Potomac. The Pelicans begin a four-game series with visiting Frederick on Monday.rick on Monday.

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