The Potomac Cannons lost one of their most potent offensive threats to promotion last week when outfielder William Ortega was promoted to Double-A Arkansas.

Potomac's offense is already feeling the loss. Cannons outfielders have gone a combined 8 for 47 at the plate since Tuesday, the day Ortega was called up.

"His spot really can't be filled right now," Cannons Manager Joe Cunningham said. "We just don't have anybody who's as consistent."

Ortega, 24, had been Potomac's hottest hitter of late, and he left in the midst of a 20-game hitting streak during which he was hitting .447 with 15 runs batted in. He lifted his season average 31 points during the streak and was second in the Carolina League in hits and third in batting average.

Since joining Arkansas on the road, Ortega has continued his hot hitting, going 5 for 12 with three RBI. Ortega's departure leaves Cunningham with just three true outfielders, tying his hands in pinch hitting and running situations. Cunningham said Ortega's roster spot might not be filled with the season winding down.

"He was just a solid all-around player," Cunningham said. "He was a real consistent offensive threat and he was just as good in the field."

Ortega was promoted after former Cannons center fielder Todd Hogan was placed on the disabled list for the remainder of the season. Hogan broke his ankle chasing a ball in the outfield.

From Worst to First?

With a little more than two weeks left in the season, the Cannons are in last place in the Northern Division. But they are only 4 1/2 games out of first place with a four-game series at first-place Wilmington beginning Wednesday.

Despite an 11-inning, 7-6 loss Friday at Winston-Salem, the Cannons picked up a half-game when Wilmington was swept by Myrtle Beach, 8-4 and 3-2, in a doubleheader.

Potomac finished the first half of the season with a 24-45 record, the team's worst first half since moving to Prince William in 1984. According to the Carolina League office, six teams have gone from worst in the first half to first in the second half in 20 years, including the Cannons in 1989.

Former Cannon Released

Former Cannons pitcher Mario Opipari--perhaps best known for his black sports car with neon track lighting--recently was released by the St. Louis Cardinals organization after a brief stint at Triple-A Memphis.

Opipari started and pitched in relief for the Cannons at the beginning of this season and all of last season.