The second half of the Potomac Cannons' season began last night much as the first half ended. The Winston-Salem Warthogs defeated Potomac, 7-2, in a Class A Carolina League game before 4,459 at Pfitzner Stadium.
Potomac, which lost 22 of its final 30 games to complete the first half with a 24-45 record, committed two errors with two outs in the fifth inning, and the Warthogs capitalized by scoring four runs. The four unearned runs erased both a 2-0 Cannons lead and a promising start by Potomac left-hander Robert Smith.
Through four innings, Smith (0-4) faced the minimum number of batters. He then walked Matt Berger with one out in the fifth, and Chris Heintz recorded the first Warthogs hit with a chopper over Smith's head. Smith walked Brian Manning and retired Kevin Connacher to set up the game's pivotal play.
With the bases loaded, shortstop Luis Suarez, who entered the game with a .083 average, hit a grounder through the legs of his Cannons counterpart, Jack Wilson. Two runs scored and the score was tied.
Dan Ramirez singled to left to score the go-ahead run. Suarez, running to third, kicked a relay throw out of Wilson's glove and raced home to give Winston-Salem a 4-2 lead.
Smith "got the ground ball [we needed] out there. The ball just stayed down," Potomac Manager Joe Cunningham said. "We make a couple plays out there and it [stays] 2-0."
Despite the errors, Cunningham said he believes the additions of Wilson at shortstop and Jason Lee in center, both called up from Peoria during the recent all-star break, will help the team.
"I think in the long run, we'll be a better overall defensive team with those guys out there," Cunningham said.
Connacher's bases-clearing double in the sixth finished Smith's evening. Despite his winless record since he was called up from Peoria, Smith (2.97 ERA) has been the Cannons' most effective starting pitcher over the last month. Including last night's loss, Potomac has scored seven runs in his five starts.
The Cannons used a wild pitch, two errors, a stolen base, two walks and an infield single by Brad Freeman to score two runs off starter Jason Lakman (7-2) in the second. Lakman struck out nine in seven innings.
* KEYS 13, BLUE ROCKS 5: Frederick scored eight runs in the sixth inning, and Ivanon Coffie had three hits and four RBI as the Keys defeated host Wilmington in the Carolina League second-half opener for both teams. Roberto Rivera had four hits for Frederick.
* SEA DOGS 8, BAYSOX 7: Relief pitcher Scott Eibey came in with three men on base and committed three mistakes that resulted in three runs as Portland rallied to defeat visiting Bowie in an Eastern League game.
Eibey allowed two runs on wild pitches and one scored on a passed ball. Tom Hage, Wady Almonte and Johnny Isom homered for Bowie.
Box scores on Page D9