Late homer lifts Potomac Nationals over Myrtle Beach Pelicans


By Mason Robinson

WOODBRIDGE, VA Sept. 3, 2015 – A three-run home run was the difference in the series finale between the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, and the Potomac Nationals at G. Richard Pfitzner Stadium on Thursday night. Nationals first baseman Grant DeBruin led Potomac to a 4-2 win, and a series victory, with a go-ahead home run over the left field wall in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Duane Underwood Jr. allowed just one earned run in five innings of work on Thursday. In his second start since returning from the disabled list on August 28, he walked three while also collecting three strikeouts. (Larry Kave / Myrtle Beach Pelicans)

Duane Underwood Jr. allowed just one earned run in five innings of work on Thursday. In his second start since returning from the disabled list on August 28, he walked three while also collecting three strikeouts. (Larry Kave / Myrtle Beach Pelicans)

The Pelicans (78-55, 37-27 second half) were the first to score on Thursday, giving starter Duane Underwood Jr. some early run support in the top of the first. Three consecutive singles loaded the bases against Nationals starter Matthew Spann, and Victor Caratini bounced into a double play that put the Birds in front, 1-0. Spann fanned the next batter to end the frame, and he went on to strike out the side in the top of the second inning.


The Nationals (64-71, 31-34 second half) bounced back to tie the contest in the home-half of the third. A leadoff walk, a single to center field, and a hit batter loaded the bases with no one out, and left fielder Alec Keller tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI sacrifice fly to center field. Underwood Jr. induced two more fly outs to work out of the inning.


The Pelicans would respond in the fourth inning. Ben Carhart led off with a walk and a single up the middle followed by a ground ball double play that moved him to third base. With two outs and Shawon Dunston Jr. at the plate, Carhart scored on a wild pitch to shift the Pelicans back in front, 2-1.


In all, Underwood Jr. allowed just one run, earned, across five innings of work in his second start since being activated off the 7-day disabled list on August 28. The right-hander finished with three strikeouts and allowed three walks along with three singles. He left in line for the win but took no decision.


Left-hander Tyler Ihrig relieved Underwood Jr. on the hill and worked a scoreless sixth before the P-Nats rallied to take the lead in the seventh.


Catcher Zach Wright led off with a single, and two batters later, Rafael Bautista hit into a fielder’s choice, and Wright was ruled safe at second, beating the throw from Gleyber Torers. A wild pitch then moved both runners into scoring position. Keller then followed with ground ball to shortstop, where Torres cut down Wright at the plate on a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning. With runners on the corners, DeBruin then stepped to the plate, and, in a 1-1 count, he homered deep to left field to put Potomac back in front for good, 4-2.


Justin Thomas, who pitched a scoreless seventh, retired the side in order in the eighth. Hard-throwing right-hander Philips Valdez pitched a perfect ninth by striking out the side to cap off his fifth save of the year.


Ihrig (0-1) was saddled with his first blown save and first loss of the season. He finished with two innings of work, allowing three runs, all earned, on three hits while striking out two and walking none.


In two shutout innings from the bullpen, Thomas (1-6) picked up his first win. He allowed one hit while fanning two.


The Pelicans wrap up their regular season with five games in four days against the Wilmington Blue Rocks beginning Friday. Right-hander Brad Markey (6-0, 1.31) will start the series opener for the Pelicans, and the Blue Rocks hand the ball to lefty Matthew Strahm (1-5, 2.86). The first pitch from Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, Delaware, is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.


The game can be heard live on 1450 WRNN-AM ESPN Myrtle Beach, on the TuneIn Radio App, and via the MiLB First Pitch App, beginning with the Pregame Show at 6:45 p.m. ET. Click here for a current schedule of the Pelicans final regular season games.


The 2015 season marks the 17th season for the Pelicans franchise and first as the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. For information on tickets to see the Pelicans in 2015, please call (843) 918-6000, e-mail, or visit


About the Pelicans

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans are the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs and play their home games at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The park has ranked in the top four in all of Minor League Baseball by Stadium Journey in each of the last four seasons. The same publication also placed the Pelicans in the Top 100 Stadium Experiences in all of sports in each of the last four years and the best in the Carolina League for four straight seasons as well. In May 2015, TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark won the 2015 Certificate of Excellence award. The Pelicans earned co-Mills Cup championship honors in their inaugural 1999 season, won the outright title in 2000, and has made eight postseason appearances behind eleven half-season Southern Division championships, including this year’s first half, as well as four Southern Division titles, most recently this past season. For more information on the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, please contact Nathan Barnett by calling (843) 918-6080 or emailing or Mason Robinson at