Despite Loss, McCarthy Provides Fireworks on the 4th

PC: Jordan Georgeson

On America’s birthday, the 21-12 Lincoln Potters took on the 11-16 Bay Area Admirals at McBean Park amidst a four-game winning streak. While the Potters have been hot, three of the four wins came against non-league opponents, who they have an 11-2 record against this season. Since their reconception in 2017, the Potters are also undefeated in games on the 4th of July. 

Looking to keep up the strong play against a CCL opponent, the Potters looked to JoJo Villareal (Texas Southern University) to make his second start of the season. In eight prior innings, Villareal had struck out nine and maintained a 2.25 ERA. 

In the bottom of the first inning, with Luke Odden (Georgia Southern University) on first base, Nolan McCarthy (University of Kentucky) stepped up to the plate for the first time this Summer in Lincoln. The Potter legend from past years got a late start to this season after spending some time with the High Point-Thomasville HiToms in the Coastal Plains League. He proceeded to power an 0-2 curveball well out of the reach of the Admirals’ left fielder who climbed to the very top of the leftfield fence at McBean Park. McCarthy’s new Summer teammates tossed him an American flag while he rounded the bases and the 4th of July Lincoln crowd went nuts.

Now pitching with a lead, Villareal mowed down the second inning before running into trouble in the third. Four of the first five batters that inning reached base before Craig Schmich (Minot State University) eventually relieved Villareal. A game-tying second run was scored on a fielder’s choice before Schmich got out of the inning.

The Admirals went back to work in the fourth. After Schmich walked a batter to lead off the inning, some old friends of the Potters got their revenge. Jack Grant (University of Arizona) and Brock Rudy (University of Hawaii) were each on the Potters’ roster earlier this season but were now playing for the Admirals. Grant doubled and Rudy hit a home run to take a 5-2 lead. Sebastian Kirchner (University of New Mexico) relieved Schmich but not before the Admirals scored five runs on four hits and three errors in the inning.

After the nightmare top of the fourth inning concluded, Nolan Wilson (University of Nevada) got the Potters back on the board, driving in Nolan McCarthy who reached base with his second extra-base hit of the game in as many at-bats. 

Arthur Steinkamp (UC Riverside) relieved Kirchner in the fifth and took care of business, striking out two over two scoreless innings. Despite Steinkamp’s strong effort, the Potters still trailed by four in the top of the seventh when he was eventually replaced by Devin Marton (University of Nevada) making his tenth relief appearance this Summer. 

Marton picked up where Steinkamp left off with another strong inning. The Potters managed to draw a little closer in the bottom of the inning as well when Dominic Rodriguez (Delta College) scored on a fielder’s choice hit by none other than Nolan McCarthy. Still, the Potters trailed by a score of 7-4.

McCarthy’s college teammate, Jackson Nove (University of Kentucky) also made his Potters’ debut, taking the mound in the eighth inning. The 6’5 lefty reliever came alongside McCarthy from High Point-Thomasville to join the Potters. In 1⅓ innings, Nove struck out two and only allowed two baserunners. 

The Potters kept their foot on the pedal in the bottom of the eighth. Two key pinch-hit singles hit by Zach Chamizo (UC Riverside) and Luke Lavin (Stanford University) shortened the deficit, but the Potters stranded the tying run on second base. 

With three outs remaining to continue their streak of 4th of July wins, Nolan Wilson and Ben Higdon (University of Kentucky) each reached base in the ninth inning. Just one game after hitting a game-winning double, Zach Chamizo found himself at the plate with a chance to win it again. Unfortunately, he came up only about 30 feet short of the batter’s eye and the Potters were retired by the Bay Area Admirals. 

Despite the loss, the Potters had a lot to be positive about. The bullpen shut down the Admirals’ offense after the fourth inning and Nolan McCarthy put together one of the most impressive debuts imaginable. In their last home regular season game for almost two weeks, the Potters return to the Bean on Thursday for a rematch with the Bay Area Admirals.

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