The Myrtle Beach Pelicans let a 5-0 first-inning lead slip away, then squandered several chances to win the game before the Kinston Indians stunned the Birds with two runs in the 11th inning to take Game Two of the Southern Division Championship Series 8-6 to tie the best-of-five series at one. The Pelicans now must win two of three in Kinston to advance.
After Kinston came back from five runs down in the first inning, the game was tied at six in the third, but both bullpens dominated as that score held into the 11th. Righty Trevor Hurley was brilliant for Myrtle Beach from the eighth through the tenth, but with two on and one out, Kinston broke through against him in the 11th on a Jesus Aguilar single that scored Bo Greenwell. Casey Frawley added an insurance run with a single to make it 8-6 and All-Star closer Preston Guilmet put the Birds down 1-2-3 to close the win.
The Pelicans jumped all over starter Francisco Jimenez in the first. With two on and one out and Travis Adair at the plate, the lefty hurler began animatedly complaining about the mound, causing a seven-minute delay. Adair worked a walk and Mike Olt followed with a grounder that went through the legs of third baseman Adam Abraham, his second miscue of the inning, and two runs came in.
The next batter was Chris McGuiness and he went the other way down the left field line with a three-run homer to give Myrtle Beach a 5-0 lead. Jimenez lasted two thirds of an inning before being taken out; he allowed five unearned runs on three hits before being replaced by right-hander Nick Sarianides.
Kinston had a bounce-back inning in the second against Chad Bell, scoring twice on a Roberto Perez sacrifice fly and a Delvi Cid RBI infield single. They came all the way back and took the lead in the third when Tyler Cannon hit a grand slam to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead. Bell was knocked out after only two and two-thirds innings, allowing six runs on eight hits with two walks and no strikeouts.
Myrtle Beach loaded the bases in the third with nobody out and although they tied the game on a Zach Zaneski double play, they got nothing more. After the high-flying first three frames, the next three went scoreless as Ryan Kelly and Zach Osborne posted zeroes for the Pelicans while Sarianides and Cody Allen did the same for the K-Tribe.
Jimmy Reyes entered in the seventh for Myrtle Beach and after striking out the first four batters he faced, he walked a pair and left a second-and-third, two-out jam in the eighth for fellow reliever Hurley, who struck out Abraham to end the threat and preserve the tie.
The Pelicans squandered chances to take the lead in the sixth and eighth innings, but their best chance was in the ninth. Leury Garcia reached on a bunt single, Jared Prince was hit by a pitch and Mike Olt walked to load the bases, but Chris McGuiness popped out to send the game to extras.
They had another chance in the tenth when Jared Hoying roped a one-out double to put the winning run in scoring position once again, but Santiago Chirino and Ryan Strausborger struck out against Toru Murata (1-0), who was scheduled to start Game Three tomorrow, but picked up the win in relief.
Myrtle Beach went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position on the night and from the sixth inning on they were 0-for-7. The only two hits in those spots were the McGuiness homer in the first and Olt’s single that loaded the bases with no outs in the third.
The series shifts to Kinston for a pivotal Game Three on Friday night. Southpaw Miguel De Los Santos(6-3, 3.82) goes for the Pelicans and first pitch at Historic Grainger Stadium is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.