Gallo leads Pelicans’ sweep of series with Blue Rocks

pel-buckelThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans completed a three-game sweep of the Wilmington Blue Rocks at Frawley Stadium on Thursday night with a 6-5 win. Joey Gallo went 4-for-4 with a double, two home runs, and four runs scored in the winning effort.

Things did not start well for the Pelicans (3-4), as Cody Buckel walked four straight to give Wilmington (2-5) an early 1-0 lead in the first. The Birds answered right back in the second, however. Gallo came into the ballgame without an extra base hit on the season, but he blasted a 2-1 fastball from Wilmington’s Miguel Almonte over the left field wall to tie the game at 1-1.

Buckel walked two more and hit a batter to begin the second inning and was lifted from the contest with the bases loaded. Buckel went just one-plus inning, surrendered an earned run on six walks and a hit batter. Alexander Claudio came on in the bases loaded, no out spot. He stuck out Bubba Starling and induced a groundball double play off the bat of Hunter Dozier to get out of the inning without a run scoring.

Myrtle Beach added a run in the third to take the lead on a sacrifice fly from Christopher Bostick. Royce Bolinger and Preston Beck added two more on RBI singles in the fourth and the Pelicans lead 4-1 after four innings. Gallo hit a second solo homer, this time a towering shot to right field on the first pitch of the sixth, making it 5-1 Pelicans.

Claudio fired five shutout innings in relief of Buckel. He allowed only one baserunner during that stretch and turned things over to Ryan Harvey in the seventh with the 5-1 lead in fact. Harvey retired the first two he faced but walked the next two. An error by Bostick kept the inning alive and loaded the bases, and four runs scored in the inning. Johermyn Chavez walked to bring home one run, Cody Stubbs singled home another, and Jack Lopez plated two with a double to tie the game at 5-5. Jose Leclerc got the final out of the inning, stranding the potential go-ahead run at third base.

The Pelicans led most of the series against Wilmington and did not take long to reclaim the advantage. Gallo nearly homered for a third time, doubling off the right field wall to begin the eighth. Back-to-back fielder’s choices brought him home, the go-ahead groundout coming off the bat of Preston Beck.

With a 6-5 lead, Leclerc (1-0) tossed scoreless eighth and ninth innings to earn the win and finish off the Blue Rocks. It was the Pelicans’ third win in-a-row and Wilmington’s fifth straight defeat. In relief, Matt Murray (0-1) took the loss.

The Pelicans travel to Salem for the first of four games against the Red Sox on Friday night. Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-1, 4.91 ERA) makes his second start of the year against Justin Haley (0-0, 6.00 ERA), who makes his first start. First pitch from Lewis-Gale Field is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

The next Pelicans home game is Tuesday, April 15.

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