Gonzalez backs up draft status in Pelicans’ victory

pel-chichi2The Myrtle Beach Pelicans got a career night out of right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez en route to a 4-1 win over the Frederick Keys on Saturday night at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. Gonzalez tossed a season and career-high eight innings without allowing a run.

The Keys (11-15) had one of their best threats against Gonzalez in the first inning. With one out, Frederick got back-to-back singles from Lucas Herbst and Zane Chavez, but Gonzalez got a ground ball double play off the bat of Creede Simpson to get out of the jam.

Over the next four innings, the 2013 first round daft selection did not allow a base hit. He faced just two over the minimum during those frames and allowed only one man into scoring position before the sixth inning.

When Gonzalez came back out for the sixth, he was pitching with a lead. Parker Bridwell matched Gonzalez with four zeros to start his ninth, but allowed a bevy of baserunners. In the fifth, the Pelicans (17-10), finally made Bridwell pay. Chris Garia worked a one-out walk and then stole second. Odubel Herrera knocked a 2-2 pitch to right field. The single brought Garia home from second, and gave Myrtle Beach a 1-0 lead.

The Keys nearly rallied in the top of the seventh. Glynn Davis reached first to lead off the inning on a passed ball on a third strike. He moved to second on a single from Herbst, the lone Frederick batter with two hits. After a fielder’s choice, there was one out with two men in scoring position. Creede Simpson flew out to shallow right field. The Pelicans’ right field Royce Bolinger caught it and threw home with Davis tagging from third. Davis just beat the throw, but the Pelicans appealed back to third base, where it was ruled that Davis had left early. The double play ended the inning and kept Gonzalez’s shutout in tact.

The Birds added three insurance runs in the seventh inning off of Matt Hobgood. Two scored on a single from Hanser Alberto and another touched the plate on a fielder’s choice from Herrera.

Gonzalez fired another scoreless inning in the eighth to finish his night. On a career-high eight innings, the Delray, Florida native scattered five hits and three walks. He also struck out five. The Pelicans’ insurance runs, however, proved necessary.

Abel De Los Santos, who arrived from Class-A Hickory on Saturday, surrendered a run in the ninth on a hit, a walk, and a hit batter in his Advanced-A debut before Alexander Claudio got the final out for the save. It was Claudio’s first save of the season and first in nearly a calendar year.

Gonzalez (2-2) won his second professional game in as many outings.  Bridwell (0-4) was handed his fourth loss in six starts.

Frederick’s Jason Esposito had his active league-leading 12-game hitting streak snapped in an 0-for-4 night, while Preston Beck doubled in four at bats to extend his hit streak to eight games, tying Herrera for the longest by a Pelicans hitter this season.

The Pelicans complete the series and the homestand with the Keys on Sunday at 6:05 at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

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