Hillcats hand Pelicans’ ace Buckel first loss of season

The Myrtle Beach Pelicans dropped a fantastic pitcher’s duel Wednesday, falling 2-1 to the Lynchburg Hillcats in front of 3,167 at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

Both teams tossed their aces in the game, with the Pelicans soaring behind Cody Buckel and the Hillcats with JR Graham.  The later got the better of the deal, going seven and two thirds innings, allowing one run on eight singles.  He got the win to move to 5-0.  Buckel lasted seven innings plus, allowing two runs on seven hits.  Buckel’s ERA elevated to a still league-best 1.33.

The damage done against Buckel came in two blows.  Former Pelican Adam Milligan launched his first homerun of the season over the rightfield fence for a 1-0 lead.  The shot came on the first pitch of the inning.  Buckel only allowed four more hits until the eighth inning, all singles.

Myrtle Beach backed up its pitcher with some offense in the fourth, starting with three straight singles from Tomas Telis, Jared Hoying and Brett Nicholas.  Later, with one out the Pelicans had the bases loaded for Odubel Herrera, who drew a four pitch walk to force in the tying run.  It was the only walk issued by Graham.  The Pelicans, however, mustered no further offense in the inning, with Vinny DiFazio bouncing into a double play.

The score remained deadlocked at one until the eighth inning.  Buckel allowed the first four runners to reach, including Robby Hefflinger on a leadoff double.  Zach Osborne then entered and allowed his first inherited runner of the season to score, surrendering an RBI single to Nick Ahmed before escaping the jam.  The damage was done, however, and the Pelicans trailed 2-1.

The Pelicans had their chances to rally back, putting runners on the corners in the bottom of the ninth, but the Birds were unable to push the tying run across against Lynchburg closer Juan Jaime.

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