Mudcats handcuff Pelicans, leapfrog into second place

pel-spagnolaThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans bats mustered just four hits in a 5-3 series-opening loss on Friday to the Carolina Mudcats at Five County Stadium.

Myrtle Beach (26-23) opened the scoring in their first at-bats. Bryant Flete singled before Andruw Monasterio doubled him to third. Two batters later, an Eddy Martinez ground out brought in Flete to make it 1-0 Pelicans. However, that was the only offense the Birds could muster off Carolina (26-22) starter Corbin Burnes (5-0). The right-hander lasted six innings and yielded just that lone run on two hits, striking out six and walking one. He retired the final 10 Pelicans he faced to earn the win.

Corey Ray tied the game in the bottom of the first with a leadoff home run off Myrtle Beach starter Ryan Kellogg (1-3). The Pelicans southpaw surrendered four runs, three earned, on six hits in 5.2 frames, but suffered the loss. He fanned four against just one walk.

With the score knotted at one in the second, Lucas Erceg began the frame with a double. A Trent Clark two-bagger brought in Erceg to give the Muddies the lead. Three batters later, Weston Wilson laced an RBI single to right to extend the advantage to 3-1.

The score was the same in the sixth when Isan Diaz doubled with one out. After a walk, an error brought in Diaz to make it 4-1. The Mudcats would add one more run an inning later. Luis Aviles singled to begin the frame and then stole second. After a Max McDowell ground out, back-to-back singles by Wilson and Ray, with the latter bringing in Aviles, added a tally to make it 5-1.

The Pelicans were able to put runners on first and second in the eighth after consecutive Carolina errors. Two batters later, Daniel Spingola cashed in Myrtle Beach’s first hit since the first inning with a two-run triple to halve the deficit at 5-3.

In the ninth, Jesse Hodges singled on the infield with two outs and Eloy Jimenez drew a pinch-hit walk to put the tying run on base. However, Mudcats closer Nate Griep induced a ground out off the bat of Robert Garcia to end the ballgame and pick up his league-leading eighth save.

The result bumped Carolina ahead of Myrtle Beach for second place in the Southern Division standings. The Pelicans and Mudcats will meet on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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