New-look Pelicans impress in season-opening victory

pel-32pitchThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the Advanced-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, raised their own version of the famous “W” Flag on Thursday night.

The Birds began the Cubs era of Pelicans baseball by running away with a 9-1 victory over the Wilmington Blue Rocks on Opening Day at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark in front of a sellout crowd of 6,599 fans.

A cluster of offensive contributors treated the fans to plenty of run support in starting pitcher Duane Underwood’s 5 1/3 innings of work, including a five-run fifth inning. Six consecutive Birds reached base in the frame before the Blue Rocks defense recorded an out.

The first Pelicans (1-0) hit of the 2015 season came in the second inning, when first baseman Jacob Rogers doubled down the left-field line before designated hitter Shawon Dunston Jr. knocked him in with an RBI triple into the right field corner.

Underwood’s only real turbulence came in the fourth inning. After quickly putting away the first two batters, shortstop Carlos Penalver had trouble fielding a sharply hit ground ball off the bat of Blue Rocks third baseman Mauricio Ramos. Ramos later stole second base and scored on a Dominique Taylor double to left—the sole Wilmington run of the night.

Penalver, however, went 3-for-4 at the plate, singling three times, stealing a base, scoring twice, and driving in a run. Overall, five Pelicans hitters collected multiple hits on Opening Night: centerfielder Jacob Hannemann reached base three times in five at-bats, while Rogers, a triple shy of the cycle, finished 3-for-4 with a homer and a pair of RBI. Second baseman Daniel Lockhart joined the multi-hit parade with a single and a triple in four trips while scoring twice.

Blue Rocks starting pitcher Jakob Junis surrendered six earned runs over four-plus innings on the mound, walking one and collecting three strikeouts.

The Pelicans bullpen took the reins, as Jonathan Martinez, James Pugliese, and Starling Peralta shut the Blue Rocks (0-1) out for the remaining four innings of relief. Peralta, who allowed a lead-off single to start the ninth, retired the next three Blue Rocks hitters in order, striking out back-to-back men to seal the Pelicans’ first victory of the season.

Underwood (1-0) earned the victory, while Junis (0-1) suffered the loss.

The opening home stand continues on Friday with another 7:05 p.m. ET first pitch at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

Photo courtesy of MB Pelicans

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