Pelicans blow lead in ninth for first loss of second half

pel-11The Myrtle Beach Pelicans dropped the series finale with the Wilmington Blue Rocks 8-7 on Saturday night at Pelicans Ballpark. The Pelicans’ loss was the first loss against the Rocks at home this season.

The Blue Rocks (1-2, 34-37) opened the scoring in the first inning. Raul Mondesi led off with a triple to right field and scored on Bubba Starling’s RBI single. With two outs, and Starling on second base, Cody Stubbs singled home Starling with a single to left, increasing the Rocks’ lead to 2-0.

The Pelicans (2-1, 46-25) answered in the bottom half of the inning. Chris Garia singled to center to lead off the inning and later stole second base. Two batters later, Jorge Alfaro hit a chopper to Mondesi, who fielded it barehanded. Alfaro beat Mondesi’s throw to first, and Garia scored on the play, making the score 2-1.

Myrtle Beach took the lead in the bottom of the third. Kevin Torres singled with one out and advanced to second on Garia’s ground out. Hanser Alberto then hit a bloop single to right field, moving Torres to third. With Preston Beck batting, Blue Rocks starter Glenn Sparkman threw to first, and the umpires ruled Sparkman balked, advancing Alberto to second and scoring Torres. After the balk, Blue Rocks manager Darryl Kennedy was ejected by home plate umpire Ben Levin. Later in the at-bat, Beck hit an RBI double, scoring Alberto, and giving the Pelicans a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, David Lyon hit a solo home run to deep right field off Blue Rocks reliever John Walter, increasing Myrtle Beach’s lead to 4-2.

Wilmington retook the lead with a three-run top of the fifth inning. Mondesi, Starling and Jared Schlehuber hit three consecutive doubles off Pelicans starter Andrew Faulkner, tying the game. With two outs, Michael Antonio hit an RBI triple, scoring Schlehuber, and the Rocks took a 5-4 lead.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Pelicans tied the score. Garia led off with a walk and then advanced to second on Alberto’s ground out. With Beck batting, Garia moved to third on a wild pitch by Walter. Beck then hit his second RBI double of the day, scoring Garia, and tying the game at 5-5.

The Birds regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Chris Grayson reached on a fielding error by Kenny Diekroeger to lead off the inning and later stole second base. With two outs, Garia hit a chopper to first base and beat Mark Donato’s throw to Blue Rocks reliever Aroni Nina at first. Grayson scored on the play from second to give the Birds a 6-5 lead.

Wilmington tied the score in the top of the eighth inning. With one out, Daniel Rockett hit a solo shot to left field off Pelicans reliever Jose Monegro, tying the score at 6-6. The home run was his first of the season and snapped a 13-inning scoreless streak for Monegro.

The Birds got the lead back in the bottom of the eighth. Lyon led off with a double, and moved to third on Grayson’s ground out to second. In the next at-bat, Christopher Bostick executed a suicide squeeze, scoring Lyon, and giving the Birds a 7-6 lead.

In the top of the ninth, Wilmington retook the lead for good. Mondesi singled to lead off the inning. Three batters later, Zane Evans sent a 2-2 pitch by Monegro to the Budweiser Thirst Inning Deck, giving the Blue Rocks an 8-7 lead.

The Pelicans got a single from Beck in the ninth but could not muster a run. Mark Peterson (14) recorded the save, recording the last two outs. Monegro (2-1) took the loss, while Kyle Bartsch (5-3) picked up the win in relief.

The Birds go on the road to open a three-game set with the Carolina Mudcats on Sunday afternoon.

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