Pelicans claim division title, advance to Mills Cup final

pel-celebrateWith a 4-3 win over the Winston-Salem Dash in Game Three of the Southern Division Championship Series on Friday, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, punched their ticket to the Mills Cup Championship Series for the second consecutive season.

Victor Caratini gave the Birds an early lead with a first-inning, three-run double, and the Pelicans hung on for a one-run win at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

Myrtle Beach (81-57, 2-1 postseason) took a quick three-run advantage in the bottom of the first. Chesny Young opened the inning with a single up the middle, and Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, with the Pelicans on a Major League rehabilitation assignment, followed with a double down the left-field line. Jason Vosler walked to load the bases, and Caratini ripped a bases-clearing double into the right-field corner to give the Birds a 3-0 lead.

The Dash (75-63 regular season, 1-2 postseason) would claw back with a pair of runs in the third. Pelicans starter Jonathan Martinez, who entered the frame on a 19-inning scoreless streak, surrendered a leadoff single. After a strikeout, Adam Engel lifted a two-run home run down the left-field line that snuck just over the wall to trim the Myrtle Beach lead to 3-2.

Martinez (1-0) finished with six innings in the book and picked up the win. He allowed five hits and two runs, both earned, while walking none and fanning three.

With the Birds still leading 3-2 into the seventh, right-hander David Garner relieved Martinez and tossed perfect seventh and eighth innings, including four consecutive strikeouts.

Young added an RBI single in the seventh inning, driving in Cubs No. 1 prospect, shortstop Gleyber Torres, to put the Pelicans ahead, 4-2. It would prove to be the difference in the ballgame.

In the top of the ninth, the Dash mounted a rally that drew the game to within a run. With one out, Jake Peter reached on a fielding error by Torres, and Trey Michalczewski followed with a ground-rule double that hopped over the left-field fence. With two men in scoring position, Keon Barnum then rolled an RBI groundout to shortstop, cutting the score to 4-3. With the tying run at third base, Garner got Nick Basto to roll out to shortstop to end the game and send the Pelicans into the Mills Cup Championship Series.

Soler finished his night 1-for-2 at the plate with a double, a run scored, and a walk. Mark Zagunis replaced the 23-year-old slugger in the seventh as the right field and led off the eighth with a single to right field in his lone at-bat.

Brennan (0-1) took the loss on Friday. The right-hander hurled 6 2/3 innings and allowed four runs, all earned, on five hits while walking three and striking out one.

Garner pitched a three-inning save and allowed one run, which was unearned, on one hit. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.

The Pelicans will face the Wilmington Blue Rocks in Game One of the Mills Cup Championship Series beginning Sunday, September 13, at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington, Delaware. The first pitch of Game One in the best-of-five series is set for 5:05 p.m.

Photo by Lary Kave/MB Pelicans

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