Pelicans clinch second-half title, host first-round playoff

pel-celebrateThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans won 3-2 in walk-off fashion over the Lynchburg Hillcats in the final game of the regular season on Monday night at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

The Pelicans won the second half Southern Division title when the Wilmington Blue Rocks defeated the Salem Red Sox 7-6 in 10 innings. The Pelicans finished the season 82-56, the best record in the four-year Rangers era in team history and the third best record in the club’s 16-year history.

The Pelicans will play the Red Sox in the Southern Division Championship Series. The Birds will host all three games of the series, starting with Game One on Wednesday. Game Two will be on Thursday and Game Three, if necessary, will be on Friday. First pitch for all games is set for 7:05 p.m.

The Birds (38-32, 82-56) opened the scoring in the first inning. Chris Grayson led off the inning with a double to left-center field. Two batters later, Preston Beck hit an RBI double to left field to score Grayson. Myrtle Beach led 1-0 after the first.

In the top of the second inning, the Pelicans took a 2-0 lead on Christopher Bostick’s eleventh home run of the season.

The Hillcats (34-35, 68-72) cut their deficit to 2-1 in the top of the fourth. With one out, Kevin Ahrens doubled, and then scored on an RBI single by Jose Martinez. Martinez later stole second base and then advanced to third on a passed ball. Pelicans starter Victor Payano got out of the inning when Will Skinner flew out to center.

Payano pitched seven innings, matching a career-high, allowing one run on six hits while striking out two and walking none.

Hillcats starter Jarrett Miller tossed five frames, surrendering two runs on five hits and striking out four while walking none. Lynchburg relievers Sean Bierman, Daniel Carela and Nate Hyatt all pitched a scoreless inning.

Lynchburg tied the game 2-2 in the eighth inning. Blake Brown hit a leadoff single against Pelicans reliever Cody Buckel, and later stole second base. After Levi Hyams struck out, Sean Godfrey hit a double to the center field wall, scoring Brown to tie the game. After Godfrey’s double, Buckel induced two groundouts to end the inning. Buckel came back out in the ninth and retired the side in order.

The Pelicans won the game in the bottom of the ninth in walk-off fashion off of Hillcats reliever Navery Moore. With two outs, Nick Vickerson walked, and then advanced to second on a single by Lewis Brinson. Luis Mendez then hit the game-winning RBI double to center field, scoring Vickerson to give the Pelicans a 3-2 win. The team celebrated by mobbing Mendez in center.

Buckel (5-6) earned the win in relief and Moore (1-2) took the loss.

The Pelicans finished the season with an average attendance of 3,652, a franchise record.

As winners of both the first and second half Southern Division titles, the Pelicans will host the entire Southern Division Championship Series, a best-of-three series, beginning on Wednesday evening.

Individual game tickets are available for each playoff game. Tickets start at $8.00 and those purchased in advance for games that are not ultimately played can be refunded or used as credit for a future ticket purchase with the Pelicans for the 2015 season.

Tickets for Game One and Game Two of the SDCS are available for purchase online. To purchase tickets for potential games, including Game Three of the SDCS and Games One and Two of the Mills Cup Championship Series, fans can call the Pelicans front office at (843) 918-6002.

Photo courtesy of MB Pelicans

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