Pelicans come out swinging to trim magic number to 5

pel-hodgesbatMyrtle Beach’s four-run first inning was all Mike Rucker and the Pelicans’ bullpen needed Sunday, as Jesse Hodges and Bryant Flete paced the offense with three hits apiece in the Birds’ 6-1 victory over Carolina from TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

Flete kicked off the Pelicans (37-26) first inning, as he reached on an infield single against Carolina (33-29) starter Trey Supak (1-1) before swiping second base with nobody out. Hodges followed Flete with a single to right field, scoring the Pelicans’ second baseman to give the Birds the early 1-0 lead. Daniel Spingola would give the Pelicans their third straight hit to begin the ballgame by singling to center field. Hodges rounded second and slid into third base, where the throw kicked away and allowed him to score and Spingola to advance to second. Eloy Jimenez capped off four straight hits with a two-run home run to left field, which extended the Myrtle Beach lead to 4-0.

Mike Rucker dominated in his second professional start with five strikeouts over 4.2 innings pitched. The right-hander’s one blemish of the contest came in the form of a solo home run from Troy Stokes Jr in the fourth inning. Tommy Thorpe (3-2) relieved Rucker in the fifth inning and tossed 1.2 innings of hitless baseball out of the bullpen for the Pelicans.

Flete and Hodges would both match their season-high with three hits after they both singled to lead off the seventh inning. Spingola drove in his first run of the contest with a base hit back up the middle to score Flete and advance Hodges to second. Jimenez grounded into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners with one man retired. A miscue by the Mudcats defense on a ground ball from Eddy Martinez allowed Hodges to score from third, which extended the Pelicans lead to 6-1.

Dakota Mekkes made his High-A debut for the Pelicans, slinging 1.1 scoreless innings in relief of Thorpe. The right-hander would gave way with two outs in the eighth to Pedro Araujo. The San Cristobal native recorded the final out of the eighth before firing a scoreless ninth to give Myrtle Beach the 6-1 victory in the finale of their four-game set with Carolina. The Birds have now won 14 of 18, including nine of their past 10 contests.

With the victory, Myrtle Beach remains three games up on the second-place Buies Creek Astros. The Mudcats fell into third place with the loss and are now 3.5 games back of the Pelicans. Myrtle Beach’s magic number to clinch the Southern Division in the first half is now just five.

Myrtle Beach will host Frederick for the first time this season with game one of their three-game set beginning at 7:05 on Monday.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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