Pelicans drop twinbill to remain winless at home

pel-buckelThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Texas Rangers, saw their seven-game winning streak end in a doubleheader sweep at the hands of the Potomac Nationals on Wednesday at Pelicans Ballpark.

The Pelicans lost 7-3 in game one, in a game suspended on Tuesday due to rain, and fell 3-1 in game two. The Birds remain winless at home (0-6).

Myrtle Beach (7-6) entered play in game one trailing 4-3 after two innings, which were played on Tuesday night. In those two innings, the Pelicans collected five hits, including four in the second. The club notched just five base knocks in the final seven innings and did not have multiple hits in any single inning. Brian Dupra, who began the third inning for Potomac, tossed four shutout frames with a career-high seven strikeouts.

The Pelicans’ Sam Stafford matched Dupra. After getting the final out of the second inning on Tuesday, he came back on Wednesday and went four more frames. He allowed four hits and walked one but fanned four and kept Potomac off the scoreboard in the middle innings.

The game remained 4-3 into the ninth inning. The Nationals (8-5) plated three unearned runs off of Pelicans reliever Ryan Harvey. Potomac collected three hits, two that didn’t leave the infield, but second baseman Edwin Garcia dropped a ball in shallow right field. The Nationals scored one on the error, another on an infield hit from Mike McQuillan, and a third on a wild pitch, one of four thrown by Harvey and five tossed by the Pelicans in the contest.

The Pelicans got a man into scoring position in the bottom half of the final inning, but Robert Benincasa shut the door on the Birds for his fourth save. Dupra (2-0) earned the win, while Cody Buckel (0-1), who started the game on Tuesday but did not pitch in the game on Wednesday, took the loss. Buckel walked four and hit a batter in 1.2 innings with four runs, all earned, against his line on three hits.

In game two, Potomac jumped out to a quick lead off of Pelicans right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez. A one-out triple from Khayyan Norfork set things up for cleanup batter Kevin Keyes, who singled home Norfork two batters later. Pelicans manager Joe Mikulik was ejected in the first as well after arguing a call in which the umpires ruled no catch on a liner to first baseman Edwin Garcia.

The Pelicans tied things up in the third inning. After the first two men were retired by Brett Mooneyham, Christopher Bostick drew a walk, ending a stretch of five retired in-a-row by the left-handed starter for Potomac. A wild pitch advanced Bostick to second, and he scored on a single by Nick Williams who went 2-for-3 in his first start since Sunday. The single tied the game at 1-1, but the lead lasted only until the next half inning.

With out in the third, Cole Leonida slammed a 1-1 pitch from Gonzalez to left for his second home run. The solo blast put the Nationals back ahead 2-1, and they led the rest of the way. Potomac added an insurance tally in the ninth off of Jose Leclerc on a squeeze bunt by Randolph Oduber but the run was unneeded. Myrtle Beach mustered just one baserunner off of Gilberto Mendez who picked up his second save with two scoreless innings.

Gonzalez (0-2) took the loss despite his best performance of the year and one of the best of his career. The 2013 first round pick tossed a career-high six innings and fanned a career-best eight batters. Gonzalez allowed two runs on seven hits and walked none. Mooneyham (1-1) earned the victory.

The Pelicans and Nationals complete their three-game series Thursday night at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Sam Wolff (1-1. 0.79 ERA) toes the rubber for the Birds opposite Nationals hurler Pedro Encarnacion (1-0, 2.00 ERA).

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