Pelicans finally capture first home victory of the season

Odubel HerreraThe Myrtle Beach Pelicansfinally won their first home game of the year, clubbing the Potomac Nationals 9-2 in front of a standing room only crowd of 6,599 at at Pelicans Ballpark on Thursday night.

With the big crowd, the Pelicans have amassed the largest attendance in the 16-year club history through seven games, with a total attendance of 26,819 and an average of 3,831 per game.  Entertaining the big crowd, Sam Wolff pitched a gem for his second win, and Joey Gallo and Preston Beck both homered; Beck’s was a grand slam. With the win and a Carolina Mudcats loss on Thursday, the Pelicans are tied for first place in the Carolina League Southern Division.

Coming off of a doubleheader sweep in which the Pelicans never led, Myrtle Beach (8-6) took their first lead at home all season in the bottom of the first inning. Odubel Herrera led off the inning with a seven-pitch walk worked off of Potomac starter Pedro Encarnacion.

After Herrera stole his team-leading sixth base, Nick Williams singled him home but was tagged out trying to stretch it into a double. With no one on base, Joey Gallo drove a 3-0 fastball high and deep to right field for his sixth long ball of the season, and the Pelicans led 2-0 after one frame.

Wolff carved up the Nationals (8-6) in the first three innings. The right-hander, in his first year as a starter, faced one over the minimum for his first nine outs. The only man to reach was Mike McQuillan who reached on one of three Pelicans errors. By the time he came out in the fourth, he was working with a big lead.

The Birds plated more off of Encarnacion in the third. With two outs and two on, Jorge Alfaro stroked a single to center to bring home both runners and give Myrtle Beach a 4-0 lead, which was more than enough for the Pelicans starter and the rest of the pitching staff.

Wolff allowed a run on two walks and a single in the fourth but was otherwise masterful. He tossed seven innings in total, a career-high and team-high for the season, with only one run against him, earned, on four hits, a pair of walks, and three strikeouts. All four base hits were singles.

With a 4-1 lead, the Pelicans put things away with a five-run sixth inning. Four in-a-row reached against reliever Travis Henke, and with two outs and the bases loaded, Preston Beck launched a 2-0 pitch into the Pelicans’ bullpen beyond the right field wall for a grand slam. It was the team’s first grand slam this year and Beck’s second as a Pelican; he hit one on August 5, 2013. The big home run made it 9-1 in favor of Myrtle Beach.

The Nationals put up an unearned tally on Ryan Bores, who was added to the roster on Thursday and made his Class A-Advanced debut in the ninth inning. He allowed one hit and struck out one. Wolff (2-1) earned the win in the 9-2 final, while Encarnacion (1-1) took the loss.

With the three-game series complete, the Pelicans take aim next against the Wilmington Blue Rocks, who come to town for a four-game set beginning on Friday night  at Pelicans Ballpark.

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