Pelicans let lead slip away late in 4-3 loss to Hilllcats

pel-buckelThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans  dropped a 4-3 decision to the Lynchburg Hillcats on Tuesday night at Pelicans Ballpark.

Andrew Faulkner pitched four scoreless innings, striking out five. Despite Faulkner’s performance, the Pelicans lost their first game to Lynchburg this season. The Birds’ bats responded early but mustered only one hit over the last six innings and failed to score after the third.

The Pelicans (42-21) started the contest with a Chris Garia ground rule double to right field. The Birds took advantage of the man in scoring position. With Garia at third after a fielder’s choice, Preston Beck hit another grounder to the right side. Hillcats first baseman Edison Sanchez threw home, but Garia beat the tag and scored to make it 1-0.

Faulkner, the only qualifying pitcher in the Carolina League without a loss on the season, cruised for the Birds. The All-Star southpaw fanned five Hillcats, while allowing two hits and three walks in four shutout innings. The lefty has not allowed a run in 15 1/3 innings, the longest stretch from a Pelicans pitcher this year. When Faulkner exited the game, the Pelicans were ahead.

In the bottom of the third, Myrtle Beach loaded the bases with one out. David Lyon came to the plate and hit a fly ball to left field for a double, scoring Luis Mendez and Garia on the play. The Pelicans led 3-0.

In the top of the sixth inning, the Hillcats (33-32) took advantage of two Pelicans errors. A single and an error put runners at second and third with no outs. With David Nick at the plate, Jason Knapp committed a balk, allowing Peraza to score. Chris Grayson then dropped a fly ball in left allowing Wren to score on the play. Nick was thrown out trying to reach second. The two unearned runs pulled the Hillcats within one.

Cody Buckel took the hill in relief of Knapp in the top of the seventh inning. Eric Garcia started off the inning by doubling on a fly ball to left. In the very next at bat, Daniel Castro reached on an infield single. With runners on first and third, Buckel gave up a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Garcia to tie the game.

Later in the inning, Peraza came to the plate with one out and two in scoring position. With the infield in, Peraza grounded out to second baseman Christopher Bostick. Castro scored on the play, putting the Hillcats up 4-3.

Pelicans were unable to muster offense after the Hillcats took the lead. Jarett Miller and former Pelican Ryan Kelly held Myrtle Beach to one hit over the final six scoreless innings. Lynchburg took game two of the series 4-3.

Miller (1-1) earned the win, striking out six and allowing four hits. Buckel (1-4) lost the contest in relief in his first game off the disabled list. Kelly (4) earned the three-inning save.

The Birds look to win their last game against the Hillcats in their final home game of the first half when they play on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m.

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