Pelicans limp home after series sweep by Hillcats

pel-heeschA pair of triples and a two-run home run overcame the Myrtle Beach Pelicans as the Lynchburg Hillcats completed a series sweep with a 5-0 win on Friday night at Calvin Falwell Field. Lynchburg hit nine home runs in the three-game set and handed the Pelicans just their third series sweep of the year.

In the bottom of the first, Pelicans starter Michael Heesch worked out of a bases-loaded jam by inducing a ground ball double play to keep the game scoreless. However the Hillcats (47-52, 14-15 second half) broke the scoreless tie in the second when shortstop Ivan Castillo drove a two-run triple to left field to give Lynchburg a 2-0 lead. The next batter, left fielder Luigi Rodriguez, blasted a two-run home run over the right-field fence to extend the Hillcats’ advantage to 4-0. The home run was Rodriguez’s twelfth of the season and his first since June 28.

After Heesch pitched a scoreless third inning, the Hillcats struck for another run in the fourth. Second baseman Yhoxian Medina bunted for a hit and stole second base before Castillo extended Lynchburg’s lead to 5-0 with his second triple of the game. It was his third three-bagger in the series against Myrtle Beach (56-42, 15-14 second half) and his league-leading twelfth.

Castillo’s triple ended Heesch’s night after three-plus innings of work. Right-hander James Pugliese took over on the mound and struck out the first two batters he faced before inducing a line out to right field to end the frame. Pugliese lasted three scoreless innings and allowed just one hit while also matching a season-high five strikeouts.

With five earned runs allowed on nine base hits, Heesch (7-1) took his first loss of the season. The left-hander struck out two while also walking a pair.

Hillcats starter Mitch Brown (6-9) tossed six innings on the mound and picked up the win. The right-hander struck out a career-high nine batters and allowed just two hits along with a pair of walks.

Hillcats reliever Grant Sides allowed a hit but closed out the ninth to seal the 5-0 win.

Chesny Young, who broke the Carolina League consecutive on-base record last Sunday, extended that streak to 43 games with his sixth-inning single to left field on Friday. That hit also extended his career-high hit-streak to 13 games, which is now the longest by a Pelicans hitter this year, besting Mark Zagunis’ 12-game streak from May 8‒22. Young’s streak is also the longest active hit-streak in the Carolina League.

The Pelicans will be back in town on Saturday to kick off a six-game homestand beginning with three games against the Carolina Mudcats and three more against the Potomac Nationals. Game one with the Mudcats on Saturday starts with a 7:05 p.m.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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