Pelicans outlast Dash, rain to force a deciding Game 3

pel-markeyFacing elimination in Game Two of the Southern Division Championship Series, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, outlasted the Winston-Salem Dash by a 4-3 final at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark on Thursday night.

Pelicans starting pitcher Brad Markey allowed one hit in eight innings of work, taking a no-hitter into the eighth. In the ninth, the Dash loaded the bases with nobody out before rain delayed the contest for two hours and forty-four minutes, but when play resumed, the Pelicans bullpen staved off a Dash rally to even the best-of-three series at 1-1.

With the Pelicans (81-57, 1-1 postseason) trailing one-game-to-none in the best-of-three series, a record crowd of 4,003 turned out to witness Markey (1-0) twirl a gem, as the right-hander retired the first 14 batters he faced. With two outs in the fifth, left fielder Nick Basto drew a walk to end the perfect effort, but Markey went on to retire the next seven men after that, completing seven no-hit innings.

First baseman Keon Barnum spoiled the no-hit bid when he led off the eighth with a double into the left field gap. A ground out moved him to third base, and a fielding error at shortstop allowed the Dash to score their first run.

To that point, Myrtle Beach had already taken a 4-0 lead through the first seven frames. After stranding the bases loaded in the first inning, three consecutive one-out singles gave the Birds a 1-0 lead in the third. Chesny Young singled to start the fifth, and on a hit-and-run, he scored when Pin-Chieh Chen doubled into the right-center field gap for a 2-0 Pelicans lead.

The Birds added two more runs in the sixth. Jeffrey Baez led off the frame with a single up the middle and he stole second base. After two fly outs, Young ripped an RBI single to right field, and Baez evaded the tag on a play at the plate to give the Birds a 3-0 lead. Young took second base on the throw, and Chen followed with another RBI single up the middle to move the Birds in front, 4-0.

After the error that allowed Barnum to score that unearned run in the eighth, Markey (1-0) induced a fly out to end the inning. He earned his first postseason win with eight frames in the book, allowing just one hit and no walks along with eight strikeouts.

With the Birds leading 4-1 into the top of the ninth, the Dash (75-63 regular season, 1-1 postseason) loaded the bases with a leadoff single and back-to-back walks against left-handed reliever Michael Heesch. Heesch was lifted for Jasvir Rakkar, who trotted in from the bullpen as rain fell. Rakkar proceeded to warm up as the rain continued, however before he could throw a first pitch to Dash third baseman Trey Michalczewski, the game was put into a delay for two hours and forty-four minutes.

When contest resumed, Pelicans right-hander David Berg took over on the mound to face Michalczewski, who cut the Pelicans’ lead to 4-2 with an RBI fielder’s choice on the first pitch. Barnum then followed with an RBI ground out to second base that shaved the Birds’ lead to 4-3. Yet with the tying run standing at third, Berg struck out Basto swinging to pick up his first save of the postseason and cap the 4-3 win for Myrtle Beach.

Winston-Salem starter Yency Almonte (0-1) fired 4 2/3 innings on the mound and allowed two runs, both earned, on five hits. The right-hander also walked three while striking out seven en route to a losing decision.

The Birds are back in action with a decisive Game Three of the Southern Division Championship Series on Friday, September 11, at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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