Pelican pitchers help sweep doubleheader from Mudcats

pel-6After a 5-3 win to hand the Carolina Mudcats their eleventh consecutive loss in game one, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, carried that momentum into a 6-3 victory in the nightcap of Thursday’s doubleheader at Five County Stadium.

Starting pitcher Jonathan Martinez won his third game of the year in game one, and Daury Torrez lasted five innings to win his fourth decision in game two.

The Pelicans (29-15) struck first with a pair of runs on consecutive doubles in the first inning of game one. Mark Zagunis began the game with an eight-pitch at-bat that ended with a single to centerfield. Mudcats starter Yean Carlos Gil retired the next two batters before Jeimer Candelario clubbed a double mid-way up the left-field wall. That hit scored Zagunis, and Ben Carhart followed with another double to the gap in left-center, plating Candelario to give the Birds a 2-0 lead.

Carolina (19-24) responded with a run in the second. Designated hitter Jacob Schrader drew a walk, and second baseman Levi Hyams sent his first triple of the year to the left-center field wall to trim the Pelicans lead to 2-1. On a pair of singles from Keith Curcio and Joey Meneses, the Mudcats tied it in the third.

Gil failed to complete the shutdown inning in the fourth, however. The Pelicans loaded the bases for the second time in the game on a double from Victor Caratini and a pair of walks. Pin-Chieh Chen knocked a single to center to plate two more runs. That hit ended Gil’s afternoon, as right-hander Caleb Dirks came on in relief. With Candelario at the plate, a passed ball allowed another runner to score and the Pelicans went up 5-2.

The Mudcats were retired quietly in the fourth and fifth innings but rallied in the sixth of the seven-inning game. Sean Godfrey opened the frame with a double down the left field line to chase starter Jonathan Martinez from the ballgame.

Right-hander Juan Paniagua entered the game and walked Meneses on a wild pitch that sent Godfrey to third base. Godfrey came home on a fielder’s choice groundout when Candelario threw home but failed to record the out. With two on and nobody out in a 5-3 game, Paniagua induced a groundball double play off the bat of Carlos Franco. Jose Briceno flew out to end the threat.

Jasvir Rakkar came on in the final frame, working around a two-out single for his seventh save.

Martinez (3-1) earned his third decision in his last five outings as he collected his third win. He allow three earned runs on five hits in five-plus frames of work. The right-hander walked just one and struck out three. Gil (0-8) took the loss after surrendering five runs, four earned, on eight hits and a walk. He fanned one.

In the second-half of the doubleheader, the Pelicans scored first with a pair of runs in the top of the third. Daniel Lockhart was hit by a pitch before Zagunis drew his league-leading thirty-third walk of the year. Chen laid down a sacrifice bunt to move each man into scoring position, and Chesny Young clubbed a single to right-center field to put the Birds on top 2-0.

Zagunis struck a fielder’s choice to shortstop with the bases loaded in the fourth to drive a third run home, and Chen’s bunt single in the next at-bat brought in a fourth to put the club in front 4-0.  The Birds tacked on twice more in the fifth with RBI singles from Carhart and Carlos Penalver for a 6-0 Myrtle Beach lead.

Carolina rallied for three runs on four hits in the bottom of the fifth in Torrez’s final inning of work. Left fielder Kieth Curcio clubbed an RBI single to right field, and designated hitter Sal Giardina followed by driving in another with a double to center. First baseman Jacob Schrader pushed a third run across with a sacrifice fly to centerfield before Torrez worked out of the inning with his sixth strikeout of the game.

Torrez ended his night after five innings pitched. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits while failing to walk a single batter.

Zach Cates relieved Torrez in the sixth, firing two hitless innings out of the bullpen, walking two and striking out three in his second save of the season.

Mudcats starter Sean Furney (0-2) collected his second loss after four-plus innings on the hill, allowing six earned runs on eight base hits while walking four.

The doubleheader sweep handed the Mudcats their twelfth consecutive loss. Carolina fell to nine-and-a-half games behind the first-place Pelicans, who lead the Carolina League Southern Division by five-and-a-half games.

Photo by Larry Kave, Myrtle Beach Pelicans

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