Pelicans return to nest on five-game winning streak

pel-38On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, held off the Carolina Mudcats in dramatic fashion to complete a series sweep with a 6-5 win at Five County Stadium. Newcomer Chesny Young put the Birds ahead for good in the seventh inning when he scored on an errant throw by Carolina catcher Jose Briceno.

The Pelicans (23-12) received a boost in the top of the eighth when another newcomer, Pin Chieh-Chen, drove his first Pelicans home run of the year over the right-center field wall to give Myrtle Beach a 6-3 advantage. In his first three games with Myrtle Beach, Chen is 7-for-12 with three runs scored and four runs batted in. The left-handed hitter has also drawn one walk while striking out just three times.

That lead was threatened in the bottom of the eighth inning when right fielder Connor Oliver tagged a two-out, two-run triple off of Pelicans righty Michael Heesch to bring Carolina within a run. Heesch allowed two earned runs on three hits over 1 2/3 innings of work, striking out three. Jasvir Rakkar took over on the mound and stranded the tying run at third base.

With a lead-off walk in the bottom of the ninth, left fielder Keith Curcio attempted to steal second base with two outs, but Birds catcher Victor Caratini fired a strike to Young at the bag, catching the would-be tying run and ending the game.

With the loss, the Mudcats (19-15) have fallen three and-a-half games out of first place in the Carolina League Southern Division standings. Myrtle Beach remains at the top of the division with the best record in the league.

In the first inning, the Birds took hold of a 2-0 lead when Caratini drew a bases-loaded walk and Kevin Brown drove in Young with a sacrifice fly to right.

Carolina responded in the bottom of the frame when Curcio led off with a walk and stole second base. First baseman Joey Meneses then knocked in the Mudcats’ first run with a base hit to centerfield. In the third inning, third baseman Carlos Franco tied the contest with a triple down the right-field line, and the home team took a 3-2 lead in the next at-bat by way of Briceno’s RBI sacrifice fly.

Pelicans starter Tyler Skulina did not pitch past the fourth inning. The right-hander gave up three earned runs while walking four and striking out five batters.

In the seventh, Mark Zagunis walked with one out, and Young singled on a fly ball to right. Jeimer Candelario, whose go-ahead double in the twelfth inning proved the difference the game before, singled to right field, driving Zagunis home to even the score 3-3. Two batters later, with Caratini at the plate, Briceno’s throw trying to catch Young off the bag at third sailed into left field and allowed the Pelicans to move ahead 4-3.

Daury Torrez (3-2) fired two shutout innings from the bullpen, allowing one hit and striking out two as he picked up his third win and first from the bullpen. Rakkar picked up his fifth save, walking one and striking out three in his 1 1/3 shutout innings.

Right-hander Sean Furney tossed six innings in his first start with the club after his promotion from Class-A Rome. He finished with six hits allowed, giving up a pair of earned runs while walking three and striking out two. Mauricio Cabrera (2-1) was saddled with a blown save and his first loss of the year.

The Pelicans return home this week to open a seven-day homestand against the Frederick Keys and Potomac Nationals. First pitch against the Keys on Tuesday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

Photo courtesy of MB Pelicans

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