Pelicans post back-to-back walk-off wins over Rocks

pel-tagFor the second game in a row, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans rallied to beat the Wilmington Blue Rocks in walk-off fashion, 5-4, on Thursday night in front of a sellout crowd at TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

Mark Zagunis tied the game with an RBI single in the eighth before a fielder’s choice off the bat of Chesny Young and a throwing error handed the Birds a series sweep. For Wilmington, the loss was a franchise-record eleventh in a row.

Locked in a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the ninth inning on Old School Hip Hop Night, Carlos Penalver drew a leadoff walk and moved to second base on a wild pitch. Daniel Lockhart advanced Penalver to third base with a successful sacrifice bunt, bringing Young to the plate with one out. Young hit a hard ground ball to first base, but after fielding the grounder, Ryan O’Hearn made an errant throw to the plate, allowing Penalver to score the game-winner and hand Wilmington (52-58, 14-26 second half) its record-setting loss.

The Pelicans (65-45, 24-17 second half) were the first to score on Thursday thanks to Cael Brockmeyer’s first-inning RBI single, but Wilmington retaliated in the next frame with a pair of runs to grab the lead from starter Daury Torrez. With one out in the second inning, Torrez surrendered back-to-back singles, and after inducing a fly out, he walked catcher Cam Gallagher to load the bases. Center fielder Dominique Taylor then lashed a two-run double down the left-field line to move the Blue Rocks in front, 2-1.

Wilmington touched Torrez up for two more runs in the fifth inning with back-to-back RBI hits from third baseman Mauricio Ramos and O’Hearn to move ahead 4-1.

With the Pelicans forced to climb back from a 4-1 deficit in the sixth inning, Zagunis put the Birds on the comeback trail when he tagged a two-run home run deep to left field, clearing the bleachers, and drawing the game to within a run. Zagunis was not done there, as two innings later, with Pin-Chieh Chen on third base by way of a leadoff triple, he tied the contest at 4-4 with a line drive single to left. It was his third RBI of the night.

Later in the seventh, David Garner relieved Torrez and struck out the first man he faced. He surrendered a single to Taylor but induced the next batter into a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play. He worked the eighth and put two men aboard, but he struck out right fielder Elier Hernandez to escape the frame. Garner finished his night with two complete innings of work.

A scoreless top of the ninth by reliever Jasvir Rakkar (2-1) gave the Birds their chance to win the game in the bottom of the inning, and the walk-off victory provided the right-hander his second win of the year.

The win keeps pace with the Winston-Salem Dash, who lead the Pelicans in the Carolina League Southern Division standings by 1 1/2 games. It was also the eighth straight home win for the Birds.

The Pelicans continue their six-game homestand with a series opener against the Frederick Keys on Friday starting at 7:05 p.m.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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