Pelicans suffer home-away defeats in under 24 hours

pel-bolingerTwenty-two hours, a four-hour bus ride and two defeats: That was the line score for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans on Saturday night/Sunday afternoon in what amounted to a rare night-day/home-away doubleheader.

The Pelicans blew a lead in the ninth inning to suffer an 8-7 setback to the Wilmington Blue Rocks at home on Saturday, a game that was delayed by rain and didn’t end until nearly midnight. The Birds had to depart for Zebulon, NC, and catch a few winks of sleep on the bus before facing the Carolina Mudcats in a 2 p.m. matinee.

The Pelicans fell 6-1 in the series and road opener at Five County Stadium. The Birds were held silent by Ryan Merritt until the eighth inning, and a five-run seventh inning dashed the chances of a rally. The road-weary team mustered just three-hits, a season low.

Pelicans starter Victor Payano matched zeros with Merritt in the first two frames. He allowed three hits and a walk in the first two innings but kept the Mudcats off of the scoreboard.

Carolina (3-1, 32-39), however, scratched across a run in the third. LeVon Washington and Todd Hankins collected back-to-back singles to open the frame. A ground ball double play ball off the bat of Erik Gonzalez got Payano one out away from working a scoreless third, but Yandy Diaz came through for Carolina.

The third baseman hit a bouncing ball to shortstop that skipped over Hanser Alberto’s glove for an RBI single to put the Mudcats ahead 1-0.

Payano surrendered a one-out double in the fourth inning, but Cody Buckel entered and got out of the jam, keeping the score 1-0 through four.

Merritt was sensational on Sunday. He allowed just two baserunners in the first seven innings: a first inning single to Preston Beck and a walk of Beck in the fourth. After walking Beck, he set down 13 straight.

Myrtle Beach (2-2, 46-26) kept the game close until the seventh. Buckel faced the minimum in the fifth and sixth, but the Mudcats scraped together a rally in the seventh inning. Alex Monsalve singled on a ground ball off of the bare hand of Buckel to open the frame. Two batters later, Luigi Rodriguez sent a ball on the ground up the middle for a base knock. With men at the corners, Buckel uncorked a wild pitch to score Monsalve, putting the Mudcats up 2-0.

With Carolina leading 6-0 in the eighth, Merritt returned to the hill. He set down the first two Pelicans he faced. Jose Cardona managed an infield single off of the starter, the first hit allowed since the first inning. Mendez followed with the only extra-base hit of the contest for the Birds, a double off of the left field wall, scoring Cardona, and putting Myrtle Beach on the scoreboard.

Myrtle Beach continues the series in Zebulon with the lone night game of the set on Monday night.

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