Pelicans clinch series with shutout to reach Mills Cup

pel-high5fansThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans, Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Texas Rangers, advanced to the Mills Cup Championship with a 5-0 victory over the Salem Red Sox in Game Three of the Southern Division Championship Series on Friday night at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

The Birds will welcome the Potomac Nationals for the first two games of the Mills Cup Championship starting on Saturday night.

The Pelicans (2-1 in postseason) took the lead in the second inning. With one out, Lewis Brinson hit a ground-rule double that bounced over the wall in right-center field. After Luis Mendez walked, Brinson and Mendez pulled off a double steal, putting runners at second and third with one out. With the infield in, Michael De Leon then hit a two-run single up the middle to put the Birds up 2-0. Red Sox starter Cody Kukuk retired Chris Grayson on a flyout and struck out Christopher Bostick to end the inning.

The Birds scored two more runs in the bottom of the third to take a 4-0 lead. The Pelicans chased Kukuk after he walked Preston Beck to lead off the inning. After Red Sox reliever Williams Cuevas walked his first batter, Royce Bolinger hit a two-run double down the third base line to give the Birds a four-run lead. Cuevas retired the next three batters he faced to get out of the third.

The Red Sox (1-2 in postseason) had their biggest scoring threat in the sixth inning when they had two runners on with no outs. Jose Vinicio led off with a single, and then advanced to second when Carlos Asuaje was hit by a pitch. Pelicans starter Chad James retired the next two batters to finish his night. Then Cody Kendall then entered the game in relief of James. After a wild pitch allowed Reed Gragnani to reach second, Manuel Margot popped out to end the inning.

James held Salem scoreless in 5 2/3 innings, scattering four hits, all singles, while striking out seven and walking one.

The Birds increased their lead to 5-0 in the sixth inning when Mendez hit an RBI triple, scoring David Lyon.

After Kendall came back out and pitched a scoreless seventh, Ryan Bores entered the game in the eighth inning and tossed two shutout frames to close out the win and the Carolina League Southern Division Championship.

James (1-0) earned the win and Kukuk (0-1) took the loss.

After winning the Southern Division Championship Series, the Pelicans advance to the Mills Cup Championship with the Potomac Nationals. The series is a best-of-five format, with the first two games taking place in Myrtle Beach. Game Three will be at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, VA, with Games Four and Five also there if necessary.

Photo courtesy of MB Pelicans

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