Rice plays hero twice to lift Pelicans to comeback win

pel-riceIan Rice smashed the game-tying home run in the ninth inning and then lined a walk-off single in the 10th to lead the Myrtle Beach Pelicans to a thrilling 7-6 win over the Lynchburg Hillcats Sunday in front of 4,750 at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.

With Myrtle Beach (71-55, 35-21) trailing 6-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Yasiel Balaguert led off the inning by pulling a double into the left field corner. The next batter was Rice, who pummeled a two-run home run to left-center to tie the game at six.

With the game still tied at six in the bottom of the 10th, Hillcats (78-49, 33-24) reliever David Speer (4-1) retired the first two batters before David Bote singled to right. Balaguert then reached on a fielding error by Lynchburg reliver Tyler Krieger. The next batter was Rice, who knocked a single to left to score Bote and end the game.

Pelicans reliever Tommy Nance (2-0) fired three shutout innings of relief to earn the win. He struck out four and allowed only one hit.

Luis Lugo made the start for Lynchburg and retired the first four Pelicans before giving up a one-out single to Rice in the bottom of the second. After walking Jeffrey Baez, Jesse Hodges lined a double into the left field corner to give Myrtle Beach a 1-0 lead. Andrew Ely, who had three hits, followed with a single up the middle to plate Baez. Erick Castillo was next and he singled to center to cap a three-run Pelicans second.

With the Birds still leading 3-0 in the fourth, Baez cranked a solo homer to left to extend the Myrtle Beach advantage to 4-0.

Pelicans starter James Pugliese put up five zeroes before he walked Francisco Mejia to begin the top of the sixth. Anthony Santander followed by doubling to left-center. With one out, Craig Brooks entered the game and immediately allowed a leadoff single to Tyler Krieger, which brought in Mejia and made the score 4-1. Taylor Murphy then lined a ground-rule double to right-center to make it 4-2. After Brooks hit a batter to load the bases, Yonathan Mendoza worked out a walk to pull the Hillcats to within one.

With the bases still loaded and one out, Connor Marabell grounded out to score Murphy and tie the game at four. The next batter was Mark Mathias, who doubled over the third base bag to score both runners and give Lynchburg a 6-4 lead.

The Pelicans will head to Carolina on Tuesday to begin a three-game series with the Mudcats at 7 p.m.on (Nov. 26, 2 p.m.). Game times are subject to change based on TV.

Photo by Larry Kave/MB Pelicans

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