Walk-off balk drops Pelicans into tie atop division ladder

pel-garcia2The Myrtle Beach Pelicans lost 6-5 in eleven innings on Sunday night to the Lynchburg Hillcats at Calvin Falwell Field. The Pelicans bullpen did not allow a hit in 5 2/3 innings, but Abel De Los Santos allowed a walk, two balks, and a sacrifice fly to suffer the loss in the eleventh.

The Pelicans (32-30, 76-54) erased two different deficits to send the game to extras. Lynchburg’s 1-0 lead evaporated in the second when Luis Mendez lined a two-out single in the second to knot the game.

Two-out hits were a theme for the Hillcats (30-31, 64-66) who collected three consecutive two-out RBI hits in the third off of Pelicans starter Sam Wolff. With two outs and Blake Brown at second, Sean Godfrey collected a single on an 0-2 offering from Wolff to break the tie. Kevin Ahrens then followed with his league-leading 39th double, also on an 0-2 pitch, to extend the lead to 3-1. Wolff again got ahead in the count, but Jose Martinez singled to make it a three-run inning.

Myrtle Beach got a run back in the fourth on sacrifice fly from Nick Vickerson, but Lynchburg answered the run with a two-out single from Brown to make it 5-2 after four innings.

Lynchburg starter Daniel Watts went six innings, allowing just two runs, both earned, on six hits and a pair of walks. He struck out five and turned a 5-2 lead over to the bullpen in the seventh.

Without a hit, the Pelicans loaded the bases on former Pelicans hurler Benino Pruneda in the seventh. Preston Beck then smashed a double to left-center, clearing the bases, and tying the game at 5-5.

Myrtle Beach went in order until extra-innings, and the Hillcats mustered just one baserunner, a leadoff walk in the seventh, during the final three innings of regulation. Cody Ege worked 2 1/3 innings of scoreless ball. Abel De Los Santos kept the game tied into the eleventh, retiring the first eight batters he faced.

The Birds put the first two on in the tenth but failed to score off of Lynchburg closer Alex Wilson and were held scoreless by Cody Fassold in the eleventh.

Coming back out for a fourth inning, De Los Santos walked the leadoff man Levi Hyams. With one out, he then advanced to third on consecutive balks by De Los Santos. Johan Camargo then knocked Hyams in with sacrifice fly to deep right field to give the Hillcats their 11th walk-off win of the year.

Fassold (3-0) earned the win, while De Los Santos (5-2) suffered the loss.

The Pelicans are now in a virtual tie with the Salem Red Sox for the second half Southern Division title and are behind the Red Sox by .001 in winning percentage.

The Pelicans complete their road slate with the final regular season road contest on Monday at 6:05 p.m.

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